"The key thing to remember is that the campaign mentality of marketing does not work in the digital world. What does work is iterative marketing. Marketers need to become far more agile and get used to the idea of testing and learning and iterating quickly and do their best to move their organization in a way that helps them build budgets and teams that way. Otherwise it's just way too complicated and we'll never be as successful as we could be."
So spoke Marko Mueller from Webtrends a few days ago on another great episode of DM Radio, hosted by Eric Kavanagh and myself. Marko also has blogged on the topic and if you're asking yourself about Web analytics, you might want to have a look.
We've also been thinking about the Web analytics mindset, and I can say for a fact that many more companies are coming to believe that digital marketing can move the needle on our businesses.
But marketers, as we know, don't always have an environment to think and work this iterative way. Instead, metrics tend to judge our latest performance more than our learning.
'Hey, our marketing budgets are frozen, and what we've always done is all we have time to continue to do until we get some help, right?'
On our show, Rob Rose, an advisor and researcher who runs an outfit called Big Blue Moose generalized this status quo.
"A lot of the [marketing] world perceives Web analytics as a hammer with which I will prove something to my boss to show I am doing a good job," Rose said. "That makes [digital marketing] data a big scary thing. If the graph isn't going up and to the right every day then I'm not doing my job well and I fear getting fired."
And over time, marketers become selective about the analytics they use, and they tend to present the metric that's most likely to work in their favor. They're tracking the wrong way or they don't want to look at a particular set of data. They are wrongly using analytics as what Rose calls a Weapon of Mass Delusion just to prove to the CFO that they deserve their budget. Worst of all, they are not learning to apply insight to action.
Bravo to Rob for saying so, and for saying that, in the real world, we are going to fail with our marketing analytics, and that failure will give constructive insight because our Web analytics tool will help us understand why we failed.
This kind of thinking speaks to political truth but also the realization that we can't not confront what's increasingly visible to us through Web analytics, complex though it may be.
When we relaunched DM Review as Information Management 20 months ago, one of the things we said aloud was that we needed to look at Web analytics as the new high ground of marketing and in many and varied ways that is more true today. Your CFO is not going to disagree in principle, so listen to this DM Radio show on a bit of your own time and think about what it means to your future.
If we are truly pulling the levers we have access to that can move our business, if we are honestly following our core mission and "doing what we are trying to do" as Eric Kavanagh recounted from a previous employer's advice, then we ought to be paying specific attention to the insights in our analytics that can drive us to change behavior favorably, and not just panic or party by our metrics.