Mind the Gap: How To Get the Most Out of Your Analytics Investment

by | Apr 27, 2017

We all believe in the power of data to help make better deci­sions. However, the reality doesn’t always match the belief.

In a recent CMO Survey conducted by the Fuqua School of Busi­ness, market­ing leaders report plan­ning to increase market­ing analyt­ics invest­ment by 376% over the next three years. However, in the same survey CMOs report only lever­ag­ing analyt­ics in about 31% of their most strate­gic deci­sions.

What gives? Well, a few things actu­ally. There is a lack of process and tool selec­tion strat­egy to measure success, as well as a lack of people to trans­late market­ing to analyt­ics. This is a big problem for the enter­prise, and clarity is in short supply.

This blog post will intro­duce four concepts to help you bridge the gap between your analyt­ics invest­ment and insights and action:

  1. Tool selec­tion
  2. Data connec­tion
  3. Level­ing up and trans­lat­ing across the enter­prise
  4. Treat­ing analyt­ics like a people busi­ness

Picking a tool

Many compa­nies obsess over tools because they are the easiest problem to solve—everyone is trying to sell you tools! Yet very few compa­nies with amazing tools are doing equally amazing things with analyt­ics.

Taking the wrong approach to tool selec­tion is part of the problem. Instead of buying tools based on their capa­bil­i­ties, select tools based on how the vendors solve for your primary use cases. They have to show you—not just tell you—it is possi­ble.

Second, don’t be hasty in jumping on the real time report­ing band­wagon. Just because a tool can report in real time doesn’t mean it is useful to you. How many busi­ness func­tions can you confi­dently opti­mize in real time? Many orga­ni­za­tions know that the answer is precious little.

Good market­ing strat­egy takes many busi­ness cycles to put together. Real time report­ing is useful for letting you know some­thing major is broken—use it for that. Other­wise, don’t get swept up in that current. Your analyt­ics invest­ment should focus on “right time” rather than “real time”.

Search Discovery - Michael Helbling- Maximize Analytics Investment - Connected Data

Connected data is useful data

Most of your data, such as email perfor­mance, website metrics, and CRM leads, ends up in silos. But if customer and prospec­tive customer inter­ac­tions do not occur in a silo, neither should your approach to analyt­ics. There are real people behind your analyt­ics data who have differ­ent moti­va­tions, intents and needs that you also need to pay atten­tion to.

As a marketer, simply ingest­ing a ton of digital click­stream data isn’t enough. If you don’t know the like­li­hood of a user with partic­u­lar behav­iors turning into a customer, you don’t know enough about the people behind your data. To gain these insights, make sure your analyt­ics game plan involves crush­ing data silos and bring­ing all metrics together into one system. This is defi­nitely the most chal­leng­ing aspect of imple­ment­ing a cohe­sive enter­prise report­ing system. But in the long run, it will help you get the most out of your analyt­ics invest­ment.

Level up and translate across

At Search Discovery, we use a chal­lenge ques­tion when we sit down to build dash­boards: “That’s inter­est­ing, but is it useful?” Anything you will look at again and again must be stripped of all inter­est­ing data, and focus exclu­sively on the useful. An analyt­ics metric is only useful if it corre­sponds to impor­tant busi­ness objec­tives.

For example, consider those at a senior level in an orga­ni­za­tion. They do not need to know every keyword that drove a paid search click this past month. But they do need to know what mix of media in the last quarter drove new customers, and how that differs from last quarter’s strat­egy.

Data is most effec­tive when report­ing focuses on what is specif­i­cally useful to that organization’s goals. It is essen­tial to make sure your analyt­ics invest­ment uses report­ing processes that track metrics and create dash­boards that commu­ni­cate useful data in a way that trans­lates directly to busi­ness impact.

Search Discovery - Michael Helbling- Maximize Analytics Investment - People Business

Analytics is a people business

Depend­ing on who you’re talking to, you’ll get a differ­ent answer for why analyt­ics report­ing is broken at an orga­ni­za­tion. The analysts believe it is because no one listens to them or pays atten­tion to their insights. And the exec­u­tives don’t have time for analy­sis framed by people with poor busi­ness acumen and one sided perspec­tives based on one data set.

As an exec­u­tive, one of the best paths to reso­lu­tion is to “adopt an analyst”. Teach them what deci­sions you are trying to make. They will in turn start educat­ing you on how the avail­able data can assist in those deci­sions. Begin that part­ner­ship at the indi­vid­ual level, and then scale it across your orga­ni­za­tion.

Poor insights come from bad or misun­der­stood ques­tions. Build a bridge to your analyst by explain­ing more when­ever possi­ble. And let them teach you how their data maps to the metrics and KPIs that you use to run the busi­ness.

So what’s the moral of the story? Select­ing a tool puts you on the right track to build­ing an analyt­ics program, but your investment’s utility may not be quite so fleshed out. No orga­ni­za­tion will continue to invest without a return, so it’s crucial to approach data connec­tiv­ity strate­gi­cally and nurture the people-centric side of your analyt­ics program.

If you need help driving connec­tion, trans­la­tion and educa­tion to maxi­mize ROI on your report­ing systems, talk to us. We can’t sell you any tools, but we do offer solu­tions that help orga­ni­za­tions get the most out of their analyt­ics invest­ments.