Marketing Analysis: In-House Marketing vs Agency vs Consultant

Marketing is all about arguments where several opinions evolve and eventually disagree. One of the highest debates is the difference between in-house marketing vs agency. While marketing revolves around theoretical and practical ideas, the role of marketing within the organization is becoming the most striking trend about marketing in the present time.

According to research published by MarketingWeek, only 8% of brands are ‘very satisfied’ with their agency partners and more brands are considering taking activities in-house. Eventually, stats from Harvard Business Review, shows that Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) have the shortest lifespan in the C-Suite. In addition, the issue with in-house marketing is not limited to senior marketing managers, stats from the LinkedIn analysis shows that marketing roles had the highest turnover rate with 17% comparing other functions.

In nutshell, whether the marketing is in-house or outsourced the issue remains the same. Decision-makers are considering marketing as the most unstable department in most organizations.

Analyzing the Problem

In the 15 years, I’ve spent in the marketing industry between full-time jobs and consulting, business owners are always questioning: “Should I hire an in-house marketing team or get an agency?”. In-house marketing vs agency is not just a regular business decision; it is an existential question for business owners.

In one gloomy day at the office in Singapore, the CEO finished a long meeting with our marketing team by shooting the question: “Who can we trust?”. At this moment we had reached the point that he doesn’t believe in the in-house team. At that time, he was afraid that agencies wouldn’t give him what he is looking for. I voluntarily answered him: “trust no one”. Yeah, he got it and a few months later he fired the marketing team and a few months later he stepped down as CEO.

Either way, we agreed that the trust level in marketers is falling down. The marketing and Ad technology didn’t provide a spike in the trust level, in fact, it made everything worse for senior marketing managers. The more the C-Suite are able to see the flood of numbers arriving from MarTech tools, the more they expand their abilities in spotting issues. Therefore, managing marketing remains a myth in most businesses and the question is getting extremely complex.

My aim here is not to convince you what works better. Remember that my motto is “Trust no one”. Let’s start by elaborating on some key pain points. I receive three types of business inquiries as a marketing consultant which can help us in analyzing the case.

1) Companies that are disappointed by their agency or tried several agencies with no effective results.

2) Companies that have an issue with their in-house marketing capabilities or willing to expand their in-house team.

3) Startups who have limited resources to hire an agency or in-house team and wondering what to do.

Attending several meetings and workshops with business managers and senior marketing management, made me realize that in-house marketing vs agency discussion is brutal. On the table there are few ideas:

  1. What is the best option that fits with our business model, budget and resources?
  2. What is the best option that is cost-effective and easy to integrate?
  3. What is the best option for the short-term and long-term?

It is all business decisions, but it is not fully accurate when it comes to marketing playground as there are few tricks and bumps along the way. Marketing is very dynamic due to the ongoing changes in consumer behavior, competition, and technology. What fits your business now might be problematic when you try to scale your business or open new markets. What is costly now can be cheaper with ongoing updates in MarTech and marketing automation.

The First Rule of the Selection Process

So, as an independent consultant, I had to listen carefully and analyze the requirement with one objective strategy in my mind. The only rule you need to keep in mind is what I learned from my conversion with my ex CEO, there is no perfect choice or fully trustworthy.

The only criteria of the choice are all about the business’s ability to manage marketing. It totally managerial decision about what do you poses and your capacity to manage marketing as a business function. Establishing successful marketing starts with the company’s ability to manage and control the expectations.

In-house Marketing vs Agency Comparison

After setting the main rule of establishing marketing, we come to an important part about the comparison of in-house marketing vs agency. After a constructive discussion with my fellow marketing expert JK Baseer, we concluded the main factors you will need in the comparison and what is the pros and cons of each option.

