These days, It’s not unusual for marketing executives to have a firm grasp of data & analytics. This is why I shouldn’t have been surprised when, in the middle of a conversation about e-commerce, our own Chief Creative Officer logged in to Google Analytics and proceeded to create custom, advanced segments like she was buttering toast.
Everyone loves a good “my work here is done” moment.
Indeed, the advancements we’ve seen in analytics have been monumental and fast. Just three years ago I would preface the topic of cross-device tracking with, “just play along with my crazy talk.” Now it’s a core capability of virtually every enterprise analytics platform.
According to the 2016 State of Marketing report published recently by Salesforce, roughly two-thirds of "high-performing marketing leaders” rate their ability to create personalized, omni-channel customer experiences as excellent or above average. Not coincidentally, the same report notes, over half of that same group are heading up customer experience initiatives across their respective enterprises.
Why is this noteworthy? Consider the hype we hear about content marketing. The excitement isn’t because the term is a new or emerging trend—it’s what marketing has always been. What has changed in recent years, both gradually and logically, is consumer choice and access.
Choice and access—small words with big implications. Every radical industry change that stems from there is just the information economy—marketing included—trying to right itself against this backdrop. In other words, it’s a big game of how content pays for itself. And in that game, “content marketing" has become a euphemism for something far more complicated: understanding your audience, what they want, when they want it and how they consume it.
Analytics platform vendors are speaking to this trend by stepping up their product game. Last March, Google’s $100K-per-year Analytics Premium product rebranded as Google Analytics 360, and a month previous Webtrends relaunched as Webtrends Infinity. Adobe, if it isn’t already tired of confusing the world with Omniture vs. Sitecatalyst vs. Adobe Analytics, may follow suit (at some point).
With that have come numerous point-solution products that complement enterprise analytics platforms in areas such as A/B and/or multivariate testing (e.g., Unbounce, Visual Website Optimizer), attribution (e.g., Convertro, Bizible), data visualization (e.g., Tableau, Domo), and mobile and app analytics (e.g., AppAnnie, Flurry) – to name just a few.
Think that a little GA code and tagging was all you needed on a website? The more robust analytics implementations out there include architectural audits, documented implementation and code-firing strategies, and data governance models among their chief project phases. It’s for these reasons, among others, that Google and Adobe have put so much development behind their tag manager programs.
Of course, not every brand’s website demands the technological or marketing budget required of such sophisticated implementations. Reasonable agency partners who offer any level of analytics services should be equipped to strike a balance between the Teslas vs. the Honda Civics of such scenarios. At a minimum, website projects should launch with a documented measurement plan. And large websites with limited budgets should at least tier their conversion and tagging requirements in a solution design reference (which can be accommodated in a well-organized spreadsheet).
At the end of the day, good marketing is about putting your best foot forward with confidence. In today’s rapidly advancing, tech-forward climate, where brands are forced to think about customer experience first, and take iterative measures to reach them, we all need to get in touch with our inner data nerd just a little more.