How to drive decision-making through upstream analytics
Editor's Note: The following is a guest post from Deren Baker, CEO of Jumpshot and Randy Antin, VP of marketing.
Spending on analytics is expected to skyrocket over the next three years, from 4.6% of budgets to nearly 22%. Despite this, marketers only use about one-third of the data they collect. As data becomes more critical to successful marketing, marketers must learn to parse usable data from fluff.
When I buy a car for my family, I want to know that it has seven seats and gets 32 miles per gallon. I don't care whether it goes from zero to 60 miles per hour quickly. All those data points might be accurate, but if they aren't relevant to my interests, I don't need them.
Marketing data works the same way. As companies' customer relationship management, or CRM, data becomes more robust, including points such as purchase history, GPS data and browsing activity, it's not a question of whether the data is there but of which parts of it to use. The answer to that question depends on which programs marketers run, what they can integrate and how they perform.
The importance of upstream analytics
Web analytics solutions such as Adobe and Google are valuable, but they don't provide complete views of consumer activity. Because they restrain themselves to last-click attribution, the customer engagement funnel is limited to a single step prior to the customer's visit to the marketer's website. For direct response programs, this is enough, but other initiatives need more information.
Enter upstream marketing. Using upstream analytics, marketers can track the customer journey across multiple websites to bring clarity to the funnel process. Upstream analytics works the same way as desktop and mobile tracking: Data science teams use algorithms to look at a user's browsing history to see all the steps he or she took during a specific time frame before visiting a website, filling out a form or taking another specific action a company identifies as important.
Upstream analytics might at first sound like a branch of people-based marketing, but it's more of a prelude. Upstream is focused on a device aggregate level and aims to understand what many customers do so marketers can determine new places to focus their efforts. It constitutes the background steps necessary to successfully begin people-focused marketing.
Using upstream analytics, companies can determine how customers are moving from engagement to interest to purchase. So much effort — not to mention money — goes toward interacting with consumers across social media, yet so few companies fully understand that customer journey.
Google released Google Attribution in May to address this issue for its own advertisers, but reviews are mixed. Although improved attributions on Google-related channels can be useful, other programs still require unbiased upstream analytics to understand their usefulness.
Implementing smarter data
Performing a deep dive into how users are engaging with your brand isn't valuable if you can't apply what you've learned to other programs and parts of your business. If you're unsure how to begin leveraging upstream analytics into better campaigns and higher ROI, try starting with these three strategies:
1.) Understand earned media influence
Rarely does a customer read an article about a company in the news and then click a link in the article to buy a product. The journey is far more nuanced.
Upstream analytics allow CMOs to understand not only what domain customers have visited along their purchase journey, but also the specific pages within those domains. For example, if a PR department achieved MSNBC coverage for a new loyalty program, upstream analytics could tell the company how many customers made the journey from that story to a converted sale, regardless of whether they clicked any links.
2.) Isolate individual channels
In this age of social media obsession, consumers are not only engaging with brands across multiple channels, but they also expect those brands to have a presence everywhere. For many companies, though, the resources necessary to maintain an active presence on every available channel just isn't feasible.
Fortunately, using upstream analytics, marketers can not only identify successful content, but also drill down to see which channels and influencers use that content most effectively. By optimizing content streams, companies can spend less money on low-interest channels and increase their overall marketing ROI.
3. Form competitive responses
Upstream analytics extend to the competition as well, allowing marketers to track where competitors are succeeding and identify opportunities to disrupt that flow.
Most marketers already know how their competitors are messaging and what they're promoting. Upstream analytics provide the opportunity to go one step further, identifying the customer segments where competitors are weak and using that information to execute informed, targeted disruption campaigns.
Don't waste time on data you don't need, and don't let competitors understand your customer journey better than you do. By focusing on upstream analytics, you can increase your ROI, better understand your marketing channels and optimize your data usage to stay a step ahead of the pack.