By February, 80% of New Year’s resolutions will have failed. That’s a lot of abandoned goals in such a short span of time. What’s more is that only about 9.2% of individuals feel they’re successful in achieving their New Year’s resolutions. So, are most of us just wasting our time setting and forgetting New Year’s resolutions?
Of course, not. In fact, doing this start-of-year ritual does make a real difference. According to data compiled by Statistic Brain, people who explicitly set New Year’s resolutions are 10 times more likely to meet their goals than those who don’t bother with resolutions at all.
That’s why, if you haven’t yet already, you should start outlining the things you want to improve on in 2018. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that you shouldn’t limit your New Year’s resolutions only to your personal goals. Your professional improvement needs to be part of your resolutions, too.
In today’s post, we’ll go over a handful of practical ideas to help you leverage your marketing analytics stack to its full potential. We’ll take a look at areas in a typical marketing analytics pipeline most marketers can improve on. We’ll then conclude with a quick rundown of a four-step process to really make your data analytics New Year’s resolutions stick.
Resolutions for Marketing Analytics
Last year, data-driven marketers witnessed some pretty telling changes in marketing analytics. We saw the mass adoption of analytics tools, the rise of predictive analytics with the help of AI and machine learning, and the shift in marketing analytics’ role from simply collecting data to actually mining insights.
Still, there remains plenty of room for improvement and challenges to overcome.
#1 Strengthen the fundamentals
Less than half of CMOs surveyed by Forbes and Neuter last year understand how their marketing analytics investment impacts growth. Data cited by NASDAQ agrees with this finding, stating that while 97% of companies use data to capture business opportunities, only 44% actually trust the numbers flashing on their dashboards.
This mostly stems from analytics becoming detached from actual decision-making. That’s why, if you’re only looking to keep one New Year’s resolution, it would be to make sure your marketing analytics stay grounded on the goals and decisions that people at different levels in your organization actually make.
#2 Invest more in automation
Gartner says analytics make up the biggest slice (9.2%) of marketing spend in 2017. Two main areas stand out when it comes to marketing analytics spending: customer data and marketing attribution. While these two items are critical to realizing marketing data’s business impact, an equally important driver of performance is automation.
In most marketing analytics workflows, a lot of activities are best handled by machines. One such area, for example, is reporting. The reporting process typically consists of tedious, repetitive tasks such as pulling out numbers from different data sources, sprinkling these into a dozen spreadsheets, and aggregating them into different summary templates. It’s not hard to imagine how much better life would be with tools like automated dashboards around.
#3 Do more of the exciting stuff
Automation frees up time so that you get to focus on more exciting things in marketing analytics. Sure, AI and machine learning power predictive analytics which in turn powers your marketing efforts, but AI and ML also improve your marketing analytics stack’s productivity.
Harvard Business Review explains four ways AI boosts marketer’ productivity when working with data and analytics:
- Analyzing huge datasets quickly
- Finding and fixing errors in your dataset
- Providing real-time feedback, especially for streaming data
- Enabling text-based insight extraction
#4 Prescribe, don’t just predict
Predictive analytics may be all the rage these days but, to really drive results, you need prescriptive analytics. At a high level, analytics typically fall into four types: descriptive (what happened), diagnostic (what went wrong), predictive (what may happen), and prescriptive (what to do). Leveraging prescriptive analytics in your stack speeds up the decision-making process.
Jeff Rajeck over at Econsultancy thinks marketers should give prescriptive analytics some serious attention. Most marketers today still rely on rearview analytics to make informed decisions. This means that having a data-driven set of actions to take gives you a competitive edge. That’s why the nascent prescriptive analytics market is projected to grow into a $1.6-billion segment by 2022.
#5 Make your data work harder
No discussion of marketing analytics would be complete without emphasizing data quality. Maintaining top quality is one way to make your data work really hard and provide maximum value. That, of course, goes without saying. But even with its obvious importance, data quality still remains a key issue, with U.S. businesses losing $600 billion each year as a result of bad data.
Simply put, bad data leads to bad decisions. You want analytics that truly inform and enlighten users. This year, make sure that the data flowing into your marketing analytics pipeline meets the five dimensions of quality (as pointed out by At Internet):
- Accuracy (Does my data tell me what’s really going on?)
- Completeness (Do I have all the data I need to make a decision?)
- Cleanliness (Is my data error-free?)
- Timeliness (Does my data allow me to respond right away?)
- Consistency (Do I have a single version of a given piece of data?)
Related: Declare Your Independence from Bad Data: A 5-Step Plan
Steps to Make Your Resolutions Stick
Even if the odds of achieving your New Year’s resolutions appear slim, it’s good practice to set goals at the start of the year anyway. In fact, there’s a data-driven way to help improve your likelihood of success.
Chicago Booth Review recently shared a four-step plan to improve people’s chances of following through with their New Year’s goals. Ayelet Fishbach, a prominent behavioral scientist, came up with the system, and it works well for achieving your business goals, too.
Step 1: Actually make a resolution
You’ve already made it this far into the article, so you can probably check this one off. But first, you have to make sure you’re setting specific, measurable, realistic (SMART) goals for your marketing analytics stack.
For example, if you write down “improve data quality” as one of your New Year’s goals, you also have to indicate which areas of data you need to work on and how much improvement you’re aiming for.
Step 2: Consider adding gamification to your action plan
They say that a goal without a plan is just a wish. So, to boost your chances of successfully conquering your resolutions, you need a workable plan, especially one that clearly lays out activities, responsibilities, and timelines.
But to really guarantee achieving your New Year’s goals, you should also make attaining your resolutions enjoyable for everyone involved. Consider gamifying parts of your marketing analytics process. Put the right rewards and incentives in place to motivate your team.
Step 3: Surround yourself with people who support you
Friends and family help you reach the personal goals you set. The same applies to the marketing analytics New Year’s resolutions you outline.
Whether it’s your boss’s nod of approval or your team’s genuine commitment, you want more than just buy-in for your plan. You need help and encouragement from the right people. You know all too well how difficult it is to keep up with the demands of data-driven marketing. When times get tough, sometimes all you need is a helping hand to keep going.
Step 4: Document your progress
This step shouldn’t come as a surprise, since you practically eat, sleep, and breathe KPIs. But it’s still crucial to remember how every macro-level metric (revenue growth, ROI, profits, etc.) consists of micro-metrics which are as equally important to track and optimize.
It’s this lack of a one-size-fits-all measurement of marketing performance that makes apples-to-apples comparisons very challenging. Each component of a modern marketing program produces a unique set of metrics and KPIs, often distracting marketers from the things that really matter to the business. The key, according to IBM, is to have a sound understanding of how every marketing activity (and by extension, every set of metrics) contribute to the overall business goal.
Now that you’ve set your New Year’s goals, it’s time to put them into action. But first, we’d love to know what you’re planning on improving in 2018.