Factor In-House Agency
Accessibility Accessing the market is relatively slow with the in-house team. Building a team requires time to hire a team and to acquire marketing experiences in the target market. Faster access to the market due to the availability of local market and knowledge, tactics and consumer habits. The agency’s expertise allows faster access to the market and target consumers.
Adaptability The in-house team is internal which allows a high level of adaptability and ability to rearrange tasks priorities, higher control and faster implementation of strategic adjustment and marketing budget allocation.    Agencies can be much slower to adopt depending on their workload, priorities and internal process. Additionally, the agency is interested in increasing marketing spend. However, the agency can have a valuable perspective of the strategy optimization.
Reliability Reliability in managing the team, monitoring the quality, and controlling the projects from start to finish. Limited control in terms of process and difficulty in tracking and monitoring the quality.
Connectivity The In-house team is able to communicate with all stakeholders within the organization and have a major ability to access data, analyze, and align responsively.Tasks and projects coordination could be complex due to communication barriers. In addition, the agency is required to do extra efforts to reach different stakeholders and to access data.
Flexibility The In-house marketing team can adjust their skills to manage the required tasks and manage pressures. The team can expand or scale down based on the company’s needs and financial situation. The agency is handling several clients and you may have to wait for your turn. In some cases, the agency can provide flexibility in terms of fees and resources reallocation.
Pool of Talents It is rare to find talents who are experienced with all aspects and tools of digital marketing to cover all the marketing needs. Acquiring a successful marketing team requires experienced marketing recruiters and most importantly time.    Agencies work with several clients and they have more skilled individuals on hand. Their talents are diversified and covers wide areas of marketing channels, technology and as well as external resources.
Orientation In-house marketers are paid to live and breathe your brand, product, and industry. The agencies have their own business objectives, technology partners, structure and profitability targets.
Investment The in-house team is relatively considered as a long-term investment. In some cases, sustainability in the long-term could be one of the top issues.

This comparison of in-house vs marketing agencies illustrates the main differences. In contrast, it is important to explore the third path which consists of in-house marketing and digital agencies together.

Hybrid Marketing Team

The hybrid marketing team is considered a highly effective solution. Eventually, this solution is inherited by most of the top brands and big business firms. The main advantage of hybrid marketing is the ability to organize the workflow more effectively and control the results efficiently. Moreover, the in-house marketing team is given the ability to focus on the big picture or tasks they do best while you extract specific channels and researchers to specialized digital agencies.

The main disadvantage of the hybrid marketing team in some cases it is highly expensive which is suitable for big firms. In addition, you are still not protected from all the issues of the agency’s reliability and adaptability. While the hybrid solution could be customized based on the business objectives and budget in some cases, there is substantial heavy work to sustain it.

After exploring the different solutions, it is critical to understand more in-depth the dynamics and science behind managing the marketing outcomes.

How to Measure the Outcomes?

When it comes to the learning outcomes, in-house marketing and hybrid are certainly the best option to inherit. The organization must acquire the knowledge of how to communicate with the consumer. The core function of marketing knowledge is bigger than just data, market insights, and marketing academic disciplines. Marketing knowledge is about gaining accumulated information and increasing overall business performance.

Basically, the fatal mistake for some businesses is that they limited themselves and isolated the marketing knowledge inside the in-house marketing department or digital agencies. Marketing knowledge has a direct impact on all the business functions from improving the product to opening new markets at a lower cost to increasing awareness which has a direct impact on customer support. Building business decisions cannot be extracted just from campaign data and monthly reports of marketing ROI.

Over the years, I developed a high sense of how the company integrates its marketing within the organization. Successful companies tend to create highly effective communications and integrations between departments. I also tend to measure the success of the companies with how much information they have about the customer. Eventually, everyone overuses the term “customer-centric”, yet only so few companies are ahead of the game and managed to get closer to their customers.

Therefore, the management of marketing extremely complex and more intense than monitoring the performance. Fundamentally, I believe there are four major areas to measure the marketing outcomes beyond just the term “marketing performance”.

