Chapter 5 - Be an Analyst - Uncovering the Truth
Arguably the best tool for bridging the crevasse between traditional/brand marketing and digital marketing is analysis.
Having spent more than a decade analyzing marketing performance with Adobe Site Catalyst, Google Analytics and other tools my first lesson in how little I knew about traditional marketing to the CMO was made apparent reading Avinash Kaushik's "Ocaam's Razor".
Kaushik is a Digital Marketing Evangelist for Google, co-Founder of Market Motive, author and one of the few marketers who gracefully educates both traditional and digital marketers. This particular post spoke to market share. This sounds ridiculously simple. It's not. I've seen few digital marketing plans that succinctly address the difference between traffic, share of voice and true market share. Leveraging tools such as comScore (though data can be wildly inconsistent) can help us bridge the gap between keyword and ranking data with market share data.
I've watched a digital marketer lose all credibility in the eyes of the CMO when he stated that the brand greatly increased market share with search optimization improvements. Though the data point was technically correct, traffic to the website increased during the course of the project, the brand market share hadn't moved that significantly. An investment in SEO and organic search was proven with the data but the statement (though it was innocently misleading) struck the CMO as purposefully misleading. These nuanaces are important and understanding the language of analysis from a traditional as well as digital perspective is imperative.
Combining analytics languages that originated in traditional and evolved with digital is tantamount to uncovering the truth both sides can agree upon early on. The passion and zeal of digital marketers who had seen first hand the powerful impact of strong organic search and paid media campaigns could quickly get lost in the realities of those managing a brand.
What was missing, and in many cases is still missing, is alignment between the owners of the brand and the owners of digital marketing strategies.
In one of my favorite examples during the process of discovery I could tell the stakeholders were only partially invested in our next steps. I asked question after question about the business and it's objectives. Finally I asked, "what percentage of your business comes from your website?" The answer was 1%. This very old, respected, successful and profitable company was understandably having a hard time investing in search and digital content as viable business building strategies especially considering how time and labor intensive the recommended strategies were.
Eureka! Now we understood the issue and could spend time educating around how search impacts brand discoverability and can even be seen as a defensive marketing move for a company that was used to the brand and its' respected reputation driving success.
Getting on the same page requires more than "coming to the table with all the stuff we can do for you". Digital marketers can be guilty of tunnel vision when it comes to prescribing next steps. Understanding the entire landscape of the brand, not just the website or digital assets in isolation, can help traditional and digital marketers create an integrated analytics approach that will add far more value and insight than efforts in isolation.
Sometimes it's the simple, single data point that moves the needle of prioritization. At a BrightEdge marketing conference, CEO Jim Yu shared an enormously impactful slide with a data point shared by one of their customers "SEO is a $3B channel". Enough said. When asked about the biggest frustration of sharing the value of Paid, Owned & Earned media with CMO's several marketers spoke of alignment on what's important.
Paid, Owned & Earned are complex ecosystems and it's perfectly understandable when CMO's want to understand how they're spending their budgets and how that impacts the business bottom line.
Rather than focusing on a single campaign, a single landing page a single keyword or single product performance leveraging data to better understand the top-level value of a channel is a great place to start and it helps drive the engagement from a myopic view of single-tactic focus to a more overarching plan for integrated success.