Peter F. Drucker famously said, “What gets measured, gets managed”.
And no, this is not just another article about being data-driven. It’s about being impact-driven.
Before FunnelGuard, our customers spent an average of about 20 hours a month manually aggregating data across their marketing and data tools to manage and report on their marketing operations. If you also spend too much time doing that kind of manual aggregation, this article will help you DIY a better system to streamline those day-to-day execution tasks nobody wants to do.
Data vs. Intelligence
Something I learned as an Intelligence Analyst in the Marine Corps, during the early days of the War on Terror, is that Data requires processing to become Information, which requires further analysis to become Intelligence. It’s actionable intelligence that drives operations, not just data alone. Becoming impact-driven requires that you have a clear understanding of your operational space and a fast analysis framework to understand the consequences of each development in real-time. Without the ability to quickly analyze what your data means, the lack of actionable intelligence will negatively impact your ability to hit objectives.
If you dump the contents of the Library of Congress, which contains more than 170 million items, in a football stadium there’s a lot of data and information there, but good luck finding intelligent meaning on a timetable that matters.
There is so much data produced in modern marketing that anything and everything, no matter how important, can become just another vanity metric simply because it’s drowned by a flood of data and misleading correlations.
And let’s get real, the only metric that really matters is revenue anyway. Especially now.
Identifying the problems that stand between you and your revenue is easier said than done. The marketing industry has been developing a ton of powerful data tools over the last decade. But if the system that supplies those tools with data is broken, you don’t stand a chance of using it well. And if you can’t efficiently dissect your digital marketing machine to pinpoint exactly where it’s breaking down the moment there’s a problem you won’t be able to make an impact on your bottom line. With so much noise polluting your awareness every day, you need a structured framework that makes it easy-peasy to focus on the signals that matter and do something about them quickly.
Let’s get into the framework
Together we’ll create a framework that lets you get more done, in less time, while saving more money, and making it obvious that you are an essential part of your team. We’ll do this by making a powerful new tool to increase your efficiency, impact, and visibility as the marketing mechanic that keeps the revenue machine running.
Truth Ain’t Easy
Taking the first step to a powerful Marketing Operation’s “Source of Truth” is hard. It takes planning and effort, but as they say, “if it was easy, everyone would do it”. It takes a lot of work, structure, and discipline to implement an effective marketing operation in the first place. It shouldn’t be a surprise that it will take a little more elbow grease to have visibility into every aspect of your tech stack along and across your customer journeys.
Today, we are taking the first step to bridge the gap between your capabilities and aspirations towards a clear operational picture. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Get Buy-In and Help
There are some difficult processes you’ll have to create and you may not have access to all the tools your organization uses. Throughout this process, make a list of your colleagues and stakeholders who will benefit from having faster context, clearer priorities, and better briefings when the machine breaks down and things need to get done fast. Make them your allies now and enlist their help to get the data or access you need. Teams and roles like Web developers and QA testers are natural allies if you pitch it right. With this “Source of Truth,” you will make their jobs easier by taking tickets off their plate and helping them easily prioritize marketing requests against the million other things they have to do. There’s still a chance that people will hoard, hide or protect the information, not respond with urgency, or take it for granted that you will just solve their problems when they drop fires in your lap.
Those people are why you need this “Source of Truth” in the first place. Help them see how it benefits them to get you the data you need. In the end, they’ll hit their targets and make their bonuses more easily too.
Make a Mental Model
To get started, think about and document what you already know about how your customers go through your journeys. Don’t get hung up on the details of how to document it. If you like lists, make a list. If you want to draw out a mind map, do that. Our goal here is to narrow down to a single representative journey that a typical customer would go through. A persona, if you will, for all the experiences you’ve created.
Now ask yourself, “What are the ad channels customers come from? What content sources bring them in? How many landing pages do they pass through to get to your call to action? What marketing automation or CRM platform do they go through?”
Make a quick list and/or mind map, then think through that representative journey structure and note all the systems, tools, and pixels that should be at each step. Then note whether you have the access you need to pull reports from those systems. If not, who does and can they grant you permission? This will help to create a framework for your journeys and identify where to go to get all the information you’ll need later.
Build a Framework for Your Truth
Here’s where the rubber meets the road. You’ll create a custom spreadsheet that can be as shallow or as deep as you want. Keep in mind that you can always go deeper when you have it up and running, but getting to something lightweight and functional adds value today. As a former boss and mentor once told me,
“70% of a solution on time is better than 100% too late.”
For our example in this series, we’re focusing on paid channels only, but you can extend the concepts to any traffic source with a little creativity.
- Create your ‘Customer Journey Map’ spreadsheet. This step is a little prep work that will come in handy later and will be the central reference point for your “Source of Truth”.
- Start this sheet with a column for seven data points we’ll pull from our Ad Channel reports in the next article.
d) Ad Group/Set
f) Ad Final URL
g) Ad mobile final URL
- Next, make a column for each step in the “typical” customer journey of the mental model you made earlier.
a) At FunnelGuard, our customers typically have 2–3 steps from Ad — Landing Page — Conversion page, etc. with a long flow being about six steps, we do see some even longer though.
b) You can always add as many steps as you need. Part of the insights you’ll get from this process is seeing how simple or complex your customer journeys really are.
- For now, we’re just starting with landing pages and follow-on pages down to your conversion points (Forms or Buttons), but if you wanted to you can keep going into your Marketing Automation and Sales flows in products like Marketo, Hubspot, or Salesforce.
- Later you may want to add all kinds of bells and whistles like conditional formatting and cross-linking data in cells to other sheets.
Strong Foundations Make Strong Buildings
Now you have a basic framework for plotting your customer journey maps. It will let you bring a wide range of data from the systems and tools you use into a single place for easy reference. Soon you’ll have a better picture of your marketing ops across channels with context into how they affect your KPIs and bottom line.
This is Just Beginning
We’re not out of the woods yet, but you do have a few new tools to help you get there.
- A simple mental model of how customers should go from browsing to buying along your journeys.
- The platforms, systems, tools, and pixels that are in operation across channels and where they are along the journey.
- A list of what you do and don’t have access to and a shortlist of what you need to get.
- A list of potential allies and ideas on how to win gatekeepers to your side.
- The bones of a framework for your Marketing Operations Source of Truth.
Congrats, you’ve taken the first steps towards having a “Source of Truth” to take your company’s marketing ops to the next level. In the next article, we’ll prepare our sources and gather the data we’ll need to create a clear view of your customer journeys.
Without a clear concept of operations and an efficient framework for identifying issues along customer journeys, you’re flying hopelessly blind. Not only are you trapped in a vicious, reactionary cycle of coming up with whack-a-mole solutions to last-minute crises, no one even sees how much work you do to put out all the fires that are dropped in your lap.
Investing in the time to create and manage this framework will make it easier for you to systematically improve and maintain your marketing ops, rapidly evaluate whether a mole is worth whacking, and visibly demonstrate the concrete value of your work. Without your “Source of Truth”, your colleagues and maybe even your boss may always have that nagging question in the back of their mind “what do they really do all day?”.
Or if you can’t spare the time to DIY, that’s what FunnelGuard is for ;)
Originally published on Medium.com