The other day I piloted a plane.
Not a real one, it was just a flight simulator. And the experience was exactly how I imagined it - complicated, complex, disorienting.
It takes years to learn to fly a plane. All the controls in the cockpit, all the protocols, all about the weather, runways, restrictions, communication.
Just like flying, my work as a marketing manager is a combination between human factors, a lot of work, team and technology.
You would probably argue: “what’s so hard about doing marketing?”. Well it’s not. But just like flying a plane, marketing involves several aspects that you need to take into consideration and external factors that you don’t always have control over.
Even if you’re a great pilot with years of experience behind, there still are things that could go wrong. In marketing these would be stuff like the response of the audience, the sociopolitical and economical factors or the competitors’ offer.
After three years at Around25 I’m not saying we’ve found the fastest or the best route to destination - a.k.a. the most appropriate marketing plan to reach our objectives. But we identified a couple of principles that we revisit every time we have doubts or struggles. Plus, we established a process (I call it a growth machine) that helps us move the needle little by little. I'm sharing a couple of takeaways from my experience.
Data: Break it down
There is a huge volume of data flowing from various sources and if you use it wisely these have the potential to leverage your business.
But at the same time, too much information can be confusing and overwhelming. Nowadays, getting the data is not such a big deal. Extracting the essential out of your data is the biggest challenge. Exactly like in my flight simulation experience. I didn’t learn what all the buttons and systems do. I only learned and used the one that I needed...and were relevant for me at that time.
So before starting any marketing action, you need to build an analytics process for your business. And everything starts with your company’s objectives. To generate real value, you must be certain that the analytics program is producing accurate, reliable insights.
And to produce those accurate, reliable insights, you must align your plan with the One Metric That Matters (OMTM). As Neil Patel put it, the OMTM is a single metric - the one that’s the most important for your business right now, a single number that you want the entire company to focus and improve on.
OMTM is key
What are you measuring as a company? The website conversion rate? The shopping cart conversions? The number of app users? If you are Reddit you probably wanna track the percentage of users who log in or the number of people who create subreddits. But if you're McDonald's, that won't do - your key metrics might not even have to do with digital marketing.
The One Metrics That Matters is usually determined by the business you’re in, its growth stage, your audience or... the aspect of your business that is most broken - meaning the place you need to channel your efforts towards.
I’m talking about business objectives because marketing is a support department and its role is to back up the company’s direction.
So, whatever your most important metric is, expect it to change. And expect that change to reveal the next chunk of data you need in order to build a better business faster.
There's no OMTM without data
Now that you know your company’s objective, you probably have a marketing question in mind as well so let’s move on.
The type of question you ask will determine:
- what data you need to track;
- the analytical tool you choose;
- the type of analysis you need to perform.
For example, when I initially joined the company I was asking myself “how are we going to measure the success of our marketing initiatives”. This year, what is on my mind is “How can I improve the website conversion rate?”
But I would say “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,”. Before you attempt to make radical changes to improve your conversion rate, identify which areas are converting well and then come up with solutions on how to improve the underperforming areas.
In case you don’t know what’s the right question to ask… it’s okay! Take a step back and start with something very broad. Go back to your business single and most important metrics and identify what insights would help you make better decisions.
Exclusive content for you:
Why You don't Get Funding for your Startup
Sales Tips for Startups
Do you know your toolbox?
I can’t even imagine marketing nowadays without analytics. And neither do most of the marketers. This shows why the pool of marketing analytics plugins, tools and dedicated software is now wider than ever.
Of course it’s great to have a choice, but we can’t really use all of these tools, can we? So you need to pick one or several analytics solutions and stick with them.
But how to decide which one is the best for you?
The question you asked yourself in the above mentioned process can help you narrow down your search and make the decision that will ultimately benefit your marketing efforts, your team and your entire business.
Other aspects to take into consideration when looking for the right tools are:
- ease of use;
- integration capabilities;
- ability to track individual user behavior as well;
- a marketing analytics solution that can cover several needs you have;
- customizing reports;
- free demo;
- documentation and training beforehand.
In my case it wasn’t just one tool but a combination of them. We started with Google Analytics and Hotjar (for web analytics) and then introduced Woopra (for end-to-end customer journey analysis), Hubspot for CRM, Intercom for chatbot and Mailchimp via Zapier.
The truth is most optimisation tools do various tasks, but none of them do it all. So it’s better to know what you need from your toolset before you sign up to anything.
The Funky & Hard part: Analyze + Act
Remember how I piloted that plane in the intro? Of course I didn’t have to use all the controls, lights and buttons to start the plane. In different situations you use a separate combination of commands...depending on what you’re dealing with.
Knowing what you want to measure in marketing and having some tools in place is just 50% of the work. The other 50% is collecting, combining, testing, comparing, matchmaking data, observations, reports.
Some insights will be self-evident. Other discoveries might surprise you. And sometimes, you’ll find answers to questions you hadn’t thought to ask.
But most of the time, collecting the info you need will be more complicated .You may need to drill down into specific data points or run more analysis rounds.
It will be frustrating, intriguing, challenging and sometimes rewarding. Believe me. I’m still in the process of building the best analytical program for us and we are not completely there yet.
Will anybody see my struggle?
Yes, if you document every experiment and put it in a nice doc for your executives to inform future strategic directions.
What I do in this regard is I use an experiments document - or a growth machine how I named it. That’s a list with marketing & communication tactics to be implemented on each of the issue detected. It looks like this:
Why is it called a Growth Machine? Because it’s scalable, somewhat predictable, and repeatable. More like a process. And of course, easy to track.
First, we measure. Then, based on the metrics, draw the conclusions, initiate hypotheses, come up with tactics, implement and test, analyze and evaluate. We learn from all of this. and REPEAT.
Custom Analytics Process = Control
All these will ultimately help you define your growth lane, which is different from one business to another.
If you measure, you know what is working, where it's working, and when you failed. There are so many variables:
- those you though about;
- those you discover along the way;
- those that help you ask the next questions.
Your role as a marketer is to connect all these dots, understand their dynamic and how they relate to business goals.
I’m not saying we are on the fastest or the best route to destination. Or that we already found our growth lane. We are out there, in the air, flying the plane and while doing it learning what suits us best and how to cope with the weather or other external elements. The secret is to find the control point - the analytics process that is grounded in your data.
What was your journey to defining a custom analytics process? Write to me here and let me learn from you.