We have more access to data than we’ve ever had before. We can pull mounds of data from social platforms, Google Ads, Google Analytics, ad servers, third party vendors, third party data providers, etc. You get the point. There’s a lot of data.
That’s great – right?
It is, and provides great opportunity for marketers to be evidence-based in their actions, but it poses new challenges: in the massive expanse of available data, what metrics are the most valuable to a client’s business objectives? And how do we comb through the data to turn these metrics into insights and then into actionable strategies?
As Salina previously mentioned, presenting data is similar to eating cake: if you have too much, you go into a “data coma” where you may find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer volume of it. But, this so-called “data coma” is absolutely avoidable.
To provide our clients with a succinct, actionable metrics report, I like to follow a concept that’s been developed and applied to several different disciplines and industries: Six Sigma DMAIC. If that looks like gibberish to you, you can read more on that here. In a nutshell, it’s an acronym for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. These are words to live by in your reporting, and greatly inform how we consume, interpret, and present our reports.
First and foremost, define the critical metrics.
One of the most important steps to uncovering actionable insights begins before the campaign does; defining clear objectives upfront and deciding what metrics best deliver against those objectives.
This may seem like a very intuitive step but is most often overlooked in the rush to get a campaign into market.
In order to measure a campaign’s success, we need a clear picture of what success looks like, unique to you. While CTR, CPC, and CPM, among other media metrics, are all important to measure, looking beyond these is where the real value lies. How long are site visitors staying on site? What actions are they taking once they’ve landed there? Who are the users that are engaging most with our ads or our site’s content? How far are individuals scrolling down a page before exiting? How many users are converting? There are endless actions we could measure but identifying the factors that influence the highest rates of success are the ones we should prioritize.
Many business models operate with a bottom-line goal of sales, and we’ll often hear that a campaign’s success will be measured through sales achieved (or through a similar conversion). While it’s great to think at the macro-level, it’s also necessary to break reporting down into micro-steps, measured through several consumer touch points. Because a sale or conversion generally doesn’t happen without a website visit, or a product page visit, or maybe a long user session duration, perhaps a physical store visit or a phone call – whichever it may be, it’s important to understand, attribute and measure how each micro-step contributes to the big picture.
Format for easy consumption, comparison and consistency.
Think about receiving a report full of metrics that are shown for one tactic but not another, laid out in differently formatted charts, and over-cluttered with the all the data that could possibly be piled into a single report (okay, so this may not be everyone’s nightmare, but yes, it is mine). A poorly organized report not only makes it difficult to identify trends and compare tactics and creative versions fairly, but may also shave years off our clients’ lives while they try to piece it all together. A real injustice to all.
To analyze the right metrics and provide a valuable representation of campaign performance, it’s crucial to present data in a way that’s digestible and allows for sensible comparison. Laying out the key points in charts, highlighting key metrics in green or red, plotting key points in graphs – the list goes on. Make your report look easy to digest and it will become just that.
For all tactics included in a report, we should be reporting on the same set of values across the board. For example, if we report on Average Time on Page for one platform, but Average Session Duration on the next platform, we’re not really able to evaluate if one performed better than the other. Consistency is key for uncovering trends and insights at a campaign and tactic level.
Spend more time analyzing and less time compiling.
Simply put, we’re not doing our jobs if we spend more time collecting the data than we do making sense of it.
Analyzing and deriving insights can be difficult, especially if correlations aren’t inherently obvious at first glance. Even when you’ve organized your data into comparable formats and have called out some of your top metrics, you may need to take a step back and look at your data from a different angle. Segmentation is your best friend to analyze trends and better understand your consumer. Break your metrics out by demographic, geographic area, behaviours, affinity interests, and you’re almost guaranteed to learn something new about your consumer’s behaviour. This most importantly gives us the insight to pivot our audience targeting and make constant optimizations to improve our strategy.
Bottom line is, we should be spending 10% of our time compiling the data and 90% of our time understanding it.
Turn great insights into actionable recommendations.
This is the key; the reason why our clients come to us with a campaign in the first place, and it’s where we really have an opportunity to bring indispensable value.
I had a professor in university who lived by the phrase: “so what?” (hi, Tom!). Any fact or statement presented in his class would be met with this question, to which a student would usually scramble to think about why their fact is actually important and how it could inform a business decision. At the time, it seemed like a redundant exercise. But I’ve come to ask myself this question almost every day when I analyze a campaign report: “Great – but so what?” How can this finding influence future campaigns and how can we use this knowledge to better inform our strategy? This way of thinking influences our reporting exponentially.
For example, maybe we discovered that the most engaged audiences are coming from specific postal codes. We can share this with a client, but where we can give more value, is taking these learnings forward and giving geo targeted focus to these areas in future campaigns or considering doing a direct mail drop to these areas only.
Using our learnings to pivot during a campaign or inform the strategy of a future campaign is exactly why we do this job and it’s what makes us sleep soundly at night – giving our clients a clearer purpose and path to the right consumers.
Move from actionable to actioned.
The final piece to this puzzle is ensuring that our report and recommendations are shared with the right people (even those that you may not think of right off the bat). Everyone from the web developer to the content writer to the lead strategist can benefit from learning how the audience interacted with a campaign, and if the audience really was who we thought they were. These findings may lead the entire team to approach future briefs and campaigns differently from the start and will give the whole team a cohesive mindset.
In a one-sentence nutshell, well… a successful campaign needs to have defined metrics from the start with organized and consistent reporting layouts to ensure we can dive deep into uncovering campaign trends to inform smarter business decisions from an entire team.
Our Data Insights Team uses a live dashboard to help report on KPIs that matter to your business goals. As an example, they put together a dashboard that outlines Social Media Usage in Calgary and Edmonton. Find out how your audience is utilizing social media by clicking in the link below.