A study sponsored by Adobe shows that approximately 80 percent of marketing professionals know that proving returns on their company's marketing investment is critical now and in the future. Yet, an ITSMA / Vision Edge Marketing study reveals that just over a quarter of them feel confident they can do this. 

Here are three simple steps you can take to: 

  • find the data you need
  • access it quickly
  • package it into meaningful reports that will demonstrate your marketing efforts are paying off.

Step 1: Spend less on systems and software, more on people

Many companies spend thousands -- or millions -- of dollars a year on computer systems, servers, and software that collect and store all kinds of data. Yet, when it comes time to answer simple questions like:

  • How many people visited our website?
  • How many visited our website and viewed an online ad?
  • How many of the people that did these things actually contacted us?

The answer is usually: "We don't have data on that."

The reality is, you probably do. It's just that the people who run your data systems are experts on doing just that: running systems. They're not data reporting specialists. It can be the same with analysts. They're experts on numbers, not marketing.

The first step to solving this is to spend less on systems and software and instead hire a consultant who has experience in data-driven marketing to optimize those you already have and work with your team to plug the gaps. A consultant can help you:

  • Learn how to communicate effectively with your IT and analytics departments so you can get the answers you need to your data-related questions
  • Figure out what data you have and what's missing
  • Get direct access to data
  • Pull together reports and a metrics-based story that can help you explain the effectiveness of your marketing programs to your leadership.
Check it out: This article provides some valuable information that could help you find the right data consultant for your company.

Another important thing to consider: Think about data before -- or as -- you develop a marketing campaign. If you create a campaign with data at its foundation, you won't be scrambling on the back end to find the numbers you need to prove its effectiveness. Not sure how to do this? An agency that's knowledgeable about data-driven marketing can help you structure campaigns right so it's easy to report on them.

Step 2: Set-up dashboards to help you access data instantly

In today's instant information culture, why should you have to wait until the end of the month to get your marketing data reports?  After all, every day that you don't have access to numbers is a day you could be wasting money on an ineffective campaign -- or missing an opportunity to pump more money into a winning one.

So why not work with your IT team to set up reports and dashboards that let you check on the effectiveness of your campaigns any place, any time. Some examples:

Power Editor lets you see how your paid Facebook marketing efforts are doing real time. While this system can be a little cumbersome and clunky, it's relatively simple to set up and bookmark reports you can check any time. Once you do this, it's easy to build familiarity and navigate the system. Facebook also has some great videos and teaching tools to help you become a Power Editor pro. 

Google Analytics is a well-known and powerful tool that can help you instantaneously understand the traffic coming to your website, apps and more. Similar to Power Editor, it can seem a little dense. But in a few hours, someone from your IT department, analytics team, or a consultant can help you set up a dashboard and reports that can get you the numbers you need to understand whether the dollars you're spending on your website are paying off. Google also offers information and tutorials that can answer your questions.

MOZ provides a suite of tools that can help you understand how your company's SEO is performing at any given time. (There are many, many other options in the SEO universe, but MOZ is a good starting point.) Their tools are relatively easy to use and the company has an informative resource section, including a Beginner's Guide to SEO

There are more data gathering tools you could consider than we can cover in this article. An agency specializing in data driven marketing can help you select and set up the ones that are right for you.

Step 3: Build meaningful reports to prove your marketing is paying off

Your company's data is likely coming from a multitude of sources, including databases that report on content, websites, social media, advertising, SEO, sales, contacts and more. It may seem impossible to pull that data together into a meaningful analysis. But that's not the case.

Data marketing powerhouses like Amazon, Nordstrom and Apple do this every minute and every hour of every day. This is how the best retail companies survive and thrive in today's dog-eat-dog world. They devote significant resources to doing this and so should you.

The reason you can't get meaningful reports created is because you -- and the people on your team -- are probably only doing it part time. You must have focused resources in place to track down data and link it together into a story.

Can't afford to fund a full-time position to do this? You don't need to. A consultant or agency working with you for a few weeks can set-up the reporting you need to transform your marketing team into a data-driven powerhouse like the best retail marketing organizations.

So, the answer is up to you. What are you going to say the next time your leader asks you to prove the value of your marketing efforts?

Contact us to take the first step toward turning your marketing department into a data machine. 

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