People have opinions. That’s a fact.
When a client approaches our agency, they typically have opinions about why their marketing is or isn’t working.
As they should….
Their boots-on-the-ground knowledge is vital to creating the right marketing strategy and successful campaigns.
But just like everyone on this planet, some of the information they relay to us is skewed by their own bias. For example, who in the agency world hasn’t heard someone answer, “This product/service is for everyone,” when asked which audience they are targeting?
As a data-driven PR and Marketing firm, we know that marketing based on opinions and anecdotal experience can really miss the mark. The good news is that it can be avoided by conducting online market research that threads various sources of data together in what Resolute calls a “digital landscape,” a more advanced version of your typical marketing audit.
Here are 6 steps we take to put one together.
1- Gather data from multiple sources
Just like painting a picture, your data sources are essentially your color palette. Just like in art, the more colors you have, the more realistic the landscape becomes. That’s why data is king when creating a digital landscape. Once you gather many data points, you will use these facts about who is viewing your services or products in terms of when, why and how to make informed decisions.
2- Use a keyword planner or SEO tool to understand phrases people are using to find you (and your competitors)
SEMrush is a powerful and versatile competitive intelligence suite for online marketing. It allows you to find the keywords people type into a search engine that actually brings visitors to your site or your competitors’ websites. Tools such as this can be used to look at several different metrics, including the amount of branded organic traffic you get, which can give you a better understanding of how well people know your brand. For companies with a decent level of brand awareness, the brand name (in many variations) will be a high number of organic keywords that bring people to the website. If it’s not, we sometimes use this data to recommend brand awareness building tactics.
This data will also identify the keywords that competitors are targeting for display and search ads. One word of caution when looking at this type of data. There are many organizations that task someone with, “Hey go run some Google Ads.” If you’re that person, don’t fall into the trap of bidding on x, y and z keywords just because your competitor is. It doesn’t mean it’s working for them and it may not work for you. Regardless, it’s still interesting to see which keywords trigger their ads.
3- Analyze website effectiveness via Google Analytics
Whenever someone asks me about Google Analytics, I always say, “Analytics is like Microsoft Excel. MS Excel is a very robust and powerful tool, but most people just know how to make a basic spreadsheet.” But, even though you don’t have to get too fancy to get insights from Google Analytics, it can be very powerful, especially if you sync it up to things like AdWords, Tag Manager, and e-commerce tools.
The most important rule for Google Analytics (and really anytime you are analyzing data) is to look at your date range. I usually look at at least a year or longer of data if possible, since sometimes, making decisions based on a short date range can lead you down the wrong path.
The typical metrics I show in a digital landscape from Google Analytics are:
User flow (choose a dimension to measure that’s most applicable)
Content drill-down (bounce rate, average time on page)
Social network (I also like to include the secondary dimension of the URL shared)
Most popular day of the week
You can use Databox’s free Google Analytics Website traffic dashboard to immediately begin monitoring some of these metrics.
4- Identify high-performing content via Facebook Page insights
As the media has highlighted very recently, Facebook, um, knows a lot about us and our online behavior. Facebook insights can give you a very powerful view into who is engaging with your brand online.
Your digital landscape should pull in data that looks at the demographic makeup of your page, fans, reach and engagement.
However, the metric I weigh the most (in terms of importance) is engagement. I love the simple but oh-so-painfully accurate quote by John Loomer in his blog post, Your Facebook Page Organic Reach is Dropping (But Not Really). He says:
“How Facebook reports on the number of people who ‘saw’ your post does not change the number of people who acted (reacted, commented, shared, clicked, converted) on it. These actions are what matter most. They are what you should be focused on.”
When it comes to looking at Facebook posts, I also filter Facebook posts with the highest amount of engagement and ask myself the following questions:
What was being communicated in these posts?
What kind of creative accompanied them (video, slideshow, image etc.)?
Was cross-promotion involved?
What hashtags were used?
This helps me determine the tactics that have truly worked for them in the past, build upon that messaging and gain a better understanding of what resonates with their audience.
5- Use ad platforms to determine who to target and how to target them
Gathering data from AdWords and Facebook Ads Manager (or Business Manager) is another extremely powerful source of data. The metrics I like to include from these sources are:
Affinity audience (AdWords)
The device where the ad was viewed
Placement breakdown (Ads Manager)
Custom conversion of pixel activity
6- Use Data to Validate Your Marketing Strategy
Once your digital landscape is created, you’ll begin to see trends that were previously invisible in your marketing data. The clear picture creates actionable items. And these actionable items are based in real-world, real-time facts rather than the assumptions and opinions we carry around with us that they feel like facts.
For example, we’ve had clients who assumed they needed to do a large radio/TV push for a campaign only to realize after the digital landscape that the majority of their audience was much younger than they had thought. In addition, that audience primarily accessed their website and social media on their mobile devices. This allowed our client to re-allocate marketing dollars to include more mobile advertising than previously determined.
The digital landscape is always an eye-opening experience for our clients and the Resolute team. We learn so much from this research and ultimately craft a marketing strategy that is much more effective.
How are you using data to make sure your marketing strategy is the right one?