How to cure your analytics paralysis

Ask anyone working in ad tech or marketing analytics these days what prospective customers consider to be the most difficult barrier to achieve -- adoption or success -- and you'll likely get a similar answer -- change is hard. Of course, this is true whether you are talking about marketing or moving to a new city.

How to cure your analytics paralysis

In the world of analytics, change doesn't simply refer to the decision to purchase or not purchase a new technology. It also often requires altering existing processes, workflows, and metrics. In other words, for some marketers the thought of implementing a new analytics strategy or augmenting existing processes sounds about as appealing as playing one-on-one with LeBron James.

Even when there is broad acknowledgement that current processes are flawed, unfortunately, making the necessary changes can incite a ton of stress for potential implications. This is particularly true when it comes to marketing attribution. Despite the fact that the industry has long since declared last-click to be a flawed and often an inaccurate approach to assigning conversion credits, many organizations continue to use it out of fear. Adopting new methodologies will rock the boat, require too much work to adopt, or take too long to get buy in from the broader organization. Each of these reasons warrants additional conversation. However, as demonstrated by a recent IBM study that found top-performing marketing organizations to be five times more likely to utilize marketing optimization and attribution technologies, businesses that continue to delay a move to more accurate and comprehensive analytics face serious risks of being left behind.

For those that are finally ready to take the leap, here are a few suggestions to get started.

Walk before you run

There's no escaping the fact that any modern attribution platform will return the best results when it has access to all of an organization's marketing data -- both online and offline. But for many companies that thought of collecting, organizing, and making data available for display, search, affiliate, social, mobile, direct mail, and the like, can feel overwhelming and derail the initiative before it gets off the ground. Instead of attempting to eat the entire pie with one bite, successful marketers pick one to three channels to get started, so they can begin to see initial results and get the marketing organization familiar with the new measurement process. Over the course of several weeks or months, the improved accuracy in data and refined reporting allow them to begin tackling additional channels.

Recruit cross-company involvement and support

One of the major impediments to success with any major initiative is not having support resources in place across the broader business. When implementing an attribution platform, this is typically a combination of the analytics, web, and IT teams, as well as a number of third-party partners that control or manage channel-specific data sources. Getting everyone on the same page from the onset and explaining how the project will impact and improve their specific roles will both enable you to take action more quickly and avoid unforeseen roadblocks midway through the project.

Articulate a vision, find vendors that buy in

As the saying goes, "garbage in, garbage out." When you're incorporating new analytics processes around your attribution platform, it's important to establish a two-way stream of communication across your entire team -- internal and external -- to ensure everyone has the necessary information to be successful. For example, if you are working with media partners to input campaign data and compare KPIs across channels, you should build in mechanisms to push out conversion insights so that each team can see what is and isn't working. The data may technically belong to you, but working effectively with partners means providing feedback and insight back to those executing the campaign so they can refine tactics and ultimately generate even better results.

John Wooden once said, "Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be." For marketers, change will never be convenient or easy. As with any big initiative taking a measured approach is both prudent and necessary, but don't let unfamiliarity become a barrier to improvement.

Paul Pellman is CEO of Adometry.

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