Analytics ROI: The Evidence for Investing in your Data

Nearly every modern enterprise is collecting volumes and volumes of data. Terabytes of the stuff.

Meanwhile, they are also spending large volumes of money with the simple goal of getting more money back at the end of the day.

But will they actually?

Across our client engagements, we often talk to major companies about their sizeable investments in the tools that slice and dice, analyze visualize, activate, and predict. Despite a willingness to invest, many marketers struggle with the idea that these initiatives will actually yield meaningful ROI for their business.

And they’re not alone. According to the August 2015 results from “The CMO Survey,” spending on marketing analytics will grow from 6.7% of total marketing budget to 11.1% in the next three years. Meanwhile, in that same report, they state that only 31% of marketing projects use available marketing analytics to make decisions. 

With this disparity in mind, we recently underwent an analytics reality check where we reviewed our major client accounts to understand whether we were achieving what we promised. We looked across a variety of business goals including revenue, percent of lift, efficiency, insights generated, media attribution, and allocation.

Without disclosing specifics, here are real-world examples of programs that our clients have undertaken in 2015:

  • Site search key keyword optimization
  • Performance evaluation of varying content items/subjects on target audience performance
  • Funnel reports to evaluate product adoption/usage and engagement
  • Top 20/Quarterly Top 150 Page analysis to identify key strategic pages
  • End-to-end design and implementation of data processing on 70,000+ conversions every month resulting in much more accurate data for the client, as well as a significantly richer dataset for analysis
  • Design and implementation of a process for automatically producing a reversal file for affiliate marketing campaigns
  • Tag Management Implementation and automation
  • Reduction of repetitive analysis through automation
  • Audience Acquisition Intelligence
  • Campaign Effectiveness
  • Content Performance Analysis
  • Conversion Funnel Diagnostics
  • Analytics Operations
  • Media attribution
  • High value online action analysis for offline buying behavior

Performance of these programs have resulted in the following sample client results:

  • $1.1M additional revenue based on testing recommendation
  • 48% lift in certain content engagement (statistically significant)
  • 39% increase in primary KPIs since January 2015
  • $1M+ budget reduction because of data-driven strategy shift
  • 50% reduction in insight delivery time to business stakeholders
  • 100 hours saved from report automation
  • 40% lift through A/B testing

Specific Takeaways

If you’re investing in new tools and struggling justifying your returns, we suggest thinking about the following as 2016 ramps up:

  1. When investing in a new analytics technology, budget at least 2X the tool cost for people to support it in the first year.
  2. Hire experts to configure/deploy the tool the right way the first time—even (maybe especially) if the tool is considered “turnkey”
  3. Spend time building your internal analytics capability (people & process) for competitive advantage
  4. Look for early high visibility wins to fund long-term investments and build organizational equity for your analytics initiatives

For more information on leveraging your analytics investments to drive insight and action at your organization, please contact me at mzell@merkleinc.com

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