Data Analysts are a Marketer’s Best Friend

Marketers today need to be comfortable with data. They need to be able to understand what the data is telling them and how to make decisions based on that. The best hunches or instincts in the world cannot compete with data-driven strategies. Not in 2019.

But you and I are not the experts. We didn’t go to school to learn how to work with data (though perhaps more marketing coursework in the future will involve data analytics and statistics).

That’s why we need to befriend the people who are experts.

Data analysts and data scientists are the folks who know how to make sure your company is collecting the right data, how to review and sort through that data to get answers to critical business questions, and how to present their findings in a way that makes it easy to make business decisions.

For marketers, this skill set is a godsend. Here are just a few of the key ways marketers can work with data analysts to achieve better business results:

  1. Build real-time reporting by advertising channel that lets you view return on investment at the high level across channels and dive deeper within each channel to improve optimization decisions

  2. Gain a deeper understanding of how customers are progressing through the buyer journey and identify opportunities within the sales funnel to improve the likelihood of conversion

  3. Build more robust buyer personas with first-party data collected by your company that will help your sales team prospect more effectively and influence future branding and messaging decisions

  4. Isolate the impact of key pricing and promotional campaigns in order to determine the ideal pricing strategy that drives maximum profitability and sales

  5. Connect your data with key advertising platforms to derive greater value from AI and machine learning going forward, letting algorithms take the lead of spending decisions in order to maximize efficiency

Every marketing organization today needs people who are fully engaged with the data their company and their customers are generating. This data is a treasure trove of information that can be used to guide decisions at every level of the company.

As a marketer, you would be smart to spend more time with your company’s data analysts and data scientists, leveraging their incredible skill set to help you do more.

What Do You Know About Your Customers

Here is the simple truth – the more you know about your customers, the more successful you will be as a marketer or small business owner.

  • Knowing your existing customers will help you find more people like them
  • Knowing your existing customers will help you create products they want
  • Knowing your existing customers will help you provide better service

What should you know about your customers? In short, as much as you can.

You should know the things that relate to your business – how they found out about you, why they chose you over your competitors, how they use your product or service and whether it solves their problems, how they purchased, when and how much.

You should also know things that don’t relate directly to their interaction with your business. You should know things like where they live, how old are they, what do they do for a living, what are their hobbies and interests, where do they get their news, where do they shop, what else do they spend money on.

The world of big data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence will allow companies of all sizes to take advantage of information to improve their business. Marketers will have new ways of reaching out to potential customers with proven ROI. And with more data, those efforts will be more fruitful.

If you don’t know enough about your customers now, today is a great time to start learning. Collect data through user behavior tracking, focus groups and studies, surveys and questionnaires, interviews and direct customer outreach. Marketing departments should put someone in charge of customer knowledge and data analysis.

You may be surprised by how much information you already have on your customers. Start asking questions internally, streamline and protect that information for later use, find the holes and begin to fill them.

Can You Measure Brand Marketing?

We have talked here before about the difference between brand advertising and direct response. One of the reasons why direct response has gotten so much more popular with advertisers is their ability to track and measure it. One of the major drawbacks of branding activities, if you ask most marketers, is that they are very difficult to measure.

The best ways we have of measuring brand advertising produce a wide variety of metrics that may signal a strategy is working relative to other strategies, but don’t get directly to the full impact on sales, which is what really matters at the end of the day.

But just because we might not be able to measure the kind of impact on sales with as much precision as we can with direct response, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t measure at all. Here’s a look at some of things companies can measure and how, as far as branding activities are concerned:

  1. Nielsen is the old guard when it comes to mass media measurement. They can help companies measure who is seeing your ads, what their general reactions are to them, and whether it impacts their actions – based on self-reported outcomes.
  2. Brand awareness is a popular metric for measuring how your efforts are impacting consumers. Most brand marketing is aimed at one thing, putting your brand in front of consumers more, so that it is top of mind when they go to make a purchasing decision. Brand awareness is a good way to measure whether or not its working, because it tells you how familiar certain audiences are with your brand. Consumer research surveys are a great way to track it.
  3. Website traffic and search data are another way of measuring the impact your branding efforts have on consumer behavior. In markets where you are spending money on brand advertising, you can use Google Analytics and Google Trends to see if there is an increase in visitors to your website or searches of your brand.
  4. Social media monitoring is a popular method of analyzing the response to branding activities. Social listening tools allow you to track use of specific brand terms or hashtags related to your products and marketing efforts. You can measure overall engagement and the frequency these terms show up to see if your efforts are getting the attention you hope for.

Statistical Significance, Explained

What is statistical significance?

Wikipedia defines it this way. In statistical hypothesis testing, statistical significance is attained whenever the observed p-value of a test statistic is less than the significance level defined for the study.

In simpler terms, statistical significance is the point at which we can confidently conclude that the results of a test we are running are real, and not just a coincidence.

Why does statistical significance matter?

As marketers, we should love testing. We should test everything.

Some of the most common tests marketers do today include pricing, email subject lines, website (conversion rate optimization), and advertising copy.

Most tests are simple AB tests. We test one version directly against another, and we compare the results. But if you don’t measure for statistical significance, those results might lie to you.

For example, if you don’t have enough visitors to your website to achieve a statistically significant result, the “winner” of your test may be the winner for any number of reasons and not necessarily because of the changes you made between that version and the other.

When you do achieve a statistically significant result, you know with the utmost confidence that the changes you made directly resulted in the improvement or decrease in performance.

Here is a quick calculator for statistical significance that you can plug your test results into.

Most Underrated Web Metrics

The problem with data used to be that we didn’t have enough of it. The problem with data today is that there is just way too much of it.

Of course if you know what you’re looking for, you can get it. And everything else will fall aside.

But if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you will likely fall into the familiar trap of spending too much time on things that don’t matter. Last week, we looked at the most overrated web metrics.

Today I’d like to reverse that. Let’s have a look at those metrics that are underappreciated and underused, but very useful for many businesses to measure and improve:

  1. Page Value – Google Analytics allows you to set up your ecommerce metrics, so that when someone checks out on your website, you know how much they spent. Even if they aren’t checking out, you can assign a value to any action they might take, like submitting a lead form, etc. Then you can measure how each page on your site impacts those actions and sales. Pages with the highest value contribute the most to results and pages at the lower end might not be helping you as much as you hope.
  2. Conversion Rate by Device – while you should be measuring everything by device, conversion rate gets right to the important stuff. Assuming you are tracking sales and other actions, you should always pay attention to the relative likelihood of conversion on different devices. As more of your traffic comes from mobile, are you putting your design and development resources in the right place?
  3. Attribution – I’ll grant you that this is not a metric but a category of metrics, but since Google Analytics gives you the tools you need to figure this out, I feel okay including it on this list. For marketers, this is perhaps one of the most important things to know. What traffic sources and activities add value and which do not? A full attribution analysis will tell you the path that most often leads to a successful conversion. It will rank the things you do by their relative impact on results.

Remember, now that we have access to boat loads of data doesn’t mean we’re any better off than we were before. Only those marketers or companies that pay attention to the right metrics will come out ahead.