Marketing ROI: Big Bucks or a Total Bust?

Connecting the Data Dots to Improve Marketing ROI

Are your campaigns driving big bucks or are they a total bust? That’s probably the most important question we have to answer as marketers. To determine this, you have to connect the dots and unlock the value of the data. However, depending on the current state of your data, you may not even know where to start.


How do you diagnose your current situation with marketing metrics?

When it comes to your metrics, most marketers likely fall into one of these three categories:

You don’t track anything. If your boss comes by to ask how effective your last campaign was and you suddenly feel like a deer caught in the headlights, you probably fall into this category. People fall into this category because they don’t know what to track or how to track it. They also may not have the right tools in place to be able to properly monitor and report metrics. Unfortunately, when you’re not tracking anything, it is pretty hard to determine what’s working well and if your marketing investments are worth it.

You’re tracking all the wrong things. You might be tracking some metrics, but the real question is – are they the right metrics to be tracking? To answer, you must be sure the data is relevant, meaningful and unbiased. The goal of having metrics is to enable better decisions and improvements that drive your business forward. You can spend time tracking any number of things. However, when it comes to moving the needle, you need to make sure the metrics you have in place are helpful and equipping you with the information needed to justify marketing’s spend, determine the best way to invest marketing resources, allow you to improve campaign results and drive more sales.

You track everything but are overwhelmed by the amount of data you’re getting back. Do you have so much data that you can’t make heads or tails of it? The term for this is information overload. In this case, you are tracking all the data but you don’t know how to isolate the important information and focus on what is going to move the needle. You also may in fact be tracking all the right things but fail to analyze it in a way that identifies what you should be doing differently. You can’t simply report metrics, you need to figure out how to use your data to improve performance.

6 Steps to Unlock the Value of your Data and Turn it into Actionable Insights

Regardless of where you fall in those three categories, having data alone doesn’t make you successful. A bunch of numbers, facts and figures is data – but on it’s own, it isn’t all that useful. The real value is when you unlock your data and turn it into actionable insights. Marketers need to organize their data in a way that makes it easy to view, drill down, understand, analyze and take action on it. In other words – analytics.

The best modern marketers rely on data because it can help with everything from identifying new opportunities and understanding performance, to determining the best areas on which to focus to achieve desired results. Ultimately, when data is a marketer’s best friend, it will enable you to better track performance, identify new opportunities and become an overall more informed marketer.

Step 1: Set goals based on business objectives.

Rather than trying to do this in isolation, have a sit down with your stakeholders (sales marketing management, maybe even product) and make sure you have a clear understanding of what goals you need to achieve and how marketing fits into the bigger picture for your business. Once you have those goals, you can use them to make sure you track the right data and ensure that everything you do rolls up to those objectives.

Step 2: Identify what data you need to track progress against those goals.

Having goals may be the first step, but you also need to be able to track your progress toward those goals. That’s where data comes in. Take some time to understand what data you need – including what data points from which data source and how it needs to be put together in order to understand how you stack up. Life tip – don’t waste your time with things that won’t help you get to your goal.

Step 3: Make sure the data is meaningful.

Nothing is going to annoy your sales team more than reporting metrics they don’t think are important. Talking about all the leads you created or how great your email open rates are isn’t all that relevant. Yes, it may be helpful for trying to make campaign improvements and is also vital for you to analyze and strive to make your emails more effective, but talking about those things outside marketing’s circle of trust isn’t going to be very helpful for anyone else.

Step 4: Define your metrics.

What are your important metrics? There are a countless number of things you can track, but you need to figure out which ones are most important to your company. At the executive level for example, understanding the ROI and if marketing is delivering is top priority. As a marketing team on the other hand, you need to look at the more tactical metrics to handle the day-to-day operations.

Step 5: Assess the current state of your data.

Once you know what your goals are and the metrics you want to track, it’s time to assess the current state of your data. Your marketing team should be able to answer the following questions:

  • Where will the data come from? Marketing automation? CRM?
  • Do you trust the data?
  • Do you have all the data you need? If not, where can you get the missing pieces?

Step 6: Invest in an analytics tool.

The amount of data available today is overwhelming to say the least. However, to succeed in today’s marketing world, you need to use data to your advantage and since you can’t just ignore it, you need to find a way to understand and learn from data without hitting information overload. The answer is analytics. When you have the right type of analytics tool in place, you’ll not only avoid information overload, but you’ll also be able to use data to act more strategically and improve productivity. Smart marketers know that data insights create focused execution and stronger results and advanced analytics help you make smarter decisions.

Adjust Your Course as Needed and Develop an Action Plan

So you’re using your analytics tool regularly and you know your marketing program performance like the back of your hand. Now it’s time to put all of your intelligence to work. To do so, develop an action plan that dictates what you should focus in on, how long you should wait to understand what’s an actual trend in the data versus what’s just a blip. When you do this, you will gain insight into what’s working and not working and feel more empowered to make the changes that are most effective.