How Truthful Are Your Numbers? Why Marketing Analytics Sometimes Lie
It seems like everywhere you turn, there’s advice on why marketing is important, how to do it and who you should be marketing to.
Today, I’m not going to talk about those things. I’m going to offer some advice that you’re probably not going like. Are you ready for it?
I think you’re using your marketing analytics all wrong.
How is that possible? There is no error in analytics. Numbers don’t lie, it is what it is.
Well, except for when it isn’t.
Yes, you have all the analytical tools you need at your disposal to make informed decisions about your marketing strategy. But, what if they aren’t telling you the whole story?
We all know that there are two sides to every story. Marketing analytics only tell you the number’s side. What they don’t convey is the human side of marketing, the areas where human behaviour influences marketing in ways that analytics can’t pick up on.
Are analytical metrics a waste of time and energy? No way! They are incredibly important, but they are also only one part of the puzzle. Take for example that found here claim that proving their ROI for their marketing activities in one of the biggest challenges that they face. Why do you think this is?
It could be because they are not looking at the big picture and reaching beyond analytics to determine the success of their marketing strategy.
So, just how could your marketing analytics be deceiving you, and what can you do about it? Let’s dig a little deeper.
How Sampling Bias Can Kill Your Campaign
A sampling bias is something that happens when the data you collect, and the predictions made on said data, do not accurately reflect your real customer base. There is a discord between how data is collected from your market, and how your market is defined, that marketing strategist seem to have trouble honing in on.
As an example, let’s look at a typical survey that might pop up on a business’s site. The survey is there with the intention of collecting important data about their customer, but the problem is that the data collected might not be very relevant at all.
If 6 out of 10 people who visit the site fill out the survey, that equals a great deal of data collected. But, what if only 2 out of every 10 people that visit the site make a purchase? That leaves room for a couple possible conversions, but chances are that not all 6 of those people actually define the target market.
What’s happened is that your analytics have been polluted with data that just doesn’t belong. If you use this information to influence your marketing strategy, your resources are going towards a market that doesn’t exist. Talk about disaster for your ROI.
Social Media Could Be the Biggest Culprit of All
Social media is huge and everyone’s doing it. We know, we get it.
But the very nature of social media platforms is so fluid that they make accurate analytics rather difficult. Let’s say you have been marketing on Facebook. You have tens of thousands of likes, and you pay careful attention to what people are saying and how they interact with you.
Except, not all of those likes, even the ones that are making the effort to engage are going to be a solid representation of your true market. Social media opens up the world and lets all of us run around, bouncing in and out, doing and saying as we please. For a business, this really clouds the waters of analytics. Even if you are careful, what you end up with is a set of data that only represents a fraction of your market.
The tricky part is figuring out just how much of your market that is. It could be 90% or it could be 10%. Marketing analytics don’t always do such a great job of illustrating this.
There are different approaches you can take to solving the social media analytical conundrum. The first is to base your analytics off of a randomized sample of your customers. Maybe, with purchase, you ask your customers if they are connected with you on social media. You do this with a straight 100 orders and voila! You have a randomized sample that is more indicative of your real audience than what social media analytics are telling you.
What if you find out that your customer base does have a strong social media presence. Great, now you know that you can more accurately leverage those analytics. But, going forth without discovering how representative those analytics are is a marketing mistake that most business can’t afford to make.
Web Analytics That Like to Keep Secrets
Most businesses say that their marketing strategy would be dead in the water without tools like Google Analytics. I’m not disputing this. Web analytics, like traffic and site performance, is critical for evaluating the success of your marketing efforts.
But, here again, we run into the issue that there is so much that isn’t being told with just web analytics. There are little gems of data in there that could make or break your campaign. You just need to know how to access them.
Enter market analytics.
With market analytics, the metrics are more focused on determining how online events and activities influence consumer behaviours like browsing activity and sales conversions. Market analytics scan more than just your website. They combine your entire digital presence including social media, email marketing and online PR.
What does optimizing your strategy to include both web and market analytics together accomplish?
It provides a big picture view that allows you to determine which metrics are the most important at every stage of your marketing campaign. Meaning, you can make informed decisions based on a thorough analysis rather than just the snapshot picture that only one type of analytic provides.
To be successful with marketing, as with anything, realizing that you need more than just one tool is crucial. You wouldn’t think that a hammer was the only tool you needed in your toolbox, so why depend on straight marketing analytics to build your business?
There is so much to found here, and much of it is about numbers, but your success as a business is also about human behaviour and interaction. Reach outside of the box to gain the insights, or the other side of the story, that marketing analytics just don’t tell on their own.
About Your Guest Blogger:
My name is Tabitha Jean Naylor and I am a small business owner who does marketing consulting for other small businesses both here in the US and abroad. My background includes a combination of sales and marketing for start-up companies through NASDAQ listed organizations. I’ve been featured on Hubspot, Digital Marketer, the Entrepreneurs Podcast Network, and am a regular contributor to Social Media Today. A high level summary of some of my guest blogging contributions can be found here