Everyone has access to data. Most can read it; some can even make assumptions from it. But very few can build on their data in a timely, relevant, and profitable manner.

The people in these cases may have too much data or be looking at the wrong metrics. Perhaps they put too much stock in the wrong data sets or simply don’t quite understand their customer journey. In these cases, there’s probably something fundamentally wrong with how they are running their marketing efforts.

Setting up your digital marketing analytics to provide actionable insights is critical. You can avoid that spiral of misunderstanding, frustration, and underperforming right from the start — if you focus on the actionable insights that your data can provide. 

How can companies do this?

Know What and Where You Need to Look At

The first step to setting up appropriate digital marketing analytics is to identify what you need to analyze. This varies by industry and business and encompasses all your digital marketing efforts. It’s important to keep this in mind as some people consider their website analytics to be the be-all, end-all.

It’s important to note that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. But with that being said, let’s take a look at three different companies and what digital marketing analytics they may be looking at.

  • An online store
  • A small freelance marketing agency
  • A mid-size software company

In the first example, the digital marketing analytics that provide actionable insights would include such things as look-to-buy ratios, Facebook ad click-through rates, leaky buckets (where people leave your website), and other related analytics. 

For a small freelance marketing agency, the ratio of downloads of their free offer to schedule a demo and the ratio of demos to sales are probably much more valuable metrics than their social media engagement metrics.

The mid-size software company is playing a very different game altogether. Their email campaign, cold call, website engagement, and direct sales metrics are just some of the channels this company may be pursuing as opposed to social media platforms.

In each of these cases, the metrics they look at may be similar, but they are not the same. The key takeaway is that each company needs to discover what and where the best analytics are for their situation.

Measure the Right Marketing Channels

After you know where you need to gather your data from, the next challenge is to set up and measure those channels. Let’s split these into two separate categories and see how a great setup makes measuring much easier.

Setting Everything Up

There are two common mistakes that many marketers make during this phase: not setting channels up deliberately and working with the wrong channels altogether.

The first mistake typically occurs when a marketer adopts a “spray and pray” approach. This antiquated marketing tactic involves doing multiple things (generally at random) and hoping something will stick.

The second mistake stems from not understanding where leads and customers are coming from and blindly mimicking competition without understanding the “why” behind their methods.  

Other than that, setting everything up is relatively simple. It’s time-consuming but simple nonetheless.

Measuring the Channels

The next step is to measure your channels; most automated systems will do this. The trick is figuring out how best to pull it all together. Like how a conductor of an orchestra ensures everyone and everything is on the same page, someone will always have to manage the levers for your various channels.

After these channels are set up and measured, it’s time to move into setting up your reporting system so that the data that flows through the channels is visible and actionable.

Set Up Your Reporting System Accordingly

In this phase, you need visibility, visibility, and more visibility. Your reporting system, no matter what it is or what it does, must offer clear, concise, and quality reporting. These reports also need to provide the data that you want to analyze. It’s all very well to see exactly how many people liked your Facebook Page posts, but does that provide actionable insights into how you can improve your marketing?

Unlike the other steps or phases, it’s harder to give general advice on reporting systems. Don’t be afraid to try out different ones, particularly if they offer free demos. Some systems can also work very well together. But, remember to always keep the focus on visibility!

Even if you use one system for everything (which is very rare), the analytics will still need to be cross-connected and correlated to obtain the most accurate insights. Some of this work will probably have to be done manually.

It’s also good to note that complexity can be very overrated and a sign that you haven’t found the right channels yet. When you keep it simple, it’s easier to instantly see the data and discover the insights that you’ve been looking for during this process.

Take Action — But Don’t Forget to Tweak and Adjust

Beginner’s and fool’s luck are two wonderful and mysterious things. However, they cannot be measured or relied on in the long term or in a scalable and repeatable plan. Barring extremely good fortune, the last step in setting up your digital marketing analytics is to tweak and adjust the groundwork you’ve laid so that you can act on the insights your data offers you.

For example, you may find that some channels don’t work for you, such as Google AdWords. Maybe Facebook is not where you need to be, and your LinkedIn page needs to go back to a static page that leads people to your website. Maybe your landing pages need an overhaul, or your website needs to be expanded or revamped.

When digital marketing analytics are set up correctly, they become a powerful tool in your marketing arsenal. They provide insight into your customer journey and the experience that people have with your marketing. It allows you to show company leadership why things are not working and how the company can pivot. And more importantly, digital marketing analytics enables you to make the right changes to your business that are backed up with reliable data.