There are a few things that never cease. The hands on a clock. The earth’s rotation. The ocean’s movement. Questions from my five-year-old…about everything.
This phenomenon exists in business as well. No matter what your industry is or how your role within your organization is defined, our business lives are made up of tiny little actions set in motion to accomplish a business objective. Every action has a result, every result brings insight, every insight directs a new action, and so on.
Simply put, this never-ending story is also known as job security for the analyst. It is also the reason every advertising/marketing agency should have a competent analytics staff. If put in practice, marketers will find that this cycle redefines the nature of a report. Instead of signaling the end of a campaign, analytics reporting should be considered the start of a new series of actions.
Here is a simple visual representation of this endless continuum:
Actions are taken to accomplish business objectives.
Impact on objectives are analyzed (i.e. did we accomplish our goal?)
Additional insights are gathered and inform course corrections and/or new actions.
For those looking to get this wheel in motion, you may rely on the following definitions, responsible parties and documentation/resources for each crucial component.
Definition: Your business goal quantified.
Responsible: Everyone, but especially the marketing lead/manager.
Document: A tenable marketing plan. This can be large or small, but it must articulate the business goal, what methods will be utilized to accomplish that goal and how it will be measured.
Definition: Tools and processes to determine success.
Resource: Depending upon your campaign, there are more tools available than we can count. For website activity, this is usually a tool like Google Analytics, but several various utilities may be relied upon to gather success metrics. From a human resources perspective, this operation is typically handled by the analyst role.
Document: An easy-to-read and translate reporting framework. For more information on this, view may notes on simple analytics reports and icebergs.
Definition: The translation of metrics to meaningful opportunities. Insights provide a clear indication of what impact previous actions had on objectives and deliver a coherent plan for improvement.
Resource: The analyst also provides insights in most cases, but this step requires a marketing mind that understands certain aspects of audience behavior, the integration of multiple tactics and disciplines, and the difference between cause and correlation. Due to these requirements, analysts may need assistance from a resources with copious amounts of marketing and business experience.
Document: Insights are often housed within the analytics report. However, they should be clearly spelled out and easy to understand. For this reason, they can be communicated separately within a document that is shared by the entire marketing team.
Definition: Tactics informed by insights to accomplish the business objectives.
Resource: Various subject matter experts are used here, but the resources required are dependent upon the tactics to be executed (i.e. creative staff, media buyers, social media administrators, public relations team members, etc.).
Document: Many times a specific action plan is utilized (sometimes in the form of a status grid or a marketing editorial calendar) to clearly state what actions will be taken, when, via what channels, and with what implications on budget. Marketing managers, analysts and those executing tactics should all play a part in creating and owning an insights-to-action grid.
Please never allow your analytics process to pause, halt or stop. Every supposed end, whether deemed a success or failure, is truly a fresh step with tremendous potential.