Here at the Journal, we get a number of questions from subscribers who are struggling to gain traction and generate meaningful results from their marketing analyses. While each question is unique to the situation at-hand, we do tend to see some common threads with respect to the underlying sources of problems and challenges.
For example, here are five of the most significant problems underlying the marketing analysis questions we’ve been fielding recently:
- No Profitability View. Far too many marketing operations are attempting to make investment decisions and optimizations based on intermediate performance metrics like lead volume, response rates, CPCs, and so on. And lacking an understanding about the profits being generated by various marketing activities, they’re either struggling to get support for their recommendations, or their recommendations are being followed to disastrous ends and they’re losing all credibility.
- Lack of Segmentation. When marketing analysts are generating a lot of “false signals” and having their findings picked-apart on a regular basis, it’s not uncommon to learn that their segmentations are lacking. As marketing analysis is largely a comparative process, there has to be a reasonable expectation of similar outcomes and behaviors between whatever you’re comparing—otherwise, your marketing analyses will always be comparing apples to oranges.
- Asking Weak Questions. The benefits you reap from marketing analysis are directly correlated to the quality of the questions you’re trying to answer. You can’t expect to generate significant impacts focusing on relatively minor, tactical questions like, “How were the response rates on that last email campaign?” When you ask more powerful questions such as, “Which customers are inherently more profitable to acquire?” and “How can we invest more in the things with the highest returns?” you’ll get much more valuable answers.
- Analysis for “Proof”. Some teams…not many, thankfully…but some…are performing marketing analysis simply to prove that whatever they are doing is working. They’re approaching the effort with foregone conclusions and predetermined outcomes already in mind. Basically, they’re trying to make the data say what they want it to say, attempting to justify their pet programs and favorite tactics. Done correctly, marketing analysis should be about learning the truth, whatever that may be, in order to make adjustments and drive continuous improvement.
- Lack of Action. To generate improved results, your analyses have to drive different actions and investments. This seems somewhat obvious, yet marketing analysts are sometimes hesitant about making recommendations. They prefer to just generate reports in the hopes that others will draw the right conclusions and drive the necessary changes. This is leaving far too much to chance. To ensure a meaningful impact, marketing analysts need to get comfortable with saying, “The data seems to indicate that we should stop doing X and we should do more of Y.”
Of course, all of these underlying problems are addressable. Granted, they may not be quick or simple fixes, but the solutions are fairly straightforward. The key, however, is to not get so focused on the symptoms that you fail to step back and recognize that there may be something else going on—a underlying issue that, once solved, knocks out a bunch of different symptoms all at once.