The story’s been written thousands — if not millions — of times already. Data is the next big thing in marketing. Actually, it is the big thing now. It’s leaving almost all other marketing talk in the dust with the attention being paid to it.

Sadly, much of the talk about data is just that: talk. Just look at a few stats on this topic:
 
• 46 percent of B2B marketers indicate that measuring ROI is a challenge.
• 78 percent of B2B marketers struggle with content marketing ROI.
• 60 percent of companies struggle to measure social media ROI.

Marketers know data is important. They know it can help with marketing efforts, with targeting customers and potential customers, with measuring results — but they struggle to do anything about it.

Here are some of the myriad reasons companies shy away from engaging with data:
 
• They don’t know where to start.
• They don’t think they have the skill set to manage it.
• They don’t have access to all the meaningful data because it lives in different areas of their company.
• They don’t want to make the investment in the tools or time needed.
• They don’t know that they’d be able to react or respond to the constant stream of new information.

These are all ways companies rationalize why they can’t do anything with data, or don’t take advantage of its potential power to help their business. But ignoring the problem doesn’t mean it will go away. Doing little to nothing with data will actually harm your business in the end.

At Two Rivers Marketing, we’ve always had a commitment to measurement and reporting, particularly with our public relations share of voice efforts. This has largely been a manual, “clipping service” type of undertaking to track and analyze the editorial placements we’ve earned on behalf of our clients versus the placements of our clients’ competitors. We generate our own data manually for this type of information, and house it in a proprietary database system.

As our social media, digital advertising, email marketing, website management and other online activities for our clients increase, so too does the demand for measurement and reporting on all these activities. Marketing metrics and performance reporting have become a standard requirement to ensure our integrated marketing efforts are not only strategic but also successful. The need to define success, measure ROI, report results and provide actionable insights to continually improve our efforts is critical to implementing successful integrated marketing programs.

As the sheer volume of marketing data we were collecting continued to increase, compiling and organizing this data for analysis and insights became a major challenge. The data was constantly changing; it was located within different systems with new platforms being added every day. Without a tool to connect and unify the data, we were spending hours repeating time-consuming efforts to manually wrangle multiple spreadsheets while shifting between different systems that didn’t always add up. Additionally, we struggled to define a consistent and unified view that satisfied all stakeholders.

These combined reasons led us to invest in a data tool called Datorama to help us make sense of the ocean of data. Datorama is a marketing analytics and business intelligence platform that connects to marketing data from most analytics sources (e.g., Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, etc.) to provide real-time visibility of your marketing campaigns, social activity and more.

Datorama helps us organize and consolidate our clients’ data efficiently. By eliminating much of the data-gathering time, we can spend more time analyzing it and providing insights for better decision-making. As marketers, we can use Datorama to optimize performance across every channel, platform and campaign, while connecting web analytics, media, social media, brand health and more for a complete view of the impact of our marketing efforts.

With a tool like this, we have gotten off of the sidelines and dived into the world of data. It hasn’t always been easy. There has definitely been a learning curve and some hiccups along the way.

But … we’re doing it. And we’re committed to making data analysis a top priority moving forward.

• We’ve figured out where to start.
• We’re building the skill sets to make it more meaningful, and pushing data skills out across our various agency teams.
• We’re helping our clients gather and get access to various data sources so we can analyze it.
• We’ve made an investment in the data tools and the time to learn about the data.
• And we’re working on reacting and responding to changes in the data more quickly.

There’s definitely more to come, but we believe that by better understanding the data, we’ll deliver better marketing efforts for our clients. And that’s why we’ve moved from just talking about data to actually doing something about it.

 

About Patrick McGill

As the managing director of strategy, Patrick is our very own Sherlock Holmes. When he’s not immersed in research, you’ll more than likely find Patrick traveling — those travels have taken him to all 50 states. You can email our inquisitive Mr. McGill at patrickm@2rm.com.