Ep. 110 | How to Create a Successful Analytics Reporting Process

Every marketer wants to better track, analyze and report on their marketing and business metrics. But with data points everywhere, how do you get create a successful analytics reporting process?

In this episode of the Rethink Marketing podcast, we talk with Phil Bosley, founder and CEO of Tactical Marketing Automation, about the number one metric he tracks inside of Act-On, as well as the three D’s to creating a successful analytics reporting process: define, document, and develop.

Phil is a returning guest to the podcast. He has previously talked to us about the Fundamental 3, the three things you need to do to be successful with your marketing automation. Tactical MA is a digital marketing firm that specializes in the marketing automation use case and, specifically, the use cases for Act-On.

“On any given day, we are implementing software, we are designing out strategic initiatives, and then we’re executing on those strategic initiatives using the latest and greatest in marketing technologies,” Bosley said. “And always driving towards one goal and that’s creating new business for our customers.”

Picture of Phil Bosley for the Rethink Marketing podcast where he talks about setting up an analytics reporting process

The Fundamental Three Refresh

Nathan: We’ve chatted in the past about the importance of the Fundamental Three for your marketing automation platforms. Can you refresh our memories about what those three are and why they are important to your business success?

Phil: Absolutely. One of the things I did when I used to work at Act-On was a big data study on what are the things that make and Act-On customer successful. And overwhelmingly, we identified three specific and, honestly, pretty basic features of Act-On that every customer should do. And when these are done, the reported success with the application just skyrockets.

The three were:

  1. Email: The first is that you should be sending emails to at least 20 percent of your database every single month.
  2. Forms: The second and most commonly overlooked was integrating your web form process. Many Act-On customers are using forms on their website, but they’re using gravity forms or some other form tool in their website experience. That’s great but you should absolutely be connecting those web forms, integrating those web forms, with Act-On or using Act-On forms. It’s a major foundational piece of the equation that when missed can really hamstring your effectiveness.
  3. Beacon: The last one is deploying the Act-On tracking beacon. Act-On, and all marketing automation, really is designed to respond to the interactions you have in your ecosystem. The beacon allows Act-On to track that activity on your website. Making sure you’ve got that beacon deployed is huge in your Act-On success.
Image quote about the importance of defining what you need to know in your analytics reporting process

What do you think are the most important analytics you can track within Act-On?

Nathan: You can’t really do inbound marketing or any marketing without those the fundamental three. So, assuming our listeners have the fundamental three in place. Let’s now talk about analytics. What do you think are the most important analytics you can track within Act-On?

Phil: In my opinion, the single most important metric in Act-On is your known visitor rate. It shows you the monthly traffic that Act-On is tracking. So, the number of unique cookies, of visitors that have come to the site and been tracked by Act-On. The next metric is the known visitor percentage. The known visitor percentage is the percentage of your website traffic that Act-On knows who this is. They’ve either clicked on a link in an e-mail at some point in their history and Act-On learned to associate their email address with that web activity, or they’ve submitted a form and with that form submission, Act-On’s associated that web activity with that email address as well. Either of those two things happens and you have a known visitor. Commonly, Act-On users only have about 3 to 4 percent known visitors on their website.

And it’s just such a small fraction. And that either indicates that people just don’t like our marketing, or that we have huge gaps.

So, that’s the first most important metric because a good inbound strategy, a good content marketing strategy, should have at least 10 percent known visitors on a website. Of all the metrics in Act-On, that’s the very first one that I look at.

Nathan: If if the goal is 10 percent known visitor traffic, any guess on how many businesses are hitting that mark?

Phil: I consider [10 percent known visitor traffic] to be the minimum, viable, healthy rate. I would say the average is probably closer to 3 percent. This could due to failing to implement the Fundamental Three or it could be a poor content strategy.

If you don’t have an effective content marketing strategy; that is, all of your website is a brochure and you’re just hoping people submit the Contact Us button. Then that’s where you see that rate really really low. And that’s why, from a content marketing perspective, this is just the penultimate metric because if I’m doing a good job as a content marketer, then people are coming to my website, They are downloading my white papers, they are downloading my infographics, they are engaging with my gated content strategy and that’s creating known visitors.

And the unfortunate reality is either due to limitations in the strategy or the improper use of the technology, that metric is so frequently in that 3 to 4 percent range.

In 2018, I’ve worked with nearly 500 different Act-On customers. And the very first metric that I checked in every account is known visitor rate, and it tells me right away where we need to focus on in the content marketing and conversion strategy.

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Any tips for making it easier to know what you need to track, analyze and report?

Nathan: We’ll have to talk about content marketing and conversion strategies in a future episode. With all these different metrics, do you have any recommendations for making it easier to make sense of what you need to track, analyze and report?

Phil: Yes and no. There is a way to make it easier. One of the things we do at Tactical a lot is just process consulting. Everybody wants to start with what are we going to do or what’s it going to look like. And we insist it has to start with the requirements.

And the first thing you should do if you’re looking to improve your analytics and reporting for your company is you should define ‘these are our reporting requirements.’ And that is usually the questions that we need to answer. Once you defined the questions that you need to answer with reporting, then you can start your documentation process. You can document, ‘This is the type of question we want to answer.’

For example, ‘Are our e-mails converting into new customers?’ Or ‘Are our cross-sell e-mails resulting in upselling cross-sell opportunities for our sales team?’

Now I just asked two different questions. One was are we generating revenue. The other is are we generating opportunities.

The way I measure those is going to be very, very different. So, you start to document out these are my questions, and then this is the type of report that I need to see that’s going to answer that question.

And this is how I get the data for that report. And once you’ve got that documentation built out, then you are now equipped to export data and analytics and invest in and configure a business intelligence tool. Because you’re not trying to do an ad hoc and guess along the way. You’re now making investments into reporting, into analytics, specifically to accomplish a well-defined goal. And if you take that approach – define, document and then develop – you’ll be far more successful than just trying to go ad hoc or even use your vendor’s native reports.

Who should be involved in documenting the process?

Nathan: Who should be involved in documenting the process and the questions you want answered with your analytics?

Phil: It is a great question. If you think about it, what we’re talking about are KPIs and performance metrics right?

The person who’s probably going to own this is likely your director of marketing. A director of marketing reports up to a CMO, or in many organizations directly to the CEO. The marketing director should be interviewing the executive level, the C-level, to ask them like, ‘when I report to you on what we’ve done, what do you want to see?’

It’s usually going to be revenue attribution type metrics. Those revenue attribution metrics are then going to beg the question, ‘OK, what kind of performance do we need to see? What kind of processes and performance do we need to see to get to those attribution metrics?’

So, the marketing team – the marketing director and the marketing managers – are going to sit down and they’re going to define out the marketing performance metrics that are required. And then those individual managers are going to say, ‘OK, what activities do we need to be doing to meet the goals set by our executive team? What activities do we need to be doing to meet the performance requirements set by our marketing management team? What do our worker bees need to be doing on a daily basis?’

And that’s how you define the marketing activity metrics. And those three levels of conversation are actually going to define the requirements for all three types of reporting in a marketing exercise.