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Chris Foleen, Marketing Project Coordinator, TransCore, Inc.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Brand and Lead Generation Dashboard Improvements

Promotional performance is many times reduced to very simple measures--visits, leads, sales, etc.  But when comparing campaigns over time, or just inspecting the variability of activity over time, it really helps to know what else is going on in the world that may be impacting your efforts. 

Marketing Performance Influencers
  • The Offer.  This is something that gets a lot of attention already.  Testing offers can be helpful to understanding what gets your audience to respond.  This can be the biggest influencer of all for campaign performance, but it is not the only influencer.  
  • User Experience / Creative.  Good creative can help a campaign.  A broken user experience can kill it.  Bad messaging will leave your campaign dry.  Really fun and engaging creative can go viral.  What you present to the audience and how you present it can make or break your campaign.  
  • Seasonality.  Otherwise known as timeliness, this is important.  Don't run a "back to school" special in April. Understand when your market is more responsive, and use that to inform your calendar.  Even for products that would not seem to be tied to any one particular time of year, there may be other temporal factors that make certain times better than others.  Tax season.  End of year budgeting.  Tourist season.  Lots of things can create cyclical patterns in your sales numbers.  It's important to understand where you are today on that cycle in order to maximize your campaign's potential.
  • Brand. How your brand is perceived, trusted, and respected in the market place can help set the stage for a successful campaign.  Gather information from social metrics, customer feedback, web traffic, and surveys to give you an idea of what value your brand has in the market place.  Is there a lot of negative sentiment?  Is there a wave of buzz over a recent white paper?  The ebb and flow of a brand, just like seasonality, can enhance or dampen a campaign's performance.
  • Macro Economic.  Everyone lives in an economy and economies have ups and downs.  Just because your brand seems to be doing good and you have a strong promotional offer does not mean your campaign will break records.  Especially if your target market is a group that has been hit hard by some economic set backs.  National and vertical indicators are good to be aware of as the environment in which your promotion lives and is received.  
A More Complete Marketing Dashboard
The next question becomes how to use this information and who should use it.  The short answer is that it should be on a dashboard and marketing planners should be using it.  This kind of contextual detail may not be appropriate for an executive dashboard, but it would be very helpful one level down in an analytical dashboard for decision makers and planners.
  • Brand Condition.  Having some way to show what sort of state your brand is in would be a great enhancement to a dashboard.  Unfortunately, there is no easy way to show this unless you opt for a very simplified or compound number--like "visibility" in search.  Visually, I think a 3 dimensional line chart would be interesting showing volume against sentiment over time.  However, dashboards favor simplified numbers in only one or two dimensions so this particular visualization may not work.
  • Seasonal Impact.  Are sales slower in the summer?  How much?  This modifier looks at the deviation from historical data to see what kind of adjustment should be made to performance expectations.  
  • Macro-Economic Impact.  Another modifier like seasonality, this metric reflects some sort of larger situation to help predict higher or lower returns.  Choose the indicator(s) depending on your industry and target market.
Adding these will take your dashboards and reports further than before and help predict performance more completely.  Careful analysis afterward will help you understand how to weight the factors and what the flags are for conditions that could be hurt or help your campaigns.  Did social improve brand perception and raise lead gen performance?  Do you need a stronger offer to counter-balance a weak shopping season?  How much stronger?  Incorporating data on influencers into your marketing dashboards and reports can help figure that out.

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