Today’s workplace is the age of the expert. Businesses can employ experts on every topic under the sun, from legal experts to HR experts and yes, even marketing analytics experts.
With so many experts in the office, you may be wondering if you really need an expert consultant on your marketing analytics project.
Short Answer: Yes
This is where you are wrong. You do need an expert consultant – just not on marketing analytics.
Unless you’re working on a new product launch or relaunching your existing product, I would start off with someone more suited to write the Code of Conduct for your startup than an expert on marketing Data analytics.
Even if you are launching a new product or rebranding your existing brand, if the new product doesn’t touch the customer experience in some way, you’ll be better off recruiting someone who can help you navigate compliance issues and industry best practices down the road as opposed to someone whose expertise is in getting their data from one software system to another.
Specialists vs Experts
In certain instances, you may need a specialist. In most instances, you do not. The problem with bringing on a specialist is that you can easily fall down the rabbit hole of data analysis and never come out.
The difference between a specialist and an expert is that an expert usually has more experience looking at data from a higher perspective than a specialist does – i.e., he/she has seen this kind of stuff before, and they know how to navigate around potential discrepancies before they become full-blown problems.
In business today, especially in marketing, data is being collected from so many different places from the customer experience on your website to your stores to even the impression a potential prospect gets from seeing a bus wrap with your company’s logo on it. On top of that, a lot of data is also in a variety of formats – from spreadsheets to server logs and beyond – and you need someone who can physically navigate across all of these disparate sources of information.
You need an expert. Despite what some articles say about hiring generalists over specialists in business or even in technology, there will always be a place for specialists when it comes to solving problems.
It’s not the specialist vs. the generalist thing – it’s specialists vs. experts (i.e., data analysts) that needs to be addressed when investing in your marketing analytics consulting budget.
What Do Data Analysts Do?
Why can’t a consultant just become a data analyst?
The short answer is you have to have the right training and expertise to get from being a data analyst to being an expert on marketing analytics.
If you’re going to become a consultant or even a contract employee, then you need to find someone who is going to teach you the “why” behind all of this newfangled terminology that’s been trending in recent years.
Learning what data analysts do and then learning how to be a data analyst is like trying to learn the guitar and then learning how to be a musician: it just doesn’t work. The two things are completely different, and you’re going to miss the larger meaning behind the data if you don’t know how to use it.
Collecting Marketing Data
The first step in any marketing analytics project is to collect as much data as you can. This means logging every action on your website, on your store, and anything else that could possibly reflect a potential prospect’s interest in your brand.
As far as the data-collecting process goes, there are really two scenarios: one where you want to collect and consolidate everything and another where it’s more of a drill-down process where only specific pieces of data are relevant enough for you to analyze.
If you’re working with a company whose core competency is in collecting customer information across all channels, then you may be able to give them instructions on which pieces of data are relevant. As far as building a data management plan to consolidate this information, that’s up to you and the company’s expertise.
If you’re working on something more ad hoc with your marketing team, then you might be able to walk them through the process of putting together what data is most important for them. If they still can’t articulate what their needs are, then you’d be better off keying into the data that already exists rather than trying to collect it all yourself.
Using The Data To Inform Your Marketing Strategy
The second step in using data to inform your marketing strategy is to determine how to present the information in a way that’s relevant and easy for your core audience to digest.
This is where it becomes less of a “digital analytics” thing and more of a creative problem-solving project because you need to be able to visualize ideas in ways that not only make sense but also allow prospects and customers to easily see how these ideas apply in their day-to-day lives.
Remember: the analytics you collect and the insights you develop may not always be what everyone on your marketing team wants – but if the insights are accurate, they are what will help your prospects move forward with their purchase decision.
Analytics will help you move forward with your marketing strategy, but it’s important to remember that your core marketing team should be there every step of the way (they may not be, but they should).
You can’t simply rely on analytics to inform your strategy – you have to have that all-important human touch.
If you’re looking for someone who can teach you how to visually present findings in a way that people can understand – well, then it’s probably time for you to start looking for an expert.
Data Collection Concerns
The more data you collect, the more difficult it will be to wrangle. Here are some concerns that may come up when working with clients who want to move faster than you can go:
1. Data Management
You can’t manage all of the data your client wants just because they want it. If you have a client who’s going through a change of direction and wants everything at once, then you’re going to have a hard time giving them something they can use right now.
2. Data accuracy
When there’s a lot of data, sometimes it takes longer for an analyst to figure out what’s wrong with it. Data may be missing, it may be hard to understand, or there’s just too much of it!
Once the data has been cleaned up and organized, you still have to manage everything so that your client can work with it. This is where the reporting process becomes important: you need to be able to build reports and dashboards so that your client can take action and see whether their marketing investment and effort are paying off.
There’s a big difference between a computer that has a virus and a person who has a virus. If you’re going to work with sensitive data, then your best bet is to put the clunky, insecure computers in the back of the business and bring up those fancy new “cloud” servers you installed so you don’t have to worry about viruses.
How sensitive is the data? If you’re collecting sales data from prospects, then there’s a good chance that your client will be asking for it, but you need to make sure they’re treating it as if it were their own private information – because even though they might not be running a retail business with a cash register, that’s exactly what an online business is.
Data Asymmetry Risk
If you’re working with a client who doesn’t “get” big data and analytics, then there’s a good chance that they’ll think of their marketing analytics consultant as the guy or gal who knows how to use numbers to tell them what they already know about their customer base.
One of the most important things you can do as an expert in marketing analytics is to teach your clients how to use the data they’ve collected and start to show them how they can take action based on that information.
You should also be able to provide these clients with training and resources so that they could begin implementing these marketing decisions on their own.
Marketing analytics consulting is about getting the right data from the right sources at the right time for marketing strategy development.
This leaves data collection and management to you. You need to know how to collect, organize, cleanse, and present the data so that it’s useful for your client’s marketing strategy.
You also need to be able to help your client learn how to use that data in real-time so that they can get the most out of every campaign or campaign segment.
If you’re trying to get your client on board with analytics but they’re having trouble understanding how the data they’ve collected is useful (and what they can do with it), then you’re not doing them any favors by simply telling them “Use this particular algorithm”.