How Marketers Can Balance Analytics & Creativity (...And Still Prove ROI)

By Jenifer Kern, Vice President, Marketing on May. 3, 2016 View Comments

Digital Marketing Strategy TemplateMarketers are more obsessed with digital analytics than ever before. After all, we need to be. How else can we prove ROI and justify spend? We need data to prove the value of our programs and monitor what’s working and not working.

But have we marketers gotten too focused on data at the expense of our core creative and strategic marketing principles? My humble opinion is.... “Yes.” 

It's sad but I've seen senior marketers and CMOs all over getting pulled into analytics and data, while losing sight of the big picture purpose of Marketing. As Drucker himself so abtly said: “The aim of marketing is to understand your customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” Yes, we need analytics to understand our customer but then we must craft a differentiated product or service so attractive the buyer cannot refuse it (which requires creative branding, messaging, and content).

So how can we balance this strong need for analytics (left brain) with the more creative aspects of brand building, content creation, and innovative marketing strategies (right brain)?

My suggestion: Simplify your digital analytics strategy to the point that you only measure what matters – key metrics that drive engagement, conversion, customer need, and revenue/ROI

How does one ‘simplify analytics’?” you ask. “Isn’t that an oxymoron?”

Yes, and it’s the million-dollar question all marketers want answered. So here's an answer for you...check out this digital marketing template. That’s right, I’m a shameless life-long marketer pointing you to a landing page with a form! Behind the form is a downloadable template that will help you uncover the key metrics necessary to measure success against goals and prove results, if you’re really generating them.

If you're still suspicious and not willing to put your name on the form, that's okay, I get it. I’ll give you the cliff notes.

Here’s how it works: Instead of starting with your crazy hodgepodge of data, start with your marketing and business goals. In other words, list your digital marketing objectives and then work backwards into the metrics you need to track against them. On my team, we’re tracking:

  • MQLs and SQLs
  • Opportunity and pipeline velocity
  • Revenue contribution
  • Landing page (content) conversions
  • Email engagement
  • Events ROI
  • Website traffic
  • Other key metrics for our digital marketing and content programs

You may also want to include customer loyalty and brand metrics, but the most important aspect of this exercise is that you begin by articulating your top digital marketing objectives and include them in the marketing dashboard of your analytics platform. Then measure them frequently (weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually – you know, basically all the time) so you create a solid picture of your performance against them.

Now before the naysayers come out of the woodwork, let me say that this digital marketing strategy template is admittedly somewhat self-serving because my company created it. But it happened serendipitously. Our digital analytics consultants developed this tool in the process of helping a global client with their complex data challenges. They then asked my internal marketing team to package it up in a compelling format and take it to market to generate interest and new leads.

As we were working on it, my team realized we needed to complete the template ourselves! We were also drowning in data. And for the past two years, I’d been asking them to create and recreate reports with different metrics, endlessly pushing for new charts and graphs that would help us tell a better story. We were trying to get to ROI and customer journeys more efficiently, but instead we were left spinning our wheels. 

Now that we’ve completed the template, we have a clear picture of our goals and a simple way to measure and track our performance against them regularly. This has resulted in an effective way to consistently communicate our performance to the organization as well.

So there you have it, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And a very useful tool! Give it a try – what do you have to lose? 

And talk to me ... have you been able to achieve balance between marketing analytics and creative marketing strategies? How do you do it? Digital Analytics Worksheet

Posted in: Digital Marketing