Metrics are one of the most essential elements of successful marketing, as they allow companies to more accurately gauge their strengths and weaknesses. But that’s only the first step. Next comes implementing change, or turning insights into action. Marketers undeniably have the first part figured out; everywhere you look on the Internet are articles, white papers, and benchmark reports detailing the importance of metrics and data. Yet all too often, that’s where the emphasis lies, when it should instead be on sharing concrete ways to turn numbers into results.
Early this year, Benjamin Spiegel, the managing director of strategy at GroupM/WPP, wrote an article about the problem with data-driven marketing, noting that “2014 was really the year where everybody...threw giant amounts of analysis and dashboards at their clients...but in the end, they don't know what to do with all the information.”
The idea he’s getting at is that not only do marketers not necessarily know what to do with so much data, but also that people don't really want data for the sake of data. Entrepreneurs aren't scientists. When marketers show them information, they're not thinking things like, “This is amazing, you can see insights!" or "How can I spend hours going over this data?" Most business people just want data collected and acted upon. But at the same time, it's really expensive to have a business analyst pouring over data.
Tools, Not Metrics
When it comes down to the reality, it takes a lot of time and effort to find the actual insights. The classic example is that everyone has Google Analytics, but most people could not say in the last twelve months: "Oh yeah, we looked at our Google Analytics and we changed this on our site." They have not done anything based on the huge amount of data there, and comparably speaking, it's still a pretty small data set, compared to billions of data sets.
Beyond Google Analytics, people are still getting information from almost every other tool they’re using: online engagement with social media accounts, information like click rates and CTOR from emails... everything you do now online gives you data. But in most cases, it's just something to look at.
In a recent survey of more than 300 executives worldwide, Forbes undercovered “widespread agreement that data-driven marketing is crucial to success in a hyper-competitive global economy.” But as 2018 progresses, it’s key to acknowledge that what marketing managers really need are data tools that result in insights that actually help the business, rather than just a bunch of metrics in a spreadsheet.
That’s not to say that some of these tools don’t exist. An example of actionable insights might be something like CrazyEgg, which is a heatmapping tool for your website. It shows you where people are clicking, how far people are scrolling, what kinds of actions they take, when they leave. A classic finding is you can see people are clicking on something that isn't a button. That's just a very simple thing to change. It’s, on a really tactical level, a super actionable one.
Another tool would be the keywords tool built into the HubSpot marketing platform we use at AVARI. You can look at how people arrive at your site, and what their search terms are, and make changes accordingly. This is just an example of understanding how people think at a certain point in their customer journey. Depending on where you are and if you're looking for information around something, you might use certain keywords, whereas if you're further down the funnel you might use more sophisticated keywords. And as a marketer, you might write for people at that sophisticated stage, versus when you are looking for something the first time, you might have a very general kind of keyword. So that is another actionable insight.
Or take TheGrid as an example; this company builds what it calls self-optimizing websites—websites that design themselves. It will take how people are interacting with your site, and it will decide the best way to present your content. So you don't have to think about much of anything in terms of design or layout. You go from great content to it being presented in the best possible way.
Obviously it's not there yet, but it expresses what people want. They don't want to be data scientists. They just want a website or email that works correctly. And the future will no longer be a dashboard that says "Here's all the data.” Instead, it's a better designed website, and better product recommendations in emails.
New Tactics vs. New Technology
Independent email marketing consultant Jordie van Rijn offered some valuable insight to the conversation when he said that “innovation inside a company means new tactics, which is very different from new technology.” What he stresses is the idea that things like personalization and triggered emails are not new; rather, it’s the ways in which companies strive to innovate with new techniques that set them apart.
For example, up until recently, in order to analyze how effective the content of certain campaigns might be, you would get your CTOR, and then you'd have to, based on the numbers, decide whether or not to replace certain items with other items. You’d have to make these decisions yourself, and there would be information and data to help guide you, but ultimately, you're just going on intuition and hope because you aren’t measuring the individual content elements separately.
With AVARI’s dynamic content blocks, particularly where predictive product recommendations are concerned, you have a system where it gets insights from people's onsite browsing behavior, looking at clicks and dwell time, combined with pre-existing transactional data, and it makes product recommendations on it. It then watches how successful these recommendations are at getting clicks, learns what works and what doesn’t, and self-optimizes the recommendations for the next time. It does the work for you, and the analytics and the action are now together.
That's what most marketers really what they need. They don't need more data. They need actionable data, and better yet: they need a tool in their toolbox that automatically generates more revenue based on data.As 2018 gets underway, the next obvious step for marketers is to focus on bringing facts and figures to fruition. This can only be done by implementing new tactics and using proven tools to convert technology into substantial outcomes.