Author: Justin Dunham / Source: MarTech Today I’ve said before that robots are the gatekeepers to your customers. And by “robots,” I real
- Algorithms run Google’s search rankings, and they decide what users see on Facebook and Twitter.
- Marketing automation systems let us build engines to distribute content to millions (billions?) of readers, listeners and watchers.
- Marketers are building massive data warehouses that enable segmentation and personalization on a scale never seen before.
Software has eaten marketing, whether it’s the martech that your company uses, the ad platforms that Google runs or the worldwide, real-time content distribution system known as Facebook. The internet has created an opportunity for marketers: to reach most people on the planet, instantaneously, with a personalized and tailored message.
It’s a massive opportunity. In fact, the opportunity is so large it’s unmanageable. Technology, software and algorithms have emerged to help deal with the complexity surrounding it:
- We can outsource our targeting to ad networks, which can help us find the people most receptive to our messaging.
- We can use SEO tools to help us track our search engine performance and the factors that influence it.
- We can’t parse everything we hear on social, so we use listening and sentiment analysis tools to do that for us.
- We can’t personalize our websites for every visitor, so we set up simple rules to try to show the right content to the right people.
- And, of course, AI will take over all these things (eventually).
It’s critical for marketers to understand and work with digital marketing technology. But technology doesn’t manage all of the complexity for us, by itself. We need to develop practices that help us use digital marketing tools effectively, in order to maximize the benefit we realize from them. Here are a few ideas.
Less data, more context
We’re all familiar with the 20- or 30-page weekly marketing report. Or the spreadsheets that get sent out during the week, auto-generated by various tools. Or debates about the finer points of page views vs. unique page views vs. visitors.
Our capacity for data collection is enormous, and pulling it together isn’t all that difficult.
And yet marketers don’t always feel better off with all this data. That’s because it’s still hard to extract meaning from it.
We measure website traffic, and we know that more traffic is probably good. Except that if all of our new traffic bounces, it probably wasn’t worthwhile for us to acquire it in the first place. Then again, if the traffic that bounces was never going to buy from us anyway, that’s totally fine. But another consideration is whether the people who do stay actually turn into revenue.
Suddenly, the fairly simple question of measuring website traffic requires a lot more context to be understood correctly. And if you’re running a 20- or 30-page report every week, there’s no way you can invest enough time to truly understand what each number is telling you.
Look for clues, not answers
Of course, some things are still really hard to measure. I get asked a lot about what makes an effective home page, and there are ways to measure this: bounce rates, task completion rates, conversions. But none of these will give you the full answer, and commissioning a proper usability study on your home page (never mind the constraints that such a study may encounter when you go to implement its findings) is expensive.
And that doesn’t really help you with PR, product strategy, branding or organizational issues like the effectiveness of your sales-marketing relationships. A lot of these things aren’t (yet) susceptible to being rigorously measured.
Also, even the things we can measure are easy to mismeasure. When an…