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Beyond Google Analytics: What Companies Need to Know Before Diving Deep On Data


Getting a leg up on competitors in today’s marketplace means using all the marketing tools at a business’s disposal to collect and crunch data, gain new insights, and use those insights to win customers and capture even more data.

The problem is, there’s a breathtaking number of digital marketing tools at our fingertips. How can a company, whether they’re data veterans or novices, know which tools are the right ones?

As that 1960s soul classic goes, it ain’t what you got—it’s how you use it.

It’s easy to collect all the latest and most cutting-edge technologies available, but they won’t do much good if companies don’t know how to maximize their potential. It’s all about strategy. That’s why companies truly intent on getting into the data game need a strong marketing roster.

We spoke with two digital marketing experts, Todd Hovey and Damon Popovich, about what companies should prepare for when delving into the data mines. Todd and Damon have worked with a number of Fortune 500 companies including Motorola, Microsoft, and eBay to deliver world-class digital marketing strategies.

Find out why the data-led marketing team has become the beating heart of many modern organizations.

Q: How does today's digital marketing organization gather, manage, and leverage data to achieve goals?

Hovey: I think it's the sophistication that powers so much of the digital marketing technologies and the growth of access to comprehensive data. There's so much measurement, and there's so much attribution happening now, that you can get highly detailed insights into audience personas and really understand what tactical lever(s) in your campaigns are making the most impact. Analytics and expanding channels for reaching people through different mediums—mobile, web, interactive TV, interactive advertising, video—have caused the discipline to get very focused. You have to go deep to really be strategic and to understand how your reach is impacting somebody.


Q: So what does that mean for a company’s internal organization? Who’s the data lead on a modern digital marketing team?

Hovey: An analytics lead is really the brain hub of your entire marketing organization, who not only measures the effectiveness of a campaign but also exposes insights that guide the strategies going forward. They might look at the customer’s entire journey through the funnel or evaluate marketing investments against customer lifetime value. That person usually reports to the Marketing Director or CMO on overall campaign performance and the health of the business.

Marketing needs data analytics leadership to oversee marketing campaign analytics, revenue analytics, customer acquisition analytics, lead-generation analytics, [and] website SEO analytics. For social media, there can also be a separate social media strategist who may have a blended role focused on analytics, content and content calendar strategies.  For companies heavily dependent on website marketing, you might have someone who's specifically focused on paid media and SEO analytics.

Popovich: Campaigns across social media, email and other digital channels typically point back to the website where conversion takes place. That's another reason why the website itself is such an important channel, and home to such rich analytics data. Data and Analytics from the website help digital marketers understand conversion metrics, engagement rates and ROI, among other key data points.

Q: How does automation and data impact modern marketing operations and trickle down throughout the company ranks?

Hovey: You can't go wrong investing in automation—unless you don't have the talent that knows how to use it. That is an important defining factor. Understanding how to maximize the automation tools is crucial but just as important is how different automation tools can work together to drive frictionless automation. There’s a fine balance required here between technical aptitude and operational excellence.  

Q: You mentioned some marketing tools. How transferable are the skills required to be a successful data-driven digital marketer?

Whenever I'm talking to a candidate and they're telling me about their tools they use, I just listen. I don't ever want to say one tool is better over the other, because I think that's a disadvantage in this world when people think that way. What I look for is, do they understand the theory behind the tool? The best tools out there mostly do about the same thing. It's just a matter of knowing how to navigate and evangelize it.

Popovich: Marketing automation tools provide invaluable data specific to consumer demographics, behavior, engagement, and overall campaign effectiveness.

There’s definitely no shortage of good marketing automation specialists out there. When I talk to candidates who have demonstrated expertise in marketing automation, I recommend that they define marketing automation and promote its value when talking to a hiring manager. I think there's a lot of people in senior leadership roles within the marketing organization who don't appreciate the breadth of what marketing automation tools can do and the types of analytical insights they can provide.

Q: On that note about some senior managers not fully grasping certain elements of modern digital-marketing technologies: what do you think are some of the least understood terms?

Hovey: I think marketing automation would definitely be number one on that list. Number two would be analytics. Many people hear, “Google Analytics,” and they think, “Oh, that’s going to monitor my website traffic so I know how many people came to my site, how much time they spent.”

That's not what analytics means; it’s a lot more than that. It's looking at a holistic view of everything related to a campaign. It's using Google Analytics, of course. It's also using analytics coming from your social platforms. It's also looking at your marketing automation tool and the analytics that come from that. There's a lot of data out there from a variety of sources that can be used to tell a thorough story - not just a small portion of the story.

This interview has been condensed and edited for grammar and clarity.

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