How to Use Marketing Analytics to Answer Your Most Pressing Strategy Questions

If you can’t measure it,
you can’t improve it.

Those nine words often find their way in many discussions–from sales to sports to science and beyond. The phrase seems to convey a self-evident truth, but also gets to the essence of analytics and why they are vital for boosting results in any field.

The ways in which deeper metrics can add efficiency and cost savings to marketing initiatives are particularly striking. Research from McKinsey & Company suggests that an effective integrated analytics approach can free up 15 to 20 percent of marketing spend, equating to about $200 billion worldwide. Additionally, businesses that perform best in applying measurement techniques, are able to reallocate as much as 80 percent of their budgets during campaigns.

Today, more tools are at our fingertips than ever before. As marketers, we must decipher which marketing analytics matter and how best to maximize tangible benefits from their insights.

Marketing Attribution: Executive Dashboard

If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.

Those nine words often find their way in many discussions–from sales to sports to science and beyond. The phrase seems to convey a self-evident truth, but also gets to the essence of analytics and why they are vital for boosting results in any field.

The ways in which deeper metrics can add efficiency and cost savings to marketing initiatives are particularly striking. Research from McKinsey & Company suggests that an effective integrated analytics approach can free up 15 to 20 percent of marketing spend, equating to about $200 billion worldwide. Additionally, businesses that perform best in applying measurement techniques, are able to reallocate as much as 80 percent of their budgets during campaigns.

Today, more tools are at our fingertips than ever before. As marketers, we must decipher which marketing analytics matter and how best to maximize tangible benefits from their insights.

Marketing Attribution: Executive Dashboard

Marketing Analytics Defined

At BrightFunnel, we define marketing analytics as the comprehensive measurement and optimization of marketing practices through relevant metrics and data sources. The scope of information that we, as marketers, can track continues to expand, creating a delicate balance when it comes to identifying the right mix.

For marketers, the metrics that truly deliver are those that shed light on how marketing investment impacts the buyer journey–from acquisition to close.

In other words, it’s about removing guesswork.

Making a Complex Buying Journey Manageable Again

Marketing Analytics MapOnce upon a time, the process that moved customers from the awareness stage to consideration and then to a final decision was so simple, you could almost draw it with a straight line. In the digital era, this is obviously not the case.

Today, that line branches off in infinite directions, with endless variations in terms of how people discover, consume, and absorb content.

For instance, a prospect might first hear about a brand through word-of-mouth, then come across it again in a blog post before discovering a social media account, and later converting through a PPC campaign. Email, direct mail, ads (both digital and physical), and customer reviews can also be key touch points in the process.

Tracking all of these pathways can feel daunting, especially when you consider the number of individuals that tend to become involved. Today’s major B2B purchases almost always have fingerprints from several different decision-makers.

The good news is that as the journey becomes more complex, the analytical tools for illuminating its many intricacies become more powerful and finely tuned.

Making a Complex Buying Journey Manageable Again

Once upon a time, the process that moved customers from the awareness stage to consideration and then to a final decision was so simple, you could almost draw it with a straight line. In the digital era, this is obviously not the case.

Today, that line branches off in infinite directions, with endless variations in terms of how people discover, consume, and absorb content.

For instance, a prospect might first hear about a brand through word-of-mouth, then come across it again in a blog post before discovering a social media account, and later converting through a PPC campaign. Email, direct mail, ads (both digital and physical), and customer reviews can also be key touch points in the process.

Tracking all of these pathways can feel daunting, especially when you consider the number of individuals that tend to become involved. Today’s major B2B purchases almost always have fingerprints from several different decision-makers.

The good news is that as the journey becomes more complex, the analytical tools for illuminating its many intricacies become more powerful and finely tuned.

See Marketing Analytics In Action

How can marketing attribution turn the buyer’s journey into a science?

Marketing attribution provides a method for connecting the dots. It refers to the identification of a set of user actions that contribute to a desired revenue outcome. Attributing specific values to these events is an important step in understanding what drives customers to make a purchase and where attrition occurs.

Which campaigns and lead generation tactics can we directly correlate with conversions? Three attribution models take different angles to arriving at these insights:

First-Touch Attribution

How did a customer first interact with your brand? Did he click on a paid search ad? Did she fill out a form on your website? First-touch attribution assigns revenue credit for the deal to that initial point of contact.

Multi-Touch Attribution

Of course, it is rare that a prospect becomes a customer solely because of that singular first interaction. Marketing involves nurturing leads through diverse channels and practices. Multi-touch attribution accounts for each step of the journey. This can be done through a linear model, in which each step is weighted equally, or through a more nuanced model that emphasizes touch points with higher influence.

