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

by | Apr 27, 2017 | ana­lyt­ics

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.