Making The Case for Unified Digital Reporting

Making The Case for Unified Digital Reporting Mari Frances Bentvelzen Blogger Extraordinaire Simply Measured

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“So what?” We’ve all cringed at this question before.

It’s not really something that we’re programed to love hearing, whether from a parent, sibling, friend, or coworker. The “so what,” is often seen as a negative response when we think we’ve done things really well – and it can be, if we aren’t prepared to answer that question. When we hear “so what?” we naturally go into defense mode, and that often keeps us from answering the question behind “So what?” – why?

In today’s digital marketing world, where things move quickly and minutes mean lifetimes, where tweets, posts, and comments are the currency exchanged between consumer and brand, the focus on now has almost overtaken the focus on results – and that’s scary.

As CMOs and CDOs are looking to their digital channels to deliver increasing return for their dollars invested, being able to do the little things right in the moment is just part of the story. The other part, the part that keeps digital marketers top of mind and in line for those dollars is being able to show the value and impact of digital marketing efforts, and that takes smart reporting and analytics.

That’s really why I joined Simply Measured. After working in social and digital for years, I was ready to do something that helped solve the problem I ran into at each agency – the fact that reporting and analysis were largely manual, tedious tasks that took too much time and didn’t leave our teams enough time to look at the “why”.

I worked with teams of great data people and analysts, and I’m sure they’d all tell you they spent a lot of time performing tasks related to reporting that could have been made much, much easier.

When we can free analysts up to actually focus on what drove rises and dips in key metrics, marketers benefit from more-useful insights – something that helps drive learning forward and speeds up iteration.

Turning Guesses Into Understanding

If you could spend 10 percent of your budget on figuring out which pieces of your digital marketing experience — let’s say social for this argument — were driving increased basket size in your online store, you’d do it right?

Some would argue that money would be better spent on paid media or content creation, but how do they know? Without actually building a reporting structure that can link together content and end-action, those suggestions are only looking at part of the data.

This isn’t usually something the social media team is looking at, even at some of the larger brands out there, but it will be.

Digital spends aren’t getting smaller – they’re growing quickly. That said, there’s an increased focus on digital to show ROI, mostly because things are actually trackable – but only if you build the systems to capture and connect the data… and thats where things get fun.

If you’re a brand working in digital or social today, chances are you’re dealing with multiple vendors:

  • Your social content management/publishing tool (Hootsuite, Spredfast, Shoutlet, etc.).
  • Your web analytics tool (Google Analytics, Omniture, Coremetrics, etc.).
  • Your email tool (Mailchimp, Exact Target, etc.).
  • Your customer service software (Desk, ZenDesk, etc.).
  • Many other possibilities (mobile, display, etc.).

Most of these different tools are helping out at a certain stage in the funnel, but some span multiple funnel portions, making attribution and best practice discovery somewhat of a heavy task.

While many of these tools are really great at certain aspects, the “one tool to rule them all” idea is still a ways off – even those companies pushing toward that goal are seeing the gaps in their integrations. What can be done, though, is bringing the data and connections between those tools together in a way that creates common reporting and knowledge sharing – and that’s where I’d say Simply Measured can make a difference.

The Difference Between Predicting and Reporting

Take this scenario: You’re a clothing retailer. Your social team is awesome. They’re constantly cranking out a ton of content, because they aren’t quite sure how to combat Facebook’s dropping organic reach. They’re working in real-time — heck they’re working in the future, trying to predict real-time.

You pass a colleague from the Web team in the hall one day and hear her comment to her boss “I’m not sure why, but the traffic from social to the Web store is dropping.”

You quickly take a left to avoid the convo and head back to your desk, then it hits you… you’re not really sure why traffic to the web store from social is dropping; you’ve been worrying about that organic reach! You go back and look at your latest posts and they’re all doing relatively well, so it’s hard to tell what’s going on. You make a mental note to talk to your team about including more web store links in your posts at your next meeting.

But what if this happened instead: You’re a clothing retailer. Your social team is awesome. They’re creating the exact right kinds of content. They’re only mildy worried about organic reach. They’re planning for the future and doing so based off reports from last week.

You pass a colleague from the Web team in the hall one day and you hear her comment to her boss “I’m not sure why, but the traffic from social to the Web store is off the charts.”

You resist the urge to drop your famous “we’re gonna need a bigger chart” line and instead open up your laptop, bringing up your integrated Social + Omniture report. You pipe up. You tell your colleagues that your team has seen a rise in web store traffic when you post deal-focused content with pictures showing people wearing the pieces of clothing outside in the sun, and not just from fans, but from non-fans as well, since these posts are also the most-shared content type. Not only that, you tell them that your posts with paid media behind them using the same type of content deliver 3x the web traffic and double average basket size. Your colleagues high five you and make mental notes to increase your budget for social paid media.

Is this real life? Maybe. It’s certainly close to how things need to be approached. Granted, every company is different and the level of sophistication or maturity of social and web programs needs to be in line with this type of thinking, but connecting the dots between content performance on social and end action is closer than ever before.

By freeing up analysts and other team members to do what they do best – the great parts of their jobs – by automating and connecting disparate pieces of your marketing machine, you’re not only allowing your best performers to do their best work, but you’re providing a clear path to showing value now and down the road.