How to Use Data and Analytics to Choose Where to Invest Your Marketing Dollars

Posted by Justine Andrews on Wed, Nov 25, 2015

This blog post is about how to leverage your data and analytics team. Charlotte Jackson, Senior Manager Strategy and Analytics at Sapient Nitro, talks about how to use data and analytics to choose where to invest your marketing dollars.

“We need to cut budget by 50%, what can we eliminate?”  Quite a scary question, especially if it is asked of you in front of 20 colleagues within your industry. It was also a question a client going through a difficult transition asked me. The answer is never straight forward; the recommendation needs to fit their new budget constraints while providing the best return on investment and also minimize the ability of their competitor’s to conquest their customers.

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While most marketers are not facing such extreme decisions today, annually they have to decide budgets and how to allocate funds for the next fiscal year. Sometimes budgets are flat and sometimes they are down, all the while sales goals being more aggressive and usually increasing.  How to spend budget should not just be a Q4 conversation. This is a conversation that we should be thinking about year round, revisiting each quarter. 

In the example I provided, the client asked me directly, me the analytics person, and not their day to day account lead. Why? Well, the client wanted the decision to be data driven.  Leveraging data to validate the decision they were about to make gave the client the confidence that it was the right decision.  Beyond the data, I knew I needed to provide the “why”. The “why” can look beyond a program’s performance, for example, by showing how multiple programs roll up to the department’s goals and objectives and then up to the company’s goals and objectives.   Ultimately you have to look at the big picture.

Your analytics teams have the data and the expertise to guide the conversation and help make the decisions on what marketers should be investing in.  When the numbers and the story are brought into the conversation, whether it is for a program or a monthly review, it is going to put you in the best and most credible position to secure your marketing dollars.  It also allows you to make data driven decisions when you have to choose between investment opportunities for the year.   

If you do not have access to enough data to make an informed decision there are a couple of ways to obtain it.  First is A/B testing, a method that provides the opportunity to learn what works well.  More specifically, testing can be leveraged to find out if content or functionality changes will result in higher conversions without having to make a large initial investment.  It is important to define an annual testing strategy that has the flexibility to add in additional tests as needed.  

The second way to obtain insights to make an informed decision is to leverage best practices published by third parties or bring case studies from historical work to the table to support future work.  For example, functionality on the website may be yielding low performance for certain tools.  Bringing in best practices or case studies which explain why this happens with an estimated level of expected performance can guide the decision on whether or not to invest in that type of project. 

The next time you are looking at budgets or are asked where to invest funds, contact your analytics team. They will review past performance, A/B testing opportunities, best practices and/or case studies to help you make your recommendations. The best way to leverage analytics is to integrate your analytics team into your planning and strategy conversations early. They can provide you with guidance, metrics and resources needed for current or future investments strategies.

Topics: marketing, strategy, data, analytics