Dates: you can’t live with it and you can’t live without it. At least that’s how many marketers feel. In fact, the affair between marketers and their data is often a love-hate relationship of sorts.
Data can help you be a much more successful, analytical marketer who bases decisions on fact rather than hunch. But summarize all this data – and then analyze it correctly? It can give you a headache, and frankly, it can get pretty overwhelming at times.
While data can be challenging, successful marketers understand that it is a necessary evil, and most even learn to love data because it makes them better marketers.
When I first started working at HubSpot, I admitted that I wasn’t the most analytical person. But boy, has that changed?
So be marketer empowered! Learning how to really be data-driven can be extremely rewarding and can help you be more effective and get much better marketing results.
11 tips to support a data-driven marketing team
1. Use the right analytics.
It’s no wonder data can be such a headache – you need to have the right tools to collect it! And for many marketers, their analytics live in silos, making it difficult to compare data and metrics across channels.
For example, you could have analytics for your email marketing here, there, there … and there social media marketing analytics and blog analytics in a completely different place. Also, if you haven’t tied this data to your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, you’re missing out on some extremely valuable closed-loop analysis that can truly tell you about the ROI of each marketing channel – and your marketing strategy as a whole. You can imagine how all this disconnected and incomplete data can make it difficult to handle.
If you are not satisfied with your current marketing analytics solution and its ability to integrate all of your marketing data, finding a new solution is a good place to start. We wrote a blog post to walk you through the process of choosing the perfect marketing analytics solution for your needs. It highlights important questions to ask prospective analytics providers (including HubSpot!) Before making a purchase.
2. Assign specific metrics to individual marketers.
Once you have a reliable, integrated, and comprehensive analytics tool, you can get the most out of it. Measure everything you can possibly measure. Believe us, as a data-driven marketing team, we know there really is no shortage of metrics to track. Just check out this introductory marketing analysis e-book for some great ideas to get started.
The best way to divide up the measurement work is to hold individual members (or teams if your marketing department is on the bigger side) accountable for certain metrics. Identify the most important metrics by which you measure the success of each individual marketing channel and prioritize them according to importance.
Then assign tracking and management of these metrics to individual team members. For example, you can assign your social media manager / team to do the job, high-priority metrics like customers, leads and visits that are all generated from social media, as well as the same metrics segmented by individual social networks, and more monitor granular metrics such as engagement per social network (think of “likes”, comments, shares, etc.).
Not only does this ensure that you have all the key metrics covered, but it also makes your teams responsible for making sure you track and report them on a regular basis.
3. Set up data benchmarks.
What are your company’s typical email click-through rates? How many “likes” do you usually get on a single Facebook post? What is your average landing page conversion rate? By setting benchmarks, not only can you understand your company’s marketing “norms”, but you can also establish a standard that you can work towards to gradually meet and exceed them. Setting benchmarks, however, is easier said than done. How should you know what “good” is?
There are several ways to achieve this:
- First, you could do some research to see if there are any established industry marketing benchmarks to compare against. This can give you a general idea of how others are doing in the industry and how you stack up in comparison.
- More likely, however, you will want to establish benchmarks that are specific to your company and industry. This is where your analysis comes in.
- Once you have had some time (say a few months) to marinate your analysis, you can begin to notice and record general patterns in the performance of your individual marketing metrics.
Use these as initial benchmarks and make sure that these benchmarks improve over time.
4. Set metric-driven goals.
After you’ve set some benchmarks for marketing your business, it’s time to set metric-driven goals. Each marketer (or team) in your marketing department should not only be responsible for tracking and reporting their key metrics, they should also be given specific goals to be achieved. Otherwise, how do you know if your marketing is doing well if you don’t know what “success” is? In other words, setting goals will help define the success of your marketing.
The goals you set for your marketers will depend on a number of factors, but should primarily be based on the overall goals of your business. This will likely include a meeting with your company’s management team to determine your company’s growth prospects so you understand how marketing fits into that bigger picture.
For example, if your company wants 5% sales growth in the following quarter, you need to figure out how many leads you need to generate to get 5% more customers or sales. Based on this overall goal, you can then start assigning individual team goals based on the benchmarks of those marketing channels. In other words, knowing that your email marketing typically contributes 20% of your company’s total new leads and your blog 10%, logically you would assign a larger overall lead target to your email marketing team as your blogging team.
Download our free calculator to determine your monthly traffic and lead goals.
5. Report regularly on progress towards the goals.
Don’t just set and forget your goals. Make it a priority for individual marketers to base their strategies and tactics on the monthly goals they need to achieve by regularly reporting on their progress. Do you hold weekly and monthly marketing meetings?
At HubSpot, we report on the progress of our key marketing metrics (like traffic, leads, and the status of our marketing SLA) at our weekly team meetings. Tracking traffic and leads is easy in HubSpot software. All you need to do is enter your lead generation goal to easily keep track of the number of leads you are generating per day, week, month or year.
We also have longer monthly meetings where every single team reports on their month-to-month progress and more niche metrics like email unsubscription rate, social media reach, or blog subscriber growth.
In addition to reporting these metrics to your marketing team, share a monthly marketing report that highlights the results of individual teams – and the entire marketing department – with the rest of your business. That way, not only will your team be blamed for being data-driven (you want these metrics to look good, right?), But it’ll also prove to the rest of the company that marketing goes far beyond the stereotypical party planning and art and tinker all day.