Areas Description Metrics
Marketing Capabilities The marketing contribution to the organization Impact percentage on Product development, Operation, IT, Customer support, HR, R&D
Marketing Process The efficiency of marketing as a functionInternal marketing process (Marketing cost, Productivity, Technology, KPIs)
Marketing Performance The marketing output comparing marketing strategy objectives Measuring the cost per Channel, Leads, Sales, Acquisition, Retention and CLV
Marketing Investment The marketing status comparing investment objective The overall impact on Business Finance and ROI

Take a moment and start to reconsider the whole picture and measure the advantages and disadvantages of in-house marketing vs agency comparison. Marketing has different sides and you cannot limit it to one dashboard of the marketing department which visualizes the cost per acquisition. It is important to measure marketing outcomes as part of the organization’s picture. Now, back to our question: Which can deliver a better impact on the organization? Agency vs In-House?

Rebuild your objectives and expectations based on the four key areas before you make the decision. You will need an internal marketing expert of marketing consultation that can help in setting the measurement in place. 

How to Calculate the Cost?

Some would consider that a growing in-house marketing team is more expensive than hiring an agency. You would need to pay full-time salaries, buy the tools, pay for training, and the risk of a long-time process. While an agency contract is a negotiable and less headache in terms of skillset and tools. That’s a mistake since agencies are not generous by any meaning. The agency will give you as much as you pay. They can put heavy pressure on their teams to deliver but at the end of the day, they are looking for more profit out of your account. However, finding a good agency or establishing a hybrid is considered a painful process and costly.

Agency cost formula: Cost of agency recruiting process + Time spent + Agency fees + Ad and media spending commission + Marketing tools + Communication and project management
In-House cost formula: Cost of recruiting process + In-House costs (spaces and equipment) + Time spent + Full time salaries + Marketing tools + Training

In-house teams are certainly expensive the same as agencies. Several agencies argue that they are saving the cost of marketing ad tech tools, but this is not true. Top platforms and AdTech require new licenses that you are going to pay for. Most importantly, the top marketing agencies are already partners with the technology providers, and they are highly interested in selling you to their technology providers at a good rate. Keep in mind that the price difference can be massive sometimes for some platforms such as Google 360, Adobe Marketing Cloud, etc.

Fundamentally, the solution is not to conduct a basic comparison of prices but to measure the ROI of each investment. For instance, investing in a marketing platform is better with an in-house team because you are able to embrace this technology and dominate the knowledge of your marketing automation process.

Independent Marketing Consultant vs. Agency or In-house

The marketing function is not limited to generating leads and revenue. At a fundamental level, marketing has a great role in learning customer behavior and the market. If you don’t have an internal marketing professional or marketing consultant, you are potentially exposed to several blind spots in the decision-making process.

Hiring an independent marketing expert is a common option for many Tech and SaaS firms during transformation and strategic evaluation. A marketing consultant role exceeds the auditing and transformation tasks and enables businesses to have an extensive outside perspective.

  • The consultant enables the decision-makers to have a trusted advisor who is able to provide unique perspectives, increase the senior management ability of analysis, and continuously train and educate the internal marketing team.
  • Professional digital marketing consultants who worked with several agencies in the past can help effectively in the process of shortlisting and hiring an agency and more importantly in developing the framework and managing the expectations.
  • The independent consultant works according to the decision-makers’ agenda and helps in connecting the dots and analyzing the gaps in the performance.
  • Working directly with a marketing consultant is a more reliable and cost-effective solution than hiring relying on the agency to do all the consulting work.
  • A consultant can effectively help in analyzing the marketing strategy and develop the required reporting system and KPIs in order to control the outcomes of internal teams or digital agencies according to business objectives.
  • Independent marketing consultants have the freedom to analyze independently, they are expected to align with the organization structure and follow the same workflow such as internal employees.
  • An Independent marketing consultant has comprehensive experience than marketing generalists in the job market. Consultants have dominated the experience of the market and work with multiple companies and projects. They are exposed to different marketing strategies, MarTech tools, budgeting methods.
  • The marketing consulting model is more flexible to negotiate and contract, unlike hiring multiple internal and external resources.

In summary, the debates about in-house marketing vs agency could be justified to the basic rule of how you can manage the options on short and long-terms. Eventually, marketing consulting professionals can provide a major assist in controlling the marketing spend and help in selecting the right approach. The consultant key expertise is not limited to setting up the marketing strategy only, but it is essential in analyzing the company’s needs, budget and monitoring the performance of the agency or in-house team. The main value of consulting is having an advisor on your side of the table who can answer business questions and help with the investment allocation.

