4 Steps to ‘Close the Loop’

Has this happened to you… You suggest integrating your web analytics, CRM, and marketing automation sources together. Your IT team promises to have it ready “in a few years.”

You grind your teeth because you know you need to optimize digital marketing programs based on what’s really driving revenue rather just “front-end” metrics like visitors or registrations.

There’s obviously no one-size-fits-all approach or tool to close the loop – you have to look closely at your company’s particular situation and requirements. But, to de-mystify this project, let’s go through four common steps.

1. Define Requirements & KPIs

Define the goals, stakeholders, and team to get the work done. This will include your marketing, sales, IT, and web dev teams and likely a third-party vendor. You’ll also identify the source systems: a CRM such as Salesforce.com, a web analytics system such as SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics, and perhaps a call center or other line-of-business technology.

  • Determine reporting requirements, goals, KPI
  • Identify source systems and data stores (CRM & Web Analytics at a minimum)
  • Mock up reporting, dashboard, and presentation layout

2. Design & Build Data Model

Build a data model to house all the data behind the KPIs you just defined. You’ll define the key data fields and keys and the transformations that need to occur from the source systems into your target system.

  • Identify key data fields and transformations
  • Identify target datastore and data model
  • Create field-to-target mapping


3. Develop ETL Integrations

Now you actually build the programs and scripts to move data from the source systems into the target systems. You’ll also build various scripts and programs to transform, and calculate data, and build your KPIs in the target system. IT requirements will come into play here because you’re dealing with systems across the enterprise.

  • Write scripts to extract / de-dupe / load to target
  • Write scripts to check and validate data

4. Build & Distribute Dashboards

This is where it all comes together with reporting (and ongoing analysis). You’ll build dashboards and analyze reporting that ties front-end marketing activity with actual revenue.

  • Develop report server
  • Build dashboard presentations
  • (Naturally, at this point you’ll be doing on-going ad hoc analysis as well)

Bottom Line

The work to close the loop isn’t trivial, but it doesn’t have to be a boil the ocean, seven figure exercise either. With the right partner and/or internal team, you should be able to execute this project in three months for under $100,000. As the simple drawing above shows, you’ll be able to use closed-loop insights to deeply optimize programs based on what’s really driving revenue and thereby see a strong ROI on this project.

Related reading

Digital marketing strategy for business
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