Imagine standing in your kitchen and seeing crates of supplies being carted in. Bags of fresh produce, jars of aromatic spices, coolers filled with delicious meats, all being piled into cabinets, counters, and refrigerators. At the end of the process, your pantry is completely filled with wonderful resources to make a meal. Now imagine yourself making and eating only boxed macaroni and cheese, because that’s all you know how to cook.
This is the exact situation that marketers and PR professionals find themselves facing on a daily basis, in companies large and small. We have no shortage of data. We have no shortage of tools. Look at all of the data you have access to. Web analytics. Salesforce automation data. CRM records. Marketing automation data. Media statistics. Customer service data. These are the raw ingredients that you have to whip up business success. We have no shortage of anything except the knowledge of how to take everything we have, this magnificent bounty, and turn it into something useful, something worth consuming, and so we continue to make unhealthy choices because we don’t know how to make better choices.
Consider what most of the tools and vendors in the marketplace give you. Most will give you more data, which is wonderful if you need more data, but unhelpful if you already have lots of data. A few tools do a reasonable job of rounding up the data and categorizing it, which is like having a nice, organized pantry. If your data is messy and all over the place, this is very helpful, much in the same way that cooking is easier when you know where your ingredients are. However, an organized pantry still isn’t a cooked meal.
The reason that no tool, no vendor, no system is doing anything more insightful with the data we all have is the same reason that no device exists that can cook us meals in our kitchens. As advanced as robotics are, as advanced as food preparation devices are, someone still has to cook the meals today if you want healthy, freshly-cooked meals. There is no system that can reproduce what a master chef can do. Likewise, as advanced as all of our advertising, PR, marketing, and sales tools are, someone still has to take the data and turn it into something actionable and useful. There is no substitute for having a knowledgeable human being interpreting the data, learning what it means, and deriving insights from it.
Here’s an example. Everyone who has Google Analytics properly configured should have access to multi-channel funnels, the system that allows you to see what marketing and PR channels are the last touch that results in conversion vs. what assists in a conversion but isn’t the last touch. Look at this chart of 10 different assisted conversion values. What does it say to you?
If you’re a professional marketing “chef”, this tells you that channels 4-7 convert better as assisted conversion channels than as last touches – that is, they are better at helping along a sale than they are at being the last thing a future customer does. What action can you conclude from this set of data? What recipes should you cook based on these ingredients?
In this case, our theory is that these 4 channels work better in assisting a sale rather than closing the deal. Our next logical step is to look at where they currently are in our marketing processes. Take the highest assisted/last touch ratio channel, #5, and move it earlier in the sales and marketing process. Let’s say it’s Twitter, for example’s sake. What should you do? Not just tweet more – look at the tweets that get people to your site vs. the hard sells, and increase the volume of attraction tweets (hey, check out our new blog post!) by 10% while decreasing the hard sells (register for our webinar!) by 10%. Now watch and see if the assisted/last touch ratio changes proportionally AND if the overall number of conversions increases, on the premise that the earlier you can get someone engaged, the greater a positive effect it will have on conversion.
This kind of insight is very difficult to build into tools, which is why you need great “chefs” in your marketing and PR “kitchen” to make the most of the data you already have.
<shameless plug> If you don’t currently have marketing and PR great chefs on staff, borrow ours by engaging SHIFT Communications. </shameless plug>
Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology