As consumers continue to face the hardships of the pandemic, brands across industries are feeling the impact of uncertain sales. In an effort to conserve capital until markets stabilize, companies are searching for ways to operate as financially efficient as possible, which makes it critical for marketers to demonstrate to employers their ability to work resourcefully and drive business in the near term. And yet, even with their jobs on the line, many marketers are still basing their business decisions on intangible gut feelings instead of proven audience insights.
Nielsen’s Annual Marketing Report, which surveyed over 350 marketers globally, revealed that organizations often base their investments in digital marketing and advertising on perceived value, even when they cannot easily verify the effectiveness of those investments.
For example, surveyed marketers ranked video and social as the most effective paid digital media channels, despite simultaneously admitting only moderate confidence in their ability to measure ROI for each channel.
While optimistic thinking may have worked as a marketing strategy in the past, today’s audience behaviors and market trends are fluctuating too rapidly for good intentions alone to fuel winning results.
Even if organizations’ budgets are tightening, analytics still need to be a priority, as having insights into consumer changes as they’re happening enables marketers to adjust their strategies in real time to be as effective as possible and eliminate wasted spend.
Against the pressures of driving business results amidst crisis, data will be marketers’ secret weapon for success. Here is how marketers can use data—and the tools for collecting and analyzing it—to craft campaigns that thoughtfully influence audiences and, in doing so, increase their organizations’ confidence in their efforts.
For months now, companies have been operating within a transformed media landscape—but have they updated their business goals to reflect this? With the pandemic altering consumer behavior so dramatically, KPIs that worked at the start of the year may no longer make sense.
Therefore, marketing tactics conceptualized to support those outdated goals may miss the mark in today’s climate (e.g., advertisements designed to drive quick, one-time conversions, when brand building initiatives like loyalty programs could have more relevance today).
In order for the data marketers are collecting to be impactful, it needs to align directly with specified business objectives that consider current market realities.
Ensuring KPIs account for industry trends is a smart practice in the best of times as well; by asking themselves what they want to measure and why, marketers gain clarity on which efforts will draw ROI and avoid following variables that leave them with an inaccurate representation of company performance.
Additionally, it’s important for marketers to ensure the measurements they’re collecting capture market and media changes at a granular level, as this enables a level of flexibility marketers can’t achieve by using only macro KPIs.
For example, abstract mile markers like company revenue don’t reveal the level of detail marketers need to understand which strategies are working—and which ones are not—until it’s too late. With micro KPIs (i.e., the tactical performance of a particular channel or strategy), marketers can much more easily identify and respond to sudden changes that may compromise their campaigns’ effectiveness.
While positive ROIs and consumer outcomes are of course what keep companies in business, marketers should be looking at conversion at every stage of the funnel.
With micro KPIs established to monitor consumer behavior across the entire path to purchase, marketers can work more flexibly and resourcefully, adjusting specific elements of their strategy as needed instead of feeling the need to abandon entire projects that didn’t turn out as intended.
Collecting and analyzing enough data to have an actionable understanding of their brands’ performance can be an overwhelming task, which is why marketers should deploy analytics tools to deliver performance insights directly to them.
An automated collection system can save marketers time and eliminate the risk of errors when data is gathered and processed by hand. Further, having the right data, methodology, insights, and activation in place, can lead to, on average, a 7x return on the cost of the analytics program itself, according to Nielsen research.
While many companies may not be considering adding expenses at this time, investing in analytics tools may be just what they need to not only cushion themselves against the hardships of the pandemic, but drive success long after it’s over.
Because it takes, on average, more than a year for 47% of the impact of marketing to be realized (according to the same Nielsen research), it’s especially important for marketers to have access to granular insights in order to show any immediate impacts of their efforts.
Marketers may be feeling pressure to prove their organizational value to employers, but strategic individuals will see this as an opportunity to establish systems that acutely quantify the impact of their campaigns in an ever-changing media landscape.
Armed with these metrics, marketers can demonstrate not only how resourcefully they’re capable of working, but how effective their tactics are at driving business results today and in the long term.
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