This post is the first in a series of articles exploring the 4 levels of DMI and how organizations can improve their data-driven marketing efforts to move up the DMI ladder.

Digital Marketing Intelligence (DMI) is the ability to derive actionable insight from the data you collect. Executed properly, a DMI strategy supports a marketing campaign in the planning phase, during execution, and following completion as planning for the next campaign begins.

Introducing Digital Marketing Intelligence

Most companies create streams of customer and performance data, but have no way of pulling it all together to make any kind of data-driven decisions. Only 15% of marketers are actually using data to guide their decision making. The conditions that have led to this environment are generally a combination of the following:

  • Data pours in from too many disparate sources

  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are not well defined, relevant, or measurable

  • Product and brand managers aren’t data scientists, and they don’t have the time to pore over tons of disconnected information effectively

These aren’t excuses. They’re realities. Here’s another reality for you: if you’re not contextualizing your data into one cohesive story, you’re wasting your money collecting it. Data can show you so much if you know where and how to look at it, so there’s no reason to let it go to waste

To help understand DMI and how it relates to your overall marketing success and ROI, we’ve broken down the journey to best-of-breed DMI into four levels. Let’s look at the four levels now, and consider where your company stands.


Level 1 – Hello, 2005

Most brands, agencies and organizations are uncomfortably at Level 1 — I say uncomfortably because while they’ve been collecting data since the early days of Web 2.0 (because they knew they should), they feel like they’ve been wasting their time and money.

Worse, they’re frequently wasting their clients’ and stakeholders’ time with it. They’ve been trotting out the same uncontextualized plans and reports at presentations, and hoping they’re not asked to go into greater detail. They’re pleased when they can report that their efforts resulted in a 2% drop in cost per acquisition for example, but have no idea why or how it happened, or what they can do to boost it to 3% or even more.

Level 1 organizations aren’t just missing the big picture — they don’t even know it’s there to be seen. It’s an archaic way of doing business and a huge opportunity missed for better understanding the results of an in-market campaign and planning for greater success in future ones.


Level 2 – Want context. Can’t get context.

A DMI Level 2 organization is miles ahead of Level 1 in that they’re deliberately tracking and cataloguing certain KPIs. Their challenges are in how to standardize their reporting and figuring out how to draw useful insights from their marketing data. They recognize the value of their data, but are struggling with how to get contextual insights without investing way too many hours into data analysis.

Level 2 is when many organizations start working with us because we take care of the data warehousing and analysis for them. No matter where the data comes from, we collect it, break it down, run it through our algorithmic filters and send it back as an easy-to-read report.

We’ve previously written on some first steps you can take to move from DMI Level 1 to 2 by TRACKING YOUR MARKETING CAMPAIGNS USING GOOGLE ANALYTICS.


Level 3 – Better, Stronger, Faster!

Level 3 is exciting because your DMI muscle is working overtime. You’re like a blind man who can suddenly see. And with DMI benchmarks on your side, there’s a lot to see.

Brands at DMI Level 3 are at an advantage because they have found a way standardize their marketing campaign data and leverage that data for actionable insights. This isn’t an easy feat, but the rewards are

  • better marketing campaign planning,

  • more accurate forecasting of campaign effectiveness and budget requirements, and

  • real-time optimization of marketing campaigns.

The type of questions that a brand at DMI Level 3 is asking are things that marketers at Levels 1 and 2 can only dream of. Level 3 brands are being guided by the data they’ve been collecting all along. It’s no longer about the numbers — it’s about the story that the numbers tell.

  • What king of costest has generated more entries per media dollar spent in our target demographic, instant win or grand prize sweepstakes?

  • Which media channels have been the most effective at reaching our target audience in our last 5 promotions?

  • What was the average conversion rate for our last 3 online coupon offers?

At Level 3 you’re making data-guided decisions as opposed to data-driven guesses. You can defend any move you make with hard data, and you can answer any question a client or stakeholder has, often before they even think to ask it.

A brand that is operating at DMI Level 3 will be able to leverage insights based on their own past campaign performance for factors such as CONTEST CONVERSION RATE OPTIMIZATION metrics. The advantage over other agencies and brands who do not have this kind of intel is clear.


Level 4 – Jedi Knight. Philosopher King. Mac Daddy of Metrics.

There’s one more level in the evolution of digital marketing intelligence capabilities: competitive benchmarking. Internal benchmarking of digital marketing campaigns shows you where you stand against your own historic performance and is a massive advantage. But seeing your campaigns in the context of industry-wide benchmarks is a whole new level of empowerment.

At DMI Level 4, you’re at the leading edge. You’re using your data not just as an evaluator but also as a forecaster. Your reports and insights are comprehensive and well thought out. And your meetings last half as long because you’re impossible to argue with.



As digital marketers move toward easier and more effective ways of understanding the effects of what they do, there are challenges all along the way. The benefits of being able to get more digital marketing intelligence are clear no matter where you stand today. So,

  • how do you track and store your digital marketing data?

  • what are you doing to make sense of it?

  • how are you learning from past digital marketing campaigns?

  • how will your next one be better?


If you’re at Level 4, we’re right there with you. We’re working on new solutions every day and have some pretty mind-blowing ideas in development. Stay tuned for details and if you find yourself at the low end of this scale, there’s no time like the present to begin setting yourself up for data-driven success.

Remember, DMI isn’t the future — it’s already the present for savvy brand marketers.