Making sense of your marketing data is easier said than done. And it's pointless if you're unable to act on it. The question is - how many of us succeed in using data to make better-informed decisions?
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The key challenge for marketers in 2021
As a marketer, most of us have experienced the pains of data silos. We have data scattered across different tools and platforms and lack that holistic view. (I've certainly experienced that pain, along with others, during my career - not having the whole picture or data you can trust.)
However, things are changing. With self-perfecting algorithms, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and smarter tools to help us collect, prep, and analyze data, marketers are more empowered than ever before. We've certainly come very far, and it's only going to get better.
Why measurability matters in marketing
Most marketers know what the marketing funnel is. And I can bet we've all experienced some frustration with it. At first, it was a beautiful invention because one could show direct business impact. It showed how a visitor to a website would trickle down to become a customer. If a company invested in inbound, it could generate unprecedented leads and increase sales. Hubspot was a pioneer in this space. However, inbound wasn't a hallelujah moment - not yet!
The internet has become super noisy, and there are trillions of pages indexed on Google. Today, it's not enough to just create educational and inspirational content because everyone is doing it. Not only that, people are increasingly distracted and don't like to read anymore (like this blog post, for example). If you want to be noticed in all that noise, you have to stick out and be different - the big question is "How?"
Being different isn't enough, though. Marketers need to think about how to promote themselves aggressively across channels. One can't rely solely on organic traffic to generate leads - you need to have a smart paid strategy. On top of that, you can't ignore earned media's value to build brand credibility and trust.
All of this to say, marketing has and is a multidisciplinary activity. And because marketing has become cross-functional, it has become increasingly challenging to identify what is driving growth. A marketing department can have demand-gen, content, product, field, and PR teams, and these teams can be centralized and or dispersed across markets.
To figure out what drives growth, marketing professionals are trying to be more data-driven and work agile - but it's easier said than done.
The marketing funnel problem
Today's real challenge is that there's just so much data, and bringing all that data together in a way that allows you to make quick decisions has been challenging and tedious.
Marketers started using more MarTech tools, channels, and platforms and started to run more campaigns than ever before to reach customers. Data became scattered, and digital marketers couldn't say with certainty which channel or campaign was providing the best ROI. (Or they could, but it was a long manual process, one prone to error.) Marketers couldn't answer the one, most important question: What was driving growth?
With the marketing funnel, I've certainly faced skepticism during my time. Numbers are always questioned and scrutinized - and I suppose that's healthy for any business. Questions like these come up:
- Was this a marketing-generated or sales-generated deal?
- Is that the real ROI of that campaign?
- Can we attribute this much revenue to it?
- What action is generating the most revenue?
- Where should we put our budget to increase revenue?
Naturally, business leaders always seem to take whatever data presented to them with a pinch of salt. And we marketers naturally panic as we try to prove marketing's worth to the organization. We get stuck with putting together reports to help justify that what we're doing is working - but again, this takes time, is prone to error, and prevents us from focusing on the real work - i.e.) doing marketing that drives business growth.
The solution to marketing reporting in 2021
It's not all doom and gloom, though.
There are fantastic tools out there to help you collect, prep, and analyze your marketing data (like Funnel, for example). Yet to get it right, you need to know what the most important KPIs are for your business. You need to set up a streamlined process for your marketing reporting - always to have decision-ready data at your fingertips. Again, the aim is to get data you can act on fast.
To learn more about how you can up-your-game in marketing reporting, attend our upcoming webinar. Business consultant Janus de Visser, from Cloud Nine Digital, will provide us with some answers.