How to Get Started with Marketing Analytics – A 5-Step Framework
Maybe you’ve been plagued with this in your own organization. You know a ton of numbers, but you’re not actually getting anything done with those numbers. But how does this happen? Because this happens all too often in the world of measurement. It happens because there’s no framework for those numbers.
In this article we’re going to give you a very simple five step framework that you can put to use immediately to actually start getting stuff done. Now we’re going to talk right now about a simple five step framework that you should be instituting in your own organization. And be sure to stick around until the end because at that point, I’m going to share with you the biggest mistake almost every marketer I know makes.
So, we’re going to start with step number one, which is planning. Now I know you might be thinking of course we do planning. You probably don’t do it in this particular way. Planning is actually three little steps. The first is you have to think through what are the questions that you are trying to answer? The second is what information will we need to collect in order to get those answers?
And then finally, what actions will we take based upon those answers? It’s something we call the QIA model. Question, information, and then the action from the answers that you get. Now, what’s the most important part of that? The action. And this is a huge pro tip. If you cannot tie the answers that you’re getting to an action, to a marketing action, you might be collecting a vanity metric. But if you can tie it down to a marketing action, you know it’s something useful. You know it’s not a vanity metric, it’s something you can actually do something with.
Now also in that planning stage, you can start to whiteboard out what a report might look like. You can sort of sketch it out on the back of a napkin or a post it notes or a whiteboard. So, you understand how you’re going to be able to see these answers coming through.
Now the second step is the build, and that’s where you’re using tools like Google Analytics to collect and store all the information that you’re going to need to answer the questions that you came up with in that first step, which was the planning stage. Now, one other tool that you might consider using is Google Tag Manager. Google Tag Manager is really good at helping you, as a marketer, get more visibility into the different behaviours that are happening on the site. Essentially it gives you a chance to get better questions answered, because you get more specific answers.
The third step is reporting. Now you can use the Google Analytics reports. Maybe you’ve already tried to do that. They’re actually pretty good, but they do contain a lot of information that you probably don’t necessarily need to see because they’re trying to answer a lot of different questions all at once. But in reality, there is another platform you should take a look at. It’s called a Google Data Studio and it has one purpose, and that is to help you create dashboards that answer your questions, and just your questions.
So, it doesn’t have a lot of extra information that you don’t really care about or need. It just gives you the answers that you need. And at this point you can start to see how the three are working together. In the planning stage you’re thinking about your questions, in the build stage you’re actually collecting information to get those answers. And in the reporting stage you’re actually displaying those answers so you can take the actions you said you were going to take.
Now the fourth step is forecasting, and this is one that’s often skipped. So instead of saying things like oh, we’ll just have a thousand clicks coming to the page, or we’re going to have $10,000 made next week, you start to say here’s how that’s going to happen. So, we’ll have $10,000, but that’s because we’re going to send a hundred thousand impressions from Facebook. Of those hundred thousand impressions on Facebook 1% will click through, 30% will opt in, half of those will buy through an email for an average cart value of whatever your cart value is, to equal $10,000. Results and how. So, you’re forecasting what your results are going to be, but you’re forecasting how you’re also going to get there. And so now what happens is when you set up your measurement, you’re asking the question, did it work like it was supposed to?
Finally, the fifth step. It’s just using the thing you set up. You’re just measuring against those results, and what’ll happen is you will instantly see what’s working and what’s not, what’s performing as expected and what isn’t. And that is the optimization step, where you come in and you look at your numbers and you say okay, the cart, the abandonment rate is way too high, it’s spiking up with this new traffic source.
Let’s go talk to the marketing department and fix this. Or maybe that’s your job and you get to tackle that. But either way, you know exactly where the issue is. Maybe it’s the fact that it was the average cart value, it wasn’t as high as you thought it was going to be. Or maybe it surprised you and was higher than you thought it was going to be. You can go in, you can figure out why, and you can duplicate the things that are working, you can scale out the things that are working. Or, you can fix the things that aren’t.
But either way, you’re going to know where to focus your resources, and that’s what’s most important about the optimization step. One thing that marketers tend to do is race toward that optimization step. So, they try to get into Google Analytics so they can go figure out what’s working and what’s not, as they can go take action. But in reality, they skipped planning, so they haven’t thought about the questions they’re trying to answer, they skipped the build, so they weren’t properly using the tools and setting up Google Analytics and setting up Tag Manager. So, they don’t actually have the information to even get the answers. They didn’t at all think about the fact of different actions they were going to take based upon those answers. There really was no reporting to do. They certainly aren’t forecasting. They’re just trying to optimize. And now with that sort of mindset, you can understand why it’s so difficult in a lot of organizations to get things done, because they’re skipping all the foundation steps. They’re just trying to race toward the end and it makes it unnecessarily hard. So, if you follow the five steps in that order, planning, building, reporting, forecasting, and then optimizing, you’ll find that you start getting a measurement culture in your own organization and the results come a little bit faster, because you’re going to know what’s working and what’s not in your own organization.
Finally, let’s talk about the biggest mistake we see most marketers make. And that really comes down to how they’re asking questions. Don’t feel bad if you’ve done this, because I certainly did. Most marketers ask questions like we want to know how the users are using our homepage, or we want to know how the users are going through the blog.
Now the idea is that if you magically knew this you would change things, you would adjust things, and you would take a bunch of action and you would get better results. But if you think about it, you don’t actually have anything in your head that you would actually do with that. It’s hard to really tie that stuff down to action.
So, I’m going to give you a way out of that, makes things a whole lot easier, and that is something called marketing forward. Instead of always going into your data to say hey what just happened? How did the user just use our site? You think to yourself how are users supposed to use the site, and did they use it like they were supposed to? It’s a very subtle but very powerful difference in how you use the reports.
So, if we go back to the homepage example, instead of asking, well, how are users using our homepage? You ask users are supposed to use our homepage like this. This is how it’s designed to be used. Are they using it like that? And you measure, you create a measurement set up, for that. So, if they’re supposed to be interacting with testimonials, you measure for that to see if they are, if they’re supposed to be coming leads because they’re clicking on opt in forms, you measure for that to see if they are. And you create your dashboard that actually gives you those answers right away. Now we’ve covered a lot of different tools in this article. We talked about Google Tag Manager, Google Analytics, Google Data Studio.