Analytics in digital has turned the business of marketing on its head. Earlier, it was difficult for a marketer to tie a conversion directly to an effort, whether TV, print, OOH, or otherwise. The emergence of digital made it possible to establish such ties, with click-through advertising as an example. However, the continued explosion of digital touchpoints and infinite consumer journeys has brought us full circle, resurfacing the attribution challenge of the past in a more mature digital age.
by Martin Birmingham
Now, fragmented and sometimes hidden purchase paths have made measurement a dizzying errand for marketers. Far too often, investments are made based on mere perceptions of what’s working, when the reality is that many efforts are not.
As with many challenges faced in business, there are opportunities to work smarter, not harder. To deliver the biggest ROI on campaigns, marketers must capture and connect as many data points as possible to expose measurement blind spots. When it comes to marketing analytics, there is an enormous opportunity to get metrics and reporting right, but marketers building the tech infrastructure required to deliver modern campaigns today must be intentional early on to get the analytics they need.
In creating a broad pool of data, you have a bigger picture of the customer journey. Data reveals the nature and frequency of their digital interactions, at what point in the journey decisions are more likely to be made, and how behavior fluctuates depending on the month, season or specific social and cultural events.
Account for the nuances and preferences of different geographies
From a creative and copy standpoint, marketers understand that successful campaigns on a global stage require careful consideration of cultural norms and differences.
Content that resonates with an audience in the U.S. or UK, for example, may need to be scaled back or tweaked slightly for other countries. What means something in English may not directly translate to another language, or a photographed fashion style may fall flat in a region where it’s not a trend.
At the same time, there are some dangers brands face if they blindly rely on data without thinking of the specific context, or act on it without asking if the insights should be leveraged. Data may expose market biases on things like race, gender, ability or age that may not match the beliefs of a brand. Marketers need to prioritize the responsible navigation of data, working to maximize impact and conversion while still remaining true to brand standards. The human assessment of insights is crucial for brands to identify strategies, carefully considering and addressing each stage of the consumer journey to strike a balance with performance and integrity.
As much as marketing is an art, it’s a science, too. Clues that point to the impact that cultural differences have on content engagement lie in the data, posing interesting questions that may not have been thought of otherwise. Marketing teams need democratized access to the analytics so they can study how diverse audiences consume content differently, inviting diverse team members to help in evaluating outcomes also.
- Across time zones, what times of day are people engaging?
- Does content served up on a weekday lead to more favorable engagement outcomes, or are weekends more likely to drive results?
- What browsers are accessed from country to country, and is the campaign’s content optimized to be viewed properly across all channels?
These are all critical components of campaign planning that, if not accounted for ahead of time, can lead to costly misses.
Pinpoint channels of real purpose to build real connections
Over the last decade there has been an explosion of new digital touchpoints. With new content formats and emerging channels to engage on, brands and marketers have pursued omnichannel capabilities, being active on any and all channels where prospective audiences interact. But as the landscape evolves, people are understanding that it’s far more valuable to focus on the right message, for the right audience, on the right channel and at the right time, in order to maximize conversion and engagement. This “opti-channel” marketing approach can only be executed if marketers have the metrics readily available to determine those “right” decisions, moving where the analytics signal them to go as user preferences and behavior fluctuates.
One example of a major blind spot is “dark social,” or social shares in microbrowsers such as Facebook, WhatsApp or iMessage that do not contain any digital referral information about the source.
Marketers must turn a light onto the dark spaces they cannot see in order to grasp how peer referrals in microbrowsers contribute to web traffic and campaign results. In our recent study, we found that while nearly 64% of links shared within microbrowsers have their campaign IDs intact, the other 36% don’t. Marketers must understand the bigger picture and possible missed opportunities when ignoring how content is viewed in a microbrowser. Understanding microbrowser traffic and its relationship to social media can help correlate where conversions are really coming from. By doing this, marketers can boost or reduce spend accordingly to see a better ROI.
Improve alignment between marketing and IT to democratize data & insights
Marketing teams often deploy the tools they think they need, excited about the workflow benefits or efficiencies they’ll gain by putting them to use. However, if marketers, developers and the IT powers don’t keep in step with each other through these implementation decisions, companies can be left with several point solutions that fall short of a cohesive, organization-wide technology stack – especially one that delivers the analytics needed for robust campaign planning. With visibility into marketing’s needs and goals, IT can offer valuable insights into how preferred solutions can be integrated with other systems, benefiting the entire company at scale and providing insights to all relevant teams.
To avoid missing out on the advantages of diverse thinking to interpret data differently – and therefore propose new opportunities to turn insights into action – ensure democratized access to the insights. All content creators need access to user-engagement metrics to make informed decisions. This includes measuring consistency, consumer awareness, and all-important engagement metrics to keep a pulse on how the brand’s messaging resonates. When planning new content, martech solutions like a DAM can help to pinpoint the most-used content and identify gaps, too. With the data to identify assets that are rarely used, businesses can investigate the root cause, and then repurpose, enhance or create different versions to test engagement.
Navigating the world of data and analytics in the quest to win consumer attention has become a daily undertaking for marketers. The good news is that with the right approach and technology, that effort leads to greater opportunity.
Martin Birmingham is Director of Product at Cloudinary. Martin serves as director of product at Cloudinary having previously leveraged multiple media products and solutions for some of the world largest brands, agencies and media producers.