I’m writing more about the glaring mistakes I’m seeing in marketing data because of the overwhelming response to the first blog post on this topic, as well as ongoing issues I’m seeing with prospects and clients.
If you don’t do marketing for a living, you often have no idea what you’re looking for – or looking at, when presented with “marketing reports.”
And here’s the reality: marketing has gotten so complex, with such depth and breadth to what’s capable, that some marketing specialists themselves have lost track of what data is important. AND, if all they do is their singular job (posting on social media, creating content, doing SEO, or creating a website, as examples) they have no idea about the “big picture” and how their work fits in.
In my last blog post on this, I wrote about these three data mistakes and how to fix them:
- Relying on platform tools (like Facebook) for their reporting
- “Invented” dashboards and reports that obfuscate the data, instead of clarifying it
- Data that only compares the past month’s data to the month before
Here are MORE glaring data and measurement mistakes I see marketers and agencies making.
- Not tracking website traffic over time
For many businesses, the only way people know about you (unless you have a retail store/building) is through your website. Understanding your website traffic over time may be one of the most important things you can do to have your finger on the pulse of how your business is being seen and noticed by others.
The best way that I’ve found to do this is through Google Analytics. Yes, it misses some traffic and yes, you can see your traffic through WordPress. But Google Analytics was set up so long ago, and has seen so much growth and expansion over time, that I’ve found it’s the best tool for measuring general website traffic.
I’ve heard of agencies deflecting requests for Google Analytics. I do not know why they would do that – except that maybe they don’t understand the data themselves. My response is this: figure it out. That’s your job.
I’ve been relying on Google Analytics since it began, while I worked for a Fortune 500 company. We had teams reviewing the data, and we’d spend hours looking at it, sorting through it, analyzing what it meant, and testing. Only when you look at the data carefully, consistently, over time, can you see what’s really going on with your website and your business.
2) Not explaining what the data is, and what it means
It’s typical that when I talk to a company that’s currently using an agency, and I ask about the reporting, they say they get sent a monthly report. “What does the report say?” I ask. “I don’t know – they just send it to me,” is the usual response.
First, sending reports without explaining them to the client is lazy. It’s asking the client to do the work of understanding what the marketing is doing, and assumes the client knows what they’re looking for, and what they see. In most cases, this means the client is either uninformed or confused.
Often, when I see the reports themselves, they’re a mystery to me – and I do this for a living. I’ve seen graphs that have eight different colors, going in all sorts of directions, showing nothing but a spaghetti mix of lines (I used one as the illustration for this blog post).
I’ve seen tables of numbers (sometimes, green numbers are good and red numbers are bad). Some are big, some are small. And again, as a marketing professional, I have a tough time understanding what I’m looking at unless I take out my calculator and do some math.
Here’s my opinion on this: if someone can’t explain what the data and reporting means, clearly and concisely, then they don’t understand it themselves. Or, if they’re too lazy or “don’t have enough time” to explain the data, then how important is a client supposed to feel?
3) Looking at marketing as an end, not as a means to an end
This may be the worst mistake I see agencies make. I’ve seen marketing reports that are full of “vanity” metrics – the kind of metrics that are all about the platform itself. For instance, it might be Facebook Likes or the average time people watched a video. While audience measurement is important (it’s good to know that someone is viewing your marketing content), it doesn’t tell you anything about the success of your marketing. Marketing is a means to an end.
What’s the end? It’s sales or brand awareness, or company image. You’re either moving the boat forward or you’re just sitting in the water.
My favorite story is that of a large company where videos got lots of hits and shares and likes but no additional sales were made. The marketing team considered the video a hit and a win; senior management viewed it as a failure.
Marketing is a means to an end; a company invests in marketing to affect its growth, sales, and image.
So digital marketing isn’t just about the “doing” of the marketing – but the measurement afterwards to see “what you did.” Marketing is done to achieve a larger goal. Often, marketing teams and agencies forget this. Marketing is not done for its own sake; it’s an investment by the business or organization, for the business.
Do any of these issues resonate with you? Are you confused about marketing reports you’re getting? Please reach out to me and let’s talk. I’m happy to help you figure out what’s really going on.