How to Do Marketing During The Coronavirus Crisis?

Marketing is a sensitive phenomena affected by what is going on in the world. Marketers have been positioned always at the frontline of every change or trend going in the market. We can call this process as the breath of bread the marketers have to experience in their morning and start preparing for it with questions such as what is going in the market? What is the new trend our consumer is following? And how we can respond?

Fundamentally, while marketing is highly sensitive to trends, in the times of Coronavirus pandemic, global lockdown, and economic recession, the marketing is officially going to war!

Let me first say that this article is not going to discuss the common trending tactics of how to show solidarity and how to support health care workers or how to raise awareness about social distancing. There are tons of articles full of tips and guidelines on how to adapt a responsive branding campaign during the time of the epidemic. This article is about what you should do with your marketing strategy in the short and long-term.

Key learnings from the Pandemic and Lockdown

Firstly, let’s extract the main factors we are facing during this exceptional time of our lives. Considering that we have never been in such situation and so few marketers from the 2008 crisis are still around, while most of the marketing team are probably younger. Even though the crisis now is bigger and more drastic then anyone has ever had and there were such no major lockdowns we have faced before. Yet, there are few key insights which we have to consider:

  1. The Internet is everything now: With the lockdown, the internet is becoming our life. People are relying on the Internet more than ever. Major amount companies are asking people to work from home, meetings are online, restaurants are only open online, universities and schools are only available online, and our consumption of entertainment is mainly online. We have been doing this before optionally, but now it is mandatory.
  2. The consumer is trapped: There is no more luxury of going to malls, fairs, and stores. There is uncertainty about how we will go to our regular life. All the takes now are about “flattening the curve” to control the virus’s new infection but there is no sign about how this is going to end. Obviously, if the lockdowns are release, people will still be conservative in their moves for a while. Online shopping will remain strong for months to come.
  3. People will get bored: Few days in the lockdown and people are suffering already. They have a big appetite for things to watch, browse and read. While watching the news is their top priority at the moment, their time is full of long hours to surf and read. They saved the time of traveling, commuting to work and social gathering. They have now a lot of time to read and watch online more than they ever did before.
  4. There is an urge: Currently, there is a strong urge to food and supplies. Gradually the urge will move towards many other things and it will rise based on the post-pandemic changes. The world is going to change for a while, and we are going to have a very hot summer full of new urges. Imagine if the borders are open finally and people allowed to travel safely then you can think of all the locked-down people around the world wanting to have a vacation. The most suffering industries such as travel and hospitality will flourish like never before. We all believe that there will be a recession but there will be an urge. How and where it is going to affect the most, we will get to see signs after signs, and it is better to be ready.
  5. Marketing hesitation: There is a decline in Chinese ad spend this year due to the outbreak of the virus according to a report by Dentsu Aegis Network. Moreover, Econsultancy predicted that highly impacted countries will witness a decline in ad spend. The impact is not going to trigger a big decline in advertising spend and market budgets, there are several hesitations about campaign creativity and marketing channels. Notably, a new study by Pattern89 showed that imagery of human interaction declines by 27.4% in social ads due to the social distancing trend. Creativity is shifting and the pandemic controlling the way brands interact with consumers. We are in a crucial time for marketers and there is a huge uncertainty sense taking over.

What marketers should do during the crisis?

Eventually, the biggest lesson we should learn and act upon is to change. Marketers are like investors, and in the darkest times, there should be a change and radical decision to adopt. Remember that marketing at the frontlines of the battle and they should not just align but also to lead part of the change.

1. Change in the marketing strategy

The marketing strategy should be customized, and radical changes should be inherited. Today’s data is going to show different insights, predictions analysis is not going to be accurate, the consumer behavior is evolving, and a new strategy is required. Companies who hesitate in taking swift changes will suffer the most.