6. Back up marketing decisions with data.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you refer back to the table at the beginning of this post, it’s a little less surprising. While you collect all of this marketing data, you actually need to do something with it. In other words, to truly be a data-driven marketer, you can’t just collect the data and report on it. You actually need to use this data to make your marketing decisions. This requires that you improve your analytical skills. It requires critical thinking and problem solving.
For example, let’s say you’ve been doing social media marketing for several months because you thought you had to. But now that you are actually tracking your social media marketing success with your marketing analytics tool, you are realizing that there are certain social media channels that just don’t work for you. You may have spent the same amount of time on Facebook and Pinterest, but your analysis shows you that Facebook has 5 times the ROI of Pinterest. Wouldn’t it make sense for you to redistribute some (or all) of the time you invest in Pinterest to Facebook? By using data to secure your marketing decisions, you not only make smarter decisions, but also improve your marketing results!
Learn how to think more analytically by reading nine great ways you can make your marketing analytics actionable in this post.
7. Find ways to measure “unmeasurable” things.
Truly data-driven marketers are finding ways to measure things that seem “unmeasurable”. For example, one of the teams in HubSpot’s marketing department is the editorial team, who is responsible for the branding of HubSpot. And you can imagine that measuring branding isn’t as easy as measuring social media leads or email marketing click-through rate, right? But that doesn’t mean that our editorial team is exempt from analysis. So you measure things like direct traffic to the HubSpot website and the volume of search terms.
Additionally, one of the challenges facing our product marketing team is making sure employees recognize that HubSpot is selling software. In other words, they need to find out how people perceive HubSpot. Not an easy task. As you can imagine, you cannot simply use a dashboard to measure the progress towards this goal. Therefore, they carry out short multiple-choice surveys of our target group, which are placed on various thank you pages for our non-software marketing offers such as e-books and webinars. In this survey, respondents are only asked to choose what HubSpot does. Their goal is to increase the number of people who choose “software” compared to other things like “services” or “marketing content”.
8. Reward record achievements.
One of the best ways to engage your marketing team in a data-driven culture is to incentivize them. Consider giving a monthly award to the member of your marketing team who has the most impressive record results based on their specific metric-driven goals. For example, within the HubSpot marketing team, we identify a marketing “champion” each month who can attend a champions dinner hosted by one of HubSpot’s executives and attended by other “champions” from other departments.
And don’t stop promoting those record breaking achievements with concrete rewards. Also, publicly recognize them in front of the entire company. Sometimes the most rewarding incentive for your employees is public recognition of their hard work. You should also keep track of employees’ individual metrics and include them in your annual review process.
9. Use data in content creation.
The benefits of data in marketing don’t have to be limited to your marketing analytics or making better marketing decisions. Data can also be used in your marketing in various other ways, such as: B. To improve your marketing content, including blog posts, e-books and other written collateral. Indeed, including small data can go a long way in making your content higher quality, more believable, authoritative, and interesting. Just make sure you select trusted data and properly associate it with the original sources.
There are a few ways you can spice up your marketing content with data. Some techniques include demonstrating change / consistency over time, providing benchmarks, showing connections / correlations, proving a point, highlighting why readers should care, backing up opinions, showing discrepancies including social evidence, showing success, offering clarity, showing scalability, and highlighting original data and visualizing data. To learn more about how to use these techniques above, check out our comprehensive post on Using Data in Your Marketing Content.
10. Use A / B testing.
The most accomplished data-driven marketers are always on the hunt for better data and better analysis of the metrics for which they are responsible. And what’s one of the best ways to make your data look better? Optimize Your Marketing With A / B Testing, That’s What!
With A / B testing, you can experiment with how different variables affect traffic, click-through rates, and conversion rates, and optimize your marketing efforts using the variables that contribute to the best results. Fortunately, there is no shortage of variables to test in your marketing, and you can A / B testing virtually any of your marketing assets as well. Check out our full A / B testing eBook to get started.
11. Share data-driven research with the rest of your team and company.
If you do all of the A / B testing we recommended in our last tip, you will likely come off these tests with a number of great insights into what works for your business – and what doesn’t and its audience. Don’t hoard this data … share it!
At least the rest of the members of your marketing team could probably really benefit from the lessons learned. It will make them better marketers and will likely also teach them a thing or two about how your prospects react to different marketing tactics. Encourage members of your marketing team to learn lessons from specific A / B tests they conducted during your weekly marketing meetings so that everyone can benefit.
The rest of your company – including departments outside of marketing – may also appreciate this insight into your marketing hours.
At HubSpot, we have a popular in-house wiki that the marketing team often uses to share the results and lessons of their A / B testing with the rest of the company. Marketing members also regularly present themselves at meetings in other departments to share valuable marketing insights.
Not only is sharing these results educational, but it also shows them that the marketing department isn’t just sitting on our bums and responding to hints! Marketing regularly tests its tactics and reacts to proven data to make its decisions.
This is sure to boost the R-E-S-P-E-C-T of your marketing team and likely even add to more marketing buy-in. And who doesn’t want that?
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2012 and has been updated for completeness.