How to Create a Marketing Analytics Plan
By: Gordon Plutsky | 09/13/2016
Everyone in B2B marketing is talking about the importance of data & analytics, measurement, KPIs, ROI and other metrics based tactics. However, it often remains an afterthought or done in a reactive manor to report to management on a campaign. With data becoming more integral for tech marketers, it is time to adopt a more formal process; and to develop an analytics strategy and plan for your marketing tactics. This could be for web sites, emails, display or native ads, lead gen campaigns, webcasts or social media.
By following these steps and best practices you can develop a plan that will help you get the most out of your marketing dollars.
First and foremost, confirm that the marketing campaign and selected KPIs align with the overall marketing strategy (i.e. lead gen, nurture, content engagement, top of the funnel awareness) for the campaign. While it seems obvious, if this step is skipped the entire plan can be flawed. You want alignment between the desired marketing objective, the campaign tactics and the metrics that will be used to determine success and help optimize the program.
“The key is to understand what data point is the ‘signal’ and focus on it. Think of the signal as the critical data that tells you the strategy is working or not.”
It is important to focus on what is most important. A mistake that marketers can make is gathering too much information and getting too much “noise” which doesn’t tell you anything actionable. The key is to understand what data point is the “signal” and focus on it. Think of the signal as the critical data that tells you the strategy is working or not. Understanding the signal is an important step in establishing predictive analytics. For further reading on the topic check out Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail.
Create an Analytics Brief
The next step is to create an analytics brief as a formal written document. It is similar to a creative or content brief that describes the overall mission of the campaign. You are committing your strategy and key KPIs to paper, and you can get key stakeholders to sign off on the plan.
Once the brief is agreed upon it is time to set up your specific measurement plan and get into the details. For example, setting up Google Analytics on a new site and deciding what key events and goals you are going to measure. And, setting up audience segments and creating a tagging plan so all media outreach and promotions can be measured accurately.
Create a UTM plan for the efforts planned across media platforms (PPC, custom and display ads, content syndication, social posts and ads, etc.). A UTM code is a simple code that you can attach to a URL in order to track a source, medium, and campaign name. This enables Google Analytics to tell you where site visitors came from as well as what campaign directed them to you. It is CRITICAL to accurately tag all outbound marketing tactics with your UTM codes. It allows you to evaluate the traffic sources and help optimize programs. Here is some additional reading and “how to’s” on UTM tagging.
As an option, you may want to create attribution models that could either focus on the last consumer touch or multi touch models to better allocate credit between channels and campaigns that tend to occur earlier in the customer journey vs. those that occur later. It is a complex issue and you can read more about it here.
Reporting and Analysis
When it comes to reporting your data, the market is moving towards business intelligence visualization tools. These powerful platforms allow real time data analysis and give you infinite ways to analyze and display your data. This is very helpful when presenting data to an executive or non-technical audience.
Wrap it all up with a written executive summary that delves into the “why” behind the results. Explain the results in context of large market dynamics and past benchmarks. It is helpful to discuss key takeaways from the program and make recommendations for the road forward.
Taking a more planned and strategic approach to measurement will begin to improve your overall performance and return on investment.