2. Rebuild the relationship with the customer

While the consumer is currently worried about their lives than what you are offering, it is time to show your brand story instead of aggressive advertising and acquisition tactics. People are online now more than ever and reaching them should not be limited to “stay safe” messages only. Think about reintroducing your brand and product through a story. Think of entertaining context you can come up with and more insightful content instead of your aggressive sales offer you flooded their inbox within the last year. Localize and personalize your approach and make the right connection away from KPIs pressures.

3. Change your attitude and think outside the fridge

Everyone during the quarantine is regularly visiting the fridge. It is not time to showcase your overly optimized marketing messages in the website headers. It is important to do some copywriting work and reshape your main messages to show more about who you are instead of what you need. The consumer is now at the phase of extensive reading with more time in hand. Fill that void with informative storytelling. In other words, it is time to strengthen the brand instead of aggressively promoting your product. Search for creative ideas and take bold actions in your marketing approach.

Example: Outdoor advertisement created by Miami Ad School, Thailand for Netflix. They designed an outstanding outdoor campaign for those who don’t stay at home during the quarantine. The campaign included spoilers of its top series.

4. Improve your marketing quality

It is better to overlook all the crappy processes, channels, and ad campaigns and revamp the marketing plan. The competition landscape is going to change slowly during the current phase, but the change will be super aggressive later on. A few months from now the recession will create a highly competitive ground for all types of businesses. You can witness right now how the competition is accelerating in some industries such as online grocery apps and streaming. Therefore, the budget and ad spend are not going to be the only topic on the table of senior management, but how we can respond fast to changes and stand out. The quality of the marketing activities is the right investment at the times of the Coronavirus crisis. Stand out creatively with quality and unique ideas.

Example: Great approach for Google Ads with a terrific storytelling idea.

Finally, there are many worries about our lives and the future right now. Eventually, during the storm marketers are working from home thinking of many questions such as the future of their jobs and the financial situation of their companies. With every storm, there will be seeds carried to grow new plants. Learning and adapting are important in these times and marketing is eventually one of the things that will witness a lot of changes such as our lives. It is better to focus on improving the quality of what we do than hesitating about how the numbers are falling down on the charts.

How a Marketing Analytics Consultant Can Solve Your Business Problems

In a data-first world, the marketing analytics is now becoming the process of connecting marketing function with the business intelligence. The demand for specialized marketing analytics consultant is becoming essential to bridge the gaps in marketing data and to extract business insights.

The main question in every business -from a small start-up to a well-established organization- will always be: Do we get the most accurate informed-decision/actions our of our data?

Reality scenarios:

  • The market research is telling you that the region you are targeting is highly profitable. All figures and surveys are providing very positive indications. You launched a campaign for few months but the campaign results are very poor. Where do you need to search for the problem? The common conclusions are: The market research is not accurate, the product offering is not competitive enough, the brand is new in the market and you need to allocate more budget for awareness. Any or all of this could be the reason but how you can get sure which one has the biggest impact?
  • You hired the best creative team or agency which provide you with great visuals and UX. Yet, the conversion is still low and you are you are losing a lot of money on advertising. How can you indicate the problem? Is it the creatives you need to change or the performance team that is not managing the budget allocation properly?
  • Your sales team are commonly reporting that the marketing team is not driving quality leads while your marketing team is telling that the sales department are not performing effectively. How can you find out which team of the two is underperforming?
  • You have so many analytic tools and each one of them has its reports. You are not sure how to combine and simplify all this amount of data and report the right insights to your management. All this data is still not getting you anywhere when your CEO asks about the actions required to increase ROI.

marketing analytics metrics consulting yasser ahamd

With all these issues a business can either go wrong and lose money or define the problem, raise flags and take an effective decision. Holding many meetings and listening to different opinions from the team is not what companies need to survive in such evolving situations. Numbers, technology, market trends and consumer habits are changing and you have to move faster.

How can a marketing analytics consultant shift the way you are looking at your data?

Bringing data to the core of your decision-making process doesn’t only require technology and advanced automation platforms. A tool can give you the real-time figures but creating a relation between data and extracting an action is the biggest problem for any organization.

