Most consumer marketers don’t know what to track when running a digital marketing campaign. If you are asking the question, what data should I track… you are further ahead than many. Smart marketers are just starting to ask this question.
Think back to the last digital marketing campaign you worked on.
1. Did you have a plan for which data to track?
2. Did you have a consistent way of storing data collected?
3. When planning the campaign, did you use metrics from past campaigns to budget and forecast accurately?
If you are like most digital marketing agencies and brand managers, you answered “no” to the questions above. But you’re probably also thinking that it would be nice to have:
A process that told you which data to track from your digital marketing campaigns (to make your life easier),
An easy way to store that data (so you don’t have to bother with it later), and
An easier way to plan campaigns and make great data-driven marketing decisions in the future (aka Digital Marketing Intelligence or DMI).
DMI, when leveraged properly, informs digital marketing decision making using a data-driven approach. Rome wasn’t built in a day, however. Reaching the point where your data can quickly and easily tell you everything you need to know takes a lot of planning. Here at Qoints, we’ve separated DMI proficiency into 4 levels; this is the first of a series of articles where we dig deeper into the defining characteristics of each level, and provide some pointers for reaching the next level.
DMI Level 1 is characterized by simple, one-off reports that lack context and insight.
Signs that your company is only running at DMI Level 1:
Each brand manager is making decisions about what to track and how to store data in on-the-fly, in isolation or with very little oversight
The brand’s digital campaign history is stored in silos, and/or scattered around various places in your agency, in the cloud, on laptops and client servers
Each campaign has its own KPIs and variables, making comparisons over time or across brands difficult or impossible
Digital marketing reports mainly contain metrics and numbers, with little or no context, comparison, benchmarks or analysis
Marketing campaigns are more often planned around a combination of best practices, gut feelings, art direction and budget availability, rather than historical data or industry benchmarks
Do any of these sound familiar? If so, don’t fret; the only way to go is up. Here are some tips to help get you to Level 2 and beyond:
Standardize digital marketing data across all of your company’s campaigns
When collecting digital marketing data (whether through a contest, coupon, sample, or any other kind of promotion), always store the same data points under a common format. For example, store gender data as “Male” rather than “M,” “Man,” or “m.” It sounds trivial, but when you amass data across many campaigns over time, standardization of data variables makes it a lot easier to benchmark by ensuring an apples to apples comparison.
Standardize KPIs and which metrics get tracked and reported
Every campaign has its own specific objective. But campaigns with differing objectives can still work together to provide context for an ongoing definition of success. Standardizing common metrics such as page visits, contest signups, Facebook shares, and coupon redemptions that occur in some or all other campaigns helps to make this possible. If the underlying data is standardized, and the brand managers know ahead of time which information must be collected and stored, then you’ll be able to generate more useful key performance indicator (KPI) benchmarks from them. Not only that, but your KPI benchmarks will be more reliable because they are generated by a larger and more recent sample size of campaigns (even if the mechanics and objectives of each campaign are slightly different).
Storing your digital marketing data in a standardized way can require a lot of new processes and planning if you are starting from scratch to develop your own methods and tools. Brand managers at first will likely be reluctant to adopt yet another set of steps to go through for each campaign, but in the end it will save them time, make reporting easier, help them plan future campaigns more efficiently, and make their clients happier through better, more contextual data-driven reporting.
It’s worth the investment to get to DMI Level 2.