We use a number of different tools at the Washington Redskins to help oversee our digital data and create actionable insights on web, social media, and beyond. One of those tools is TrackMaven, a social media monitoring tool. I’ve worked with them for as long as I’ve been with the team and I can honestly say they make my job easier by the moment.
Every year, they host a conference called Spark, where they bring together many bright minds from the digital marketing space to explore the realms of data-driven creativity. I have been able to go the last three years and each year, I have come away with something new. This year was no different.
Here are six analytics and digital marketing takeaways I got out of Spark 2017. It was a fantastic experience and I hope to take what I learned with me every day when I go back to work.
1. Be Careful When Integrating Data Into Your Marketing Processes
It is a must to integrate the numbers and results in your digital marketing strategy. That’s a given. But if you are just starting to do that within your organization, it can be a large burden to bear. There can be a lot of data to process, lots of potential actions that can be taken, and the parties you’re sharing the data with might not completely know what everything means.
This came up during the “Putting Insights Into Action” panel, featuring Angelo Sasso of Leading Hotels. As the Senior Director of Analytics & Insights, he is in charge of a team of analysts that all serve different roles. Some specialize in certain areas of expertise while some are a jack-of-all-trades and help in the interpretation and implementation. Their job is to make data “safe, fun, and easy.”
As a result, check all of the boxes. Standardize your KPIs to make sure that goals are unified across the board. Make sure stakeholders are familiar with how the data is collected and that the analytics team works hand in hand with them. Get everyone on the same page and don’t bite off more than you can chew too early on.
2. Be Empathetic to Your audience in Your Reporting of Data
One of my biggest struggles as a digital analyst is reporting too much. My Excel files can have too many rows and tabs, presentations can have too many slides, the data can be too micromanaged, and my regular reports can be too detailed. Also, especially in my initial stages of my job, my reporting was hard to interpret or I did not send all of the right information. This is a common problem for analysts.
This came up during the third keynote of the conference, featuring Ari Bevacqua of the New York Times. In her panel, where she discussed turning “data into insights into action,” she discussed how the Times distributes and shares data. Her team has daily morning meetings that are aligned & structured to common goals. When reports are sent, they are sent when convenient for the receiving party in a way that they can understand.
As a result, tailor your results to your audience. Don’t cherry pick and keep key pieces hidden just because they might not fit a narrative. Make your results clear and can help the key stakeholders make the best decisions they need. An analyst’s job is to make sure not only they understand data, but those on the receiving end do. Prepare reports clearly and make sure that it keeps the audience engaged from start to finish. One of my biggest goals over the next few months is to fix doing just that.
3. Use Data to Unlock Creativity
We’re driven by numbers. Certain metrics can put up blinders as to painting a complete picture. Yes, we have targeted KPIs and certain metrics we want to target and assess goals by, but there are other metrics that can enhance what we create.
This came up during the second keynote of the conference, featuring Ross Martin and Kern Schireson of Viacom. During their conversation, they mentioned how in the entertainment industry, data is such a valuable insight when matching up certain entertainment & productions with audiences and advertisers. One of their biggest takeaways was not to let data hold you back, but to let it be an “Iron Man Suit.” Data-driven creativity is the perfect fusion of art and science.
As a result, look at the complete picture and see what can be done to enhance your content based on trends and results. Consumption rates, engagements, and viewer demographics can be important tools to growing what you do with your media. Also, be sure to not lean on the surface numbers such as “impressions”. Facebook experiences a Super Bowl’s worth of impressions every day, but the majority are often less than 2 seconds.
4. Try to Avoid “Platform Paralysis”
Too much of something in the business world can sometimes be a bad thing. Too much information or variables can overwhelm and oftentimes freeze what we do next. The same comes to the number of tools we have at our disposal. When analyzing results, so many tools and platforms are needed to paint the full picture but we often spend way too much time looking at them that no decisions get made.
This came up in the first keynote of the conference, featuring TrackMaven CEO Allen Gannett. While speaking, he mentioned that marketers spend, on average, 24% of their work week analyzing data. For an average 40-hour work week, that’s 10 hours. While I am blessed to be in a position that can focus on data for 100% of my work week, the average marketer cannot. If it’s possible for that time to be cut down at all, it can help make the work week more efficient.
As a result, prioritize. Be smart in your investments. Marketers use an average of 7 tools when analyzing data. Keeping that number as low as possible and finding a way to pool together streams to make more effective conclusions is key. Tools like TrackMaven are examples of some that can enhance decisions across multiple channels. Do your research.
5. Set Goals & Streamline Communication to Succeed in Social Media Strategy
Clear communication is key when devising a marketing strategy. Goals from the start that are defined but flexible so as to adjust for cultural changes in real time need to be universally understood. A clear message with focus across platforms makes things easier to deliver on internally.
This came up during the “Social Data At Scale” panel, featuring Rochelle Stewart of Conde Nast. In it, she specifically focused on Facebook and Instagram and talked about how they created a “social media center of excellence” thanks to consistent content delivery strategies on both platforms. Ideas such as fighting the algorithm and creating a consistent brand strategy come from the top down and need to be spread across your team.
As a result, create a center of excellence to empower your social team. Keep your goals flexible with the ever-changing metrics of success. Share knowledge across the board. Celebrate your wins whenever they come. Be more efficient in meetings as “communication isn’t enough.” Efficiency is so key when it comes to executing on your social strategies and the strategies presented would help immensely.
6. Avoid the Major Content Marketing Mistakes to Enhance the Sales Process
Content marketing is a very valuable asset to the success of your business, from SEO to sales. According to studies, 70% of the sales process is already completed before the initial conversation between salesperson & prospect. And there are many potential mistakes that can hurt your bottom line and can be avoided.
This came up during the “7 Mistakes During Your Content Marketing” panel, featuring Kristin Kovner of K-Squared Strategies. In her panel, she laid out eight (not seven) common mistakes in content marketing, such as creating content in just one format or confusing your product with your purpose. Content marketing is used to tell the story of your brand and get others emotionally invested in what you do.
As a result, spend time and effort into your content marketing. Use the right keywords in your SEO. Invoke emotion into your content and make sure it is not too pushy in the sense of sales. Never forget your purpose as you can use that as a way to create community through blogs or social content surrounding your mission. And don’t think small. “There are no low-interest categories, only low-interest ideas.”