One of the major challenges CMOs face: finding professionals who can not just analyze data but most importantly to extract the critical insights. Data analysts are qualified to analyze the data but the marketing teams are always in need of a consultant with experience in both analytics and marketing strategy. Here I would love to share some of the main functions of the marketing analytics consultants and how it can help the stakeholders to solve business problems.

Function #1: Building an effective marketing analytics strategy

Starting with the strategy, consultants can always organize the marketing analytics process by building an effective strategy based on their findings. Establishing a custom analytics plan would provide efficient outcomes and controllable workflow.

  • Research the data sources and define what the marketing need to design a more effective process to collect, analyze and extract insights and patterns.
  • Evaluate all structured and unstructured data sources and define what is the best Martech and analytic platforms required
  • Identify the gaps in the digital marketing strategy and areas for improvement
  • Develop a marketing analytics strategy based on the business objectives
  • Establish a best practice approach for reporting and insights from your analytics

Tip: Google analytics reports and Facebook insights are not customize designed tools that are built to answer questions. Each business shouldn’t rely on extracting the built-in reports and develop his own customized insights. The process of reporting should start with a business question such as; how we are improving our ROI? The reports are meant to provide answers and indications and not just metrics. 

For more information about marketing analytics strategy, read the article: 5 Effective Tactics for Marketing Analytics Strategy.

Function #2: Marketing analytics consultant can fix the gaps in your data insights

Are you collecting the data you need at right timeframe and at the right volume? Getting overwhelmed with the vast amount of data availability is a mistake.

It doesn’t matter if you have access to all data sources, while it matters the most to have an effective scope. A professional marketing analytics consultant can help you to build the right strategy where data are meant to answer the business questions. Finding the metrics which define the action is a process where you a consultant can help to connect the dots. The analytics consultant can cover the following functions:

  • Analyze all the reports and indicate the gaps in the data (metrics required, data correlations, dashboard structure, reporting automation process, and timeframes)
  • Set the business objectives for reports (consumer behavior metrics, brand awareness metrics, performance metrics, transactional and ROI metrics)
  • Apply the analytical models required for client lifetime value, retention and forecasting
  • Help the team to extract and create stories using the data visualization and deliver a high level of relevancy
  • Determine the most effective marketing strategies and defining the performance gaps which can help in managing the marketing budget more efficiently

Tip: Insights are more important than data. Choose a professional consultant who can help you to stop chasing all the metrics and organize your reports.

Function #3: Marketing analytics consultant is an outside eye

There are several issues in organizations that prevent management from solving problems. Among the top issues are the common one; themselves. In many business cases, the way the senior management identifying the is the problems is not accurate and that’s why they need an outside eye (different perspective).

  • Consultants often work with many different companies and may have faced the same problem you are struggling with in the past and tested multiple solutions for it. They can provide a perspective based on what they’ve experienced and provided more insights into what is working and what is not.
  • An analytics consultant can bring in a more innovative solution and marketing technology ideas and advice which is suitable for your business which can save can cut the cost for budget and the resources required to implement a change in the department.
  • The consultants’ task is to define the gaps and highlight the performance issues which can resolve the conflicts between internal teams. This can solve several issues between different team members and defining the most relevant KPI. Understanding not just the performance of the channels but also the performance of the team members and roles.
  • A professional consultant can help you to understand the critical gaps in your marketing performance and raise the flags for urgent matters as well as drawing attention to milestone wins.

Tip: Each organization might be full of certain rules and policies that can prevent internal teams from implementing major changes. An outside expert can help you to push the change and implement new tactics in a shorter timeframe. 

Function #4: Covering the knowledge gap for your team

One of the key roles for marketing analytics consultant is to cover your team’s knowledge. The consultant can save you time and budget required for an extensive amount of training or additional full-time talents by training your team and providing the right approach for data analytics.

