A marketing department that understands and optimizes processes and data utilization can significantly outperform one that does not.
If business success is built on learning from experience, then there is no better place for it than in the marketing department. Automation technology can accelerate, integrate, organize, and analyze the utilization of data to impact results, and as such is a great starting point for learning. However, I find that few marketing organizations have any KPIs or goals around learning or innovation.
These goals could be structured along these lines:
The first step is to have some discipline on your own data management, integration of channels, processes, and analysis of results. Once you know why you do what you do as a team (and who does what to whom), then, the testing of marketing campaigns helps improve those processes in order to focus more resources on the things that contribute to KPIs and ROMI.
It's always helpful to get data points from other marketers, even if they are not in the same industry. However, when you go outside to get insights, it can be frustrating. What someone did is usually an interesting story, but it can be hard to glean real value when a) you know that your own market or department structure is different and b) when you don't really know the back end that generated the results. This is the classic problem with case studies or many panels at industry events – they never seem to answer that one burning question that you really wanted to know. It's also the problem with best practices. I can tell you the "best" practices all day long, or you could read a good book. But they offer you little value if you can't apply those practices to your own business.
The trick may be to try to understand the approach and thought process driving the program, not just the results. Sure, it's great to know that a travel company got a 40 percent lift by doing subject line testing, but if I'm in the technology business and don't have e-commerce, then those results alone don't tell me anything helpful. However, if I understand that the subject line analysis was done with particular objectives; quarterly; by comparing keywords and length to open, click, and conversion analysis; and that it was part of a larger effort to optimize open rates…now I can start to apply that to my own business.
Applying the learnings (or best practices – which in an ideal world are just the aggregate learnings from a lot of different companies) is the fun part. This is where marketers get to be marketers – reviewing data, testing, poking holes in all theories, and expanding the scope of current programs.
"Most marketers want senior management to define the WHAT (objectives) and then allow the marketing team to manage the HOW (strategy and tactics)," says Ryan Sagan, solutions consultant for StrongMail. "This allows the marketing team to be creative in approach and to learn from data."
Ryan speaks from his own experience running the marketing database operations for a major hospitality company, as well as what he sees with marketer customers of the firm. As he and I were exploring this idea recently, we discussed a number of ways that marketers can glean insight from others in order to improve their marketing operations and data utilization. If the marketing department can be a strategic partner with the business unit, and not just a list taker, it allows the learning and optimization to happen in a more productive and meaningful way.
The basic way to assess your learning opportunity is to follow these basic steps:
That brings us back to learning from experience. A marketing department that understands and optimizes processes and data utilization can significantly outperform one that does not. What are you doing to generate and absorb learnings? How is your department structured to achieve success? Please share in the comments field below.
On the heels of a fantastic event in New York City, ClickZ Live is taking the fun and learning to Toronto, June 23-25. With over 15 years' experience delivering industry-leading events, ClickZ Live offers an action-packed, educationally-focused agenda covering all aspects of digital marketing. Register today!
Want to learn more? Join us at ClickZ Live San Francisco, Aug 10-12!
Educating marketers for over 15 years, ClickZ Live brings together industry thought leaders from the largest brands and agencies to deliver the most advanced, educational digital marketing agenda. Register today and save $500!
Stephanie Miller is a partner with brand and marketing technology strategy firm TopRight Partners, which helps customers use the technology they have today to do the marketing they want to do today and tomorrow. She is a relentless customer advocate and a champion for marketers creating memorable customer experiences. A digital marketing and CRM expert, she helps sophisticated marketers balance the right mix of people, process, and technology to optimize a data-driven content marketing strategy. She speaks and writes regularly and leads several industry-wide initiatives. Feedback and column ideas most welcome, to smiller AT toprightpartners DOT com or @stephanieSAM.
Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce
This Magic Quadrant examines leading digital commerce platforms that enable organizations to build digital commerce sites. These commerce platforms facilitate purchasing transactions over the Web, and support the creation and continuing development of an online relationship with a consumer.
Paid Search in the Mobile Era
Google reports that paid search ads are currently driving 40+ million calls per month. Cost per click is increasing, paid search budgets are growing, and mobile continues to dominate. It's time to revamp old search strategies, reimagine stale best practices, and add new layers data to your analytics.
June 10, 2015
12:00pm ET/9:00am PT