3 Considerations for More Accurate Marketing Reports
When executed effectively marketing reports are useful for a number of reasons. They not only help prove the worth of a marketing team’s efforts to the rest of the organization– a notoriously difficult task for many marketers—but, well-developed marketing reports can even shape the future of your marketing strategy.
Reports highlight which specific aspects of a marketing strategy are working, and which aren’t. With these insights, marketing leaders are able to make high-level decisions to duplicate and scale success. However, not all reports are created equally. In order to drive real, lasting change, your reports must be accurate.
Think about it: If your reports are plagued with inconsistencies and errors, are you really painting a reliable and accurate picture of your marketing efforts? Probably not. If that’s not enough to convince you, consider this: Inaccuracies lead to poor analysis. Poor analysis promotes poor decision-making, and poor decisions ultimately lead to failure. It’s a vicious cycle.
If you suspect your reports aren’t accurate, keep reading. In today’s post, we share our top tips to improve the accuracy of your marketing reports.
1. Consider your technology selection.
As marketing continues to move towards the future, emerging technologies promise to streamline your duties– from execution to optimization, even reporting. At their core, these tools are intended to make a marketer’s life easier by simplifying or eliminating the menial tasks associated with marketing. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. In fact, the wrong marketing technology can wreak havoc on your marketing reports.
Your perfect technology stack will be largely dependent on your organization’s particular wants and needs—but, when it comes to improving the accuracy of your reports, there are a few important considerations to keep in mind:
- Integration: Like most modern organizations, your team likely utilizes a number of different platforms to execute and track the results of your different initiatives. This often results in disconnected data sets that marketers must piece together to develop an accurate depiction of their various campaigns.In an effort to simplify this process, many reporting tools now offer a variety of integrations that allow disparate tools to communicate and share data with one another. If your core technologies don’t share data, consider reconfiguring your technology stack to include more tools that seamlessly communicate with one another.
- Automation: Manual reporting is not only tedious and time-consuming, but often prone to human error. If you’re relying on excel sheets and the copy and paste function on your computer, it’s time to take a step back and see if any of these processes can be automated. Not only will your reports be more accurate, but you’ll also have more time to act on the data you collect.
- Ease of Use: Humans aren’t as complicated as we make them out to be. Think about it, if something is difficult to learn or use, most people won’t bother to do so. So, if your different tools and technologies are difficult to use, the end result will inconsistent and scattered as your different team members find their own workarounds.
We’re by no means saying you need a complete overhaul of your marketing technology, we simply encourage you to analyze your current approach to see where data might be falling through the cracks.
2. Use standardized metrics.
In 2018, marketers have no shortage of metrics at their disposal. As we already pointed out, the modern marketing mix is more complex than ever before; with each new tool, technology, and tactic comes a unique set of metrics used to track performance.
This provides the modern marketer with an overload of data—so much so, that it can be difficult to even know where to begin. To complicate things further, most sales departments deal with the same conundrum—effectively doubling the mess of data a company must work with.
For this reason, we urge you to use standardized metrics across all departments within your organization—as much as possible. Here are a few tips to get you started in the right direction:
· Strategize: Work with sales leaders to develop a shared plan that aligns your business stages with both the buyer’s journey and the expected business outcomes your company is driving towards. In most instances, these stages will differ depending on an organization’s business model, but for many B2B companies, these stages include: Awareness, Engage, Convert, Retain, and Advocacy.
· Determine Goals & Corresponding Metrics: Using your plan, establish a set of shared goals that align with the over-arching business objectives for each stage. With the end goal in mind, you’ll be able to quickly identify which metrics can help determine progress towards a goal.
· Define Important Metrics: Establish agreed upon definitions for the metrics you will be tracking. Prioritize metrics like, total number of leads, Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL), Sales Qualified Lead (SQL), and opportunities. Get super specific. The more ambiguous your definitions, the more room there is for misunderstanding, misinterpretation, and misalignment. Additionally, be sure definitions are not only documented but communicated effectively to all.
· Consistently Evaluate and Share Findings: Both your sales and marketing teams should use shared dashboards and reports. Meet often to discuss your findings and interpret results.
3. Prioritize data hygiene.
As a modern marketer, you already know that prospect and customer data is the lifeblood of any successful marketing campaign. Think about it: Without it, how would you know who your best buyers are, what messaging resonates with them, or how to reach them? The short answer is-you wouldn’t.
However, when the data you rely on is plagued with outdated information, incomplete-fields or inaccuracies, it can prove to be a costly obstacle along your route to success. Not only will you see low response rates, but bad data can cost your company revenue. Consider the following (source):
- 62% of organizations rely on marketing data that’s up to 40% inaccurate
- Up to 25% of B2B database contacts contain critical errors
- 40% of business objectives fail due to inaccurate data
- It costs $1 to verify a record as it’s entered, $10 to scrub and cleanse it later, and $100 if nothing is done
From lead generation to revenue, dirty data can have an insurmountable impact on all areas of your business – even your marketing reports. The reason for this is simple. When your programs operate on dirty CRM data, failure is guaranteed from the start. As a result, any data contained within your reports will be skewed.
In short, bad data can equal bad analysis, and bad analysis can lead to poor decision making. As frustrating as it may be, data decay is a natural outcome of the ever changing B2B landscape. People constantly change jobs, titles, locations, and places of work, rendering their contact data useless.
If you’re ready to prioritize contact data health, here are our top tips to get you started with data hygiene:
- Perform a Database Audit:The first step towards proper data management is to perform an audit of your existing contact database to uncover inaccuracies, errors, and missing information. Although it’s possible to do this manually, many companies find this process to be time-consuming and prone to human error. Instead, we recommend partnering with a market intelligence solution to do the heavy lifting. Most data service providers can fill in missing information, rectify errors, and improve the overall accuracy of your data.
- Evaluate and improve data collection processes:Your data will never be perfect, but there are steps you can take to drastically improve data collection methods. Do you use web forms to collect your data? Mass uploads? Or do you rely on manual data entry? Consider how you access contact information and work to streamline these systems. Eliminate unnecessary form fields, relabel anything that seems confusing, and use form validation to acquire certain data points.
- Invest in automated, ongoing data hygiene: The second you audit your database, the information within it starts to decay again—there’s no preventing this. Fortunately, the latest and greatest in data technology provides advanced maintenance capabilities—including automated, pre-scheduled data appends. If you’re serious about the future of your marketing efforts, we recommend you look into this type of data solution.
We’re a big fan of the phrase, ‘garbage in, garbage out’. And it definitely applies to your data and your marketing reports—when bad you start with bad data, you end with bad data.
The Bottom Line
There’s no way around it: Success in the modern marketing environment is a numbers game. It’s no longer enough to simply say your marketing efforts are paying out. In order to gain executive buy-in and get the recognition you deserve your team must have concrete proof that the work you’re doing is paying out– a feat that is impossible without accurate reporting.
About the Author: Krysta Williams is the Marketing Content Specialist at ZoomInfo where she writes for their B2B blog. ZoomInfo is the most accurate and actionable B2B database solution that helps organizations accelerate growth and profitability. In her free time, Krysta likes to spend time with her dog and write about business topics.