  • A professional marketing analytics consultant can help to structure your marketing team and identifying the knowledge and resources required. In some cases, a consultant can help you to avoid new hiring by implementing automation tools or delivering a sufficient analysis on regular basis.
  • The team can benefit from the consultant experience and enhance their skills as well as avoiding longer time in technical troubleshooting and research.

marketing analytics consulting

In conclusion: CMOs say just 42% of marketing decisions are made using analytics. Eventually, CMOs still report that they are still struggling with analytics. While the marketing technology and cloud solutions are providing advanced capabilities in combining offline and online data, the lack of talents who are experienced in both data analytics and marketing is a challenge.

A specialized consultant who has the knowledge of data analytics tactics and marketing initiatives can drive the marketing department towards the business goals. Putting all the wide collection of data (media, paid advertising, organic, social media, digital marketing, mobile marketing, customer relationship management and email marketing) into an insightful pattern can shift any business into a real customer-centric company.

5 Effective Tactics for Marketing Analytics Strategy

From a business manager’s perspective, successful results are achievable if a common objective and key performances are made clear across the organization. Marketing data analytics is one of the core competencies for data-influenced companies and play an effective role in connecting business objectives with consumer behavior’s data.

The main purpose of organizations to create a marketing analytics strategy is all about how to drive smarter questions, which will elicit thoughtful answers using the accessible data. Unfortunately, many stakeholders still tend to see marketing analytics as a way to measure the spending and marketing performance. That’s considered as a limit view of the data analytics capabilities.

The marketing analytics strategy main objective is to maximize the use of data to create a form of data-influenced actions that are aligned with the business objectives and effective on the long-term strategic advantage.

If I could highlight the most important fact about marketing analytics, I would definitely say that the best strategy to follow starts with a sharp focus on the objectives. To get a better understand, let’s start with some common situations.

Reality scenarios…

  • Businesses would say that they know their marketing objectives clearly, But Ehm!.. Not true.
    Once you investigate more with their situation, you will soon discover that those generic needs they have to be analyzed using the data.
  • Structured data and insights are not always ready and available. To build strategy you sometimes need to assist the company with their data aggregation and analytics.
  • Inside companies, the marketing departments are usually under the pressure of proving their performance results or struggling with 60 dense analytic charts and slides which is hard for senior management to understand a fraction of it.

When you are facing such realities, it is about time to start searching for a better understanding of the data role in your organization.

1. Understand the role of data analytics

First, we have to stat the fact that reports, slides, and charts generated by marketing analysts shouldn’t be for the sake of providing results. Results are not the key. When you are facing a gap in your performance, it is about time to start searching for a proper strategy which can help you to move from the phase of looking at results to the phase of understanding why these results are like this.

The toughest lesson I did learn about data that it is not just made of numbers and figures. If you don’t analyze the data properly, you will not be able to get an accurate action. In a data-driven world, a piece of metric can bring a major shift in your consumer journey if you are able to measure it in relation to another metric.

marketing analytics for companies

Describing the business objective as customer-centric doesn’t only require investing more money in product and customer relation while paying less attention to the real-time analytics. Marketing analytics is the playing an essential role in understanding the client behavior and interaction with the brand and the services provided.

Find out the objectives of your marketing analytics strategy and understand the role of it before you try to shift your business into data-influenced.

2. Set the effective KPIs and avoid the metrics delusion

The first questions, while you are navigating your metrics, should be: If I have a higher rate on this metric would it impact the business objectives? Does the higher engagement rate on social media increase the website conversion rate?

The metrics and dimensions should be selected based on the business objectives.

Marketing professionals should translate the business objectives into a set of effective KPIs. Each KPI should be based on a set of relevant metrics and data insights. You have to remember that chasing all metrics will always result in a huge waste of efforts and confusion in your daily or weekly tracking.

What’s the difference between a metric and KPI? KPIs are measurable values that are created by senior managers to achieve business objectives. Metrics are the moving status variables to track a specific business process.

All companies need to track profit is an essential KPI which might include website conversion, orders, monthly active users, and retention. Each KPI could have a strategic value for the organization such as market acquisition and CLV.

Eventually, the number of KPIs might increase from top to bottom when you set your marketing strategy. The CEO might have a set of KPIs which requires marketing to generate multiple additional KPIs. When those numbers grow bigger than your capacity and you find yourself experiencing data overload, then you will need to identify only the relevant metrics.