Last-Touch Attribution

This falls on the opposite end of the spectrum from first-touch attribution, crediting the final touch point with converting the lead to an opportunity. It has its appeal — there is great value in recognizing steps that are triggering decisions — but it’s also kind of like crediting a relief pitcher with the win in a baseball game because he closed out the ninth inning of a team victory.

Any of these three attribution models can prove fitting in certain situations. By using them in conjunction with metrics such as velocity, which measures how quickly a campaign moves prospects through the pipeline, and others that quantify resource allocation (Cost Per Order, Cost Per Deal) we can develop a more precise understanding of ROI and how to optimize it.  

Marketing Analytics Essentials

There are two fundamental principles to keep in mind at a high level when thinking about marketing analytics:

1

Build every marketing program to be measurable.

This means being proactive rather than reactive. Establish specific goals early on and clearly outline how you plan to achieve them. Align your CRM, marketing automation software or attribution platform with these objectives and continually track progress throughout the life of a campaign.

2

Foster an organizational culture of measurement.

If any member of your marketing team struggles with the finer points, it is worth taking the time to help them gain a full grasp. Place data and metrics at the center of every program, from conception to execution. In the modern marketing world, this is imperative. Again: if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. Your competitors are surely doing both.  

With these revelations in hand, you’ll be ready to attack the three W’s head-on:
What, Where, and When.

Using Marketing Analytics to Determine What to Say

Closely examine your first-touch attributions and velocity as they relate to specific initiatives. Which types of content bring people in and accelerate their interest? Which messaging resonates and tends to activate the next step?

This requires a granular view of your campaigns, parsing out trends and patterns based on individual measures. And it should never be a snapshot in time. Interests and motivations are not static. A subject that was relevant to your typical customer six months ago may not be so today.

Using attribution models, we can gauge the effectiveness of content for driving results at various stages. Lean on this information as the base for building your strategy. Let the data tell you which messaging breaks through, and which types of content are bringing the most bang for your buck. When you listen to marketing analytics, you learn about your audience, and once you know them you can speak to them more directly and sincerely.

Using Marketing Analytics to Determine Where to Say It

Which channels are performing when it comes to attracting leads, MQLs, and opportunities? A deep data marketing dive can uncover a wealth of crucial insights. It is one thing to gauge traffic from different referring sources, but everyone does that. The value comes from further tracking those referrals into the later stages of the pipeline.

Analytics allow us to measure based on influence rather than simply by volume. We can look past clicks and impressions to determine just how much a certain source is affecting purchase decisions. This is particularly important in the middle-of-the-funnel, which is often overlooked while marketers focus on which channels attract new eyeballs and which ones complete conversions.

This is where drawing meaningful connections within the buyer’s journey becomes critical. We should identify not only where prospects enter the pipeline, but where they go next, and which channels gain productivity based on certain conditions and experiences.

By culling data from a multi-touch attribution model, we can essentially draw out a map that tells us how prospects move through the funnel, and where opportunities exist to engage with a message that works.

Using Marketing Analytics to Determine When to Say It

Right place, wrong time. This clash happens in all walks of life, and in our current discussion, it is why the “when” is equally important to the “where.” The information gathered from an account analysis should help you arrange events in a chronological order, enabling you to gain a full grasp of customer behavior and how they proceed through the buying journey, both collectively and as individuals.

This is where you can really align your strategies and the sales funnel, with every single piece of marketing material serving a clear-cut, data-driven purpose. What content, at which stage of the pipeline, builds velocity and grows conversions? With the proper analytics at your disposal, you don’t need to hypothesize.

See Marketing Analytics In Action

Key Takeaways

1

Combine attribution models with metrics to generate clearly traceable ROI insights

2

Keep in mind that different content works at different stages, and measure throughout the funnel

3

Set clearly measurable goals and avoid the traps of dirty data and overabundance of sources

4

Rely on analytics to inform the what, when, and why of your marketing strategy

The Bottom Line

In some ways, the job of marketers has become more difficult. Roles and responsibilities are increasingly overlapping with sales, extending much deeper into the buying cycle. Industry pioneers of the 1970s and ‘80s didn’t have to deal with so many channels, so much competition, and so much noise.

But these challenges are offset by the incredible amount of analytical data we can now access. This enables a more engaging customer-centric approach than past generations could have ever conceived. Executing successfully requires leveraging the right info in the right ways. For more actionable insights on navigating the intricacies of today’s buyer journey, download The Definitive Guide to Multi Touch Attribution.

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