As I kick off my new column here with The Customer. Each month I hope to offer you actionable ideas and insights into making your marketing more effective – and finding ways to implement your marketing more easily. So, let’s dive right in!
One of the topics that comes up a lot these days is privacy of our content. (AI is another — and I’ll get to that in an upcoming article.) In general, these articles are pretty negative from a marketer’s perspective, even when they point out that we, as consumers, should benefit from the regulatory changes and data handling practices that companies like Apple and Brave are implementing.
What’s lost in that conversation is a look at privacy and data handling from the marketer’s perspective that goes beyond the inconvenience of, for example, losing the ability to lose 3rd party cookies.
If we look deeper we can see that a review of the data we’re gathering from our website analytics packages and other sources will review room for improvement. By taking a hard look at the data we’ve been collecting and how we’re using it, many marketers are likely to see not just the proverbial haystack of data, but an entire field of hay that we’re asking our teams to sift through to find the needle — the actionable insights that we’re all looking for.
There are two ways to combat this problem. The easiest is simply to collect less data. That can be a really powerful approach, though it’s not always easy to do since many of the tools you’re likely to use are set up to gather the maximum amount of data possible, and don’t really give you the opportunity to turn off individual spigots that make up the firehose of data.
What nearly all of these tools do provide, though, are dashboards. Your marketing team should be setting up multiple dashboards to create views into segments of the data that are more useful than the full stream is ever likely to be. Among the areas you might want to look at individually are:
- Visitor paths/behavior
- Content consumption
Each of these can themselves be an overwhelming amount of information to digest, but each is focused on one particular aspect of your marketing that is either contributing to a positive ROI or impeding that ROI.
The specifics of what makes a good dashboard will depend on your business, but you’ll certainly want your dashboards to provide you with a small handful of KPI data points presented in a visually appealing and easily digestible way.
The data points you see at a glance should lean toward actionable, though some will be more a display of vital signs that allow you to check the health of your marketing efforts quickly.
A good dashboard should make it easy for you to put the data it’s presenting in context. Frequently, this means giving you a way to look at moving pictures rather than snapshots — is 100,000 visitors good? Not if you had 120,000 last month — and giving you a way to dig deeper into data points that might provide insights into why your visitor numbers are up or down.
One final thought on the amount of data you collect: as I mentioned above, you aren’t always easily able to control the data an analytics package provides to you. You can control the content you ask your visitors to provide. There are mountains of evidence showing that the more information you ask for, the fewer people there will be who are willing to provide it. Done right, you eliminate people who aren’t legitimate prospects before they ever clog up your funnel. Done wrong, and lose the opportunity to engage with potential clients.
Andrew Schulkind’s recently published book, Marketing for Small B2B Businesses – How Content Creates Marketing Muscle and Powers Traditional and Digital Marketing, is available on Amazon and elsewhere.