Actionable metrics allow marketers to assess their activities for in-depth reporting and real-time optimisation. Marketers must look beyond vanity metrics and the number of integrations data intelligence providers can offer to focus on actionable metrics relevant to their business goals.

Marketers’ need for insight is driving a surge in measurement tools and techniques, leaving marketers overwhelmed by choice and frequently drowning in data. They need to facilitate in-depth reporting, enabling them to justify spend, actionable metrics drive efficiency and effectiveness through continuous optimisation. So how can marketers ensure they are focusing on quality over quantity and using the right data to make sound decisions?

Go beyond vanity metrics

For too long marketers have relied on vanity metrics – big numbers that make the marketing department look good but don’t mean much to the overall business. For digital advertising campaigns, this could include impressions or click-through rates; while for social media activity this might mean follower numbers. They might seem impressive but these stats don’t tie into real business goals such as sales or revenue growth. Marketers might get excited about a rapid rise in app installs but that peak doesn’t mean much if nobody is actually using the app.

Awareness of the need to go beyond vanity metrics and find more meaningful measurements that relate to business goals is growing. It is spurred on by initiatives such as the IAB’s “Don’t be a clickhead” campaign, which aims to reduce reliance on click-through rates. This is best described as a “short-term metric that fails to tell the full story of how well an ad performs.”

Actionable metrics that matter

As marketers seek more meaningful metrics that align with business goals, they risk descending into data chaos. Vast volumes of data are produced every day, from ecommerce platforms providing visitor stats to advertising systems generating behavioural insights.

Many marketers don’t know what data their business collects, where it is stored, and what they can do with it – so they tend to take their cue from data intelligence providers. These experts love to boast about the number of data connectors in their libraries, allowing marketers to draw data from countless sources. But in much the same way as marketers shouldn’t rely on vanity metrics, they shouldn’t choose their data intelligence solution based solely on the number of data integrations a provider can offer.

To get a full picture of their data-driven social media marketing strategy, for instance, marketers could draw data from all popular social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram. They could retrieve organic data from Twitter posts on an hourly basis, delving into impressions, retweets, engagement and followers. They could blend data from boosted Instagram posts such as comments and likes with insight from Facebook ads, revealing which creative, targeting and bidding options work best. They could pull data from LinkedIn, breaking down follower stats by industry, function or geographic location and understanding page views by section or device.

While each of these connectors could deliver incredibly useful insights, if marketers try to use them, they will be completely overwhelmed with social data. If they then add in other sources such as advertising, analytics, retail, CRM, communication or SEO tools – to name but a few – they’ll have far more information than they could ever action in a meaningful way. 

Rather than being caught up in the numbers, marketers should work with data intelligence providers to work out which integrations are most relevant to their unique customer base – w­hich will ultimately help them achieve their business goals. For instance, a B2B technology provider will probably find LinkedIn a more useful social data connector than Pinterest, whereas a fashion retailer may find Instagram more insightful than Facebook. Most marketers will find that it’s not about the number of sources – its the depth of insights by combining sources. 

Utilising marketing intelligence

Even when marketers are only using a handful of data integrations to drive business intelligence, these will still produce vast volumes of data, potentially in different formats, that must be converted into actionable metrics. To make the most of data intelligence they will need a data platform to collect, clean, transform and harmonise information from a variety of isolated data streams.

Next, they will need dashboard software to display the data in a relevant and understandable format. Marketers must be able to query data sets automatically with the level of granularity necessary to bring insight into reporting, enabling them to use the data collected to address specific business problems at hand. This could be achieved through technologies such as augmented analytics, which blends machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms to automate data preparation, management, and pro-active insight generation across the business.

When the right data is integrated in a single dashboard, intelligence can provide a uniform view of the market. This allows marketers to extract actionable metrics that are relevant to specific sales or marketing initiatives, deliver insight to drive high-level business decisions, and improve campaigns through real-time optimisation.

Today’s marketers have so much data at their disposal; it’s easy to get carried away. Instead of chasing the apparent success illustrated by vanity metrics, or getting caught up in the number of data integrations a provider can supply, marketers must consider which measurements are most relevant to their business goals. When successfully done, you’ll have the ability to harmonise data collection into actionable metrics that relate to business success and campaign optimisation.

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