Saturday, August 27, 2011

Upright and Locked Position

In a previous post about agency relations I mentioned a survey that was co-sponsored by Deloitte and the CMO Council.  The main finding of the survey was that organizations are trying to make sense of the vast amounts of data available.  Another finding that was slightly shocking to me - marketing executives are basically scared of the internet and its data.  It is increasingly difficult to integrate online and offline sales figures.  It is harder to customize the customer experience and glean meaningful data from it.  Overall, business is harder these days.

I am willing to argue that it doesn't have to be that hard.  Having the right amount of data is the key to successfully running a business.  Using analytics to make informed decisions will go a long way.  Additionally, there are a variety of ways to combine online and offline data, all through the same software package.  The real difficult part is ensuring that all of this is set up properly, and that you are collecting the data that you need.

In my spare time I am a bit of an airplane nerd.  I will take a flight for fun; aviation is generally interesting to me.  You can imagine my elation when, a few years back, I was given the opportunity to work on some search campaigns for a recently-merged airline.  I dove into this project with enthusiasm and I really wanted to impress the client.

To say that I left an impression is an understatement.  Over the course of the project we learned that the third-party analytics software was a complete mess.  Even though the pre-merger airlines had the same brand of analytics software on their websites, something got lost in the union of the two.  It seemed that no one bothered to adjust the implementation to account for the new flow and booking engine.  Depending on what kind of report was being looked at, my campaigns were either insanely successful or barely breaking even.

Ultimately, the client cancelled the engagement with my agency, and my dream campaign was over.  Thankfully the rationale was not a reflection on me and the work that I did.  Ultimately, the client just could not tell how it was performing at all.  They did not want to invest money in a venture that they could not prove as profitable. That stung, but it made sense from a business standpoint.

What does not make sense about this example is how often this scenario is repeated.  Many client organizations have incorrect, incomplete, or otherwise 'damaged' analytics platforms.  Just like a website will need routine maintenance and optimization, so too does the analytics platform.  If data is so important to any company in today's climate, why not at least give yourself a fighting chance?

The marketing executives of many top companies have recognized that data and analytics are worth investing in for the near future and the long term.  Why then, are companies still risking their business and that of their marketing partners by not actually making these investments?  No one knows for sure whether my search campaigns for the airline client were as successful as the one report suggested, or if they were barely scraping by as the other report showed.  The only thing we know for certain is that the airline missed an opportunity to grow their business and my agency missed an opportunity to grow a long-term relationship with the airline.  With a better eye on analytics, and with more attention being paid to the proper implementation, things may have turned out very differently for both organizations.

No comments:

Post a Comment