3. Define the target before you set the KPI

Targets are not easy to set, but once you do have a clear understanding of what are the indicators of success and failure, you will be able to identify your right targets.

Building an enhanced analysis for marketing is all about eliminating the irrelevant matters and focusing on the critical view. See the target clearly before you set a KPI.

By using the forecasting models, past performance, and competitive analysis the targets are easy to distinguish. Don’t set your KPIs without having preassigned targets. In any common situation, the stakeholders would always struggle with understanding the KPIs that doesn’t have a clear target. If you don’t have a target supported by figures, you will end up chasing the impossible.

marketing targets vs metrics

Remember that not all professionals will be happy with assigned targets. It is important to always use the analytics effectively to prove the accuracy of your target figures. Make sure you always assist your targets with industry benchmarks and forecasting indicators.

4. Organize an easy-to-read marketing dashboard

Your marketing dashboard is your home. It should be familiar (uncomplicated), tight and present your main needs. Build a dashboard that takes no longer than minutes to read and include the main KPIs you need to monitor. Use data visualization to illustrate the data correlation effectively.

Marketing dashboard should always have the following features:

  • All-In-One-Monitoring: The marketing dashboard should collect all the required analytics from data sources (GA, SM, SEO, CRM, Email Automation, Paid channels, PM system, Finance, etc.)
  • Visual KPIs Tracking: KPI tracking should be visualized with average rates over a periodical timeline.
  • Outlined Objectives: Define your top factors for tracking marketing activities (campaign tracking, channel tracking,  revenue tracking, engagement metrics, attribution modeling, etc.)
  • Set Data Deviations: Using 3 standard deviations to generate your rates. (According to researchers, 99.7 percent data distribution lie within three standard deviations).
  • Reliability and Accuracy: Your dashboard should have accurate clean data. Connect real-time data and reliable data connections to get an up-to-date view of your marketing activities.
  • Customization and flexibility: Adjust your dashboard according to your strategy and don’t use static settings for timelines and data validation.

marketing dashboard analytics consultant

Finally, you need always to be able to identify your performance top layer accurately and clearly. Marketing dashboard can help you to provide a transparent overview for the business stakeholders and clients and can decrease the amount used for reporting.

5. Get the managers involved with the context

If all the previous strategies fail, then I advise you to try this strategy. It is not an easy one because it’ll demand that you are truly expert in marketing analysis. You might think that senior management and client want data but that’s not accurate. They pretend that data is important for them but at the end, they are only looking at results. That’s how the business world works. 

Therefore, I believe you should focus on telling the story not showing the tables and relations. There are useful ways to get this done by adding some context to your dashboard and extracted reports. List a set of clarifications to the metrics such as: What influenced this metric? why these rates changed? what is the set of actions taken?

Learn how to tell a story instead of reporting data. This will require you to have an effective understanding of the organization and the client motivations. Avoid going outside the track and showing irrelevant metrics or you will lose your case at the first meeting. Remember that you will need few rounds to be able to play this game effectively and expand their knowledge about the analytics. Once they will see the relation “the context” they ask for actions. That’s the time for you to show the actions slides and win the meeting.

It is totally normal that business managers will be always doubting and pushing on the marketing to show more growth. The best approach for marketers is to always have their analytics clean, accurate and telling a story. Showing reports for the sake of flooding the table with many charts will always lead the marketing to an uncertain path while inserting context will lead managers to shift their focus from the numbers to the insights.

Conclusion: If you find yourself stuck with showing your performance in the proper way, try these strategies. If this doesn’t work then take a deep breath and try to understand where is the gap. Marketing analytics strategy is not straightforward practices and it will always require time, testing and flexibility in implementation. Work on each data source and fix your reports one by one. Give it a shout and remember that finding the insights is more important than the data. Finally, if your company is not a data-driven and data-influenced then I believe that you will change it with your tactics.

Please share your ideas and theories via comments or contact me for marketing analytics consulting.

Yasser Ahmad