How to Bullet Proof Your Data & Analytics

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Everything marketers do should be grounded in accurate data. The following highlights the fatal flaws of misaligned marketing efforts based on bad data or poor campaign setup. It also covers red flags to look for with your campaigns along with a list of questions to use with your agency or internal team.

Signs you’ve got a data inaccuracy issue

When reporting is overly focused on media delivery and media cost you may have a problem. Any campaign that is tightly aligned with actual performance metrics, either ROI or ROAS for example, will not put as much emphasis on media costs since that is secondary to media value and overall campaign performance. 

If true media costs are higher, it should be because it’s delivering better performance. The same applies to media delivery metrics like CTR, CPC, impressions, etc. These are all secondary to the media placements that are working. When conversions are part of the campaign objective, these secondary metrics should have less importance.

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Where & how do data and analytics go bad?

Many signs can point to potential data inaccuracies when working with  marketing-based platforms like Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Google Analytics, etc. A few of the most common indicators are:

1.     Pixels or container scripts that are hardcoded on the website while also being implemented within a tag management solution like Google Tag Manager (GTM) or Tealium. This results in duplicate tracking and can skew your data. 

2.     Duplicate tag management container scripts on the website. 

3.     Improper configuration of the tag management script code (ex: located outside of the header tag). 

4.     Improper tag or trigger configuration within the tag management platform.

5.     Using a standard counter instead of a unique counter for conversions within certain ad platforms.

What is the fallout of campaign tagging done poorly or inaccurately? 

Improper tracking and attribution mean wasted money. Inaccurate reporting means campaign decisions are being made based on incorrect information. More importantly, campaign operations are less than optimal because decisions are being made based upon inaccurate information. As a result, media spend is applied where it shouldn’t be or taken away from places that should be expanded. More often than not the biggest impact is that brands are blind to the true impact of their marketing spend. This blindness leads to a loss of revenue and customers. 

When campaigns are set to run in an automated way with limited human analysis or intervention, that is a problem in and of itself. When campaigns are running fully automated,  they have to rely on strictly automated feedback signals to “optimize” campaign performance. This limits the ability of humans to catch oddities or subtle nuances of campaign performance issues. On top of this, inaccurate campaign data further exacerbates the problem leading to subpar campaign performance.

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Are you double or triple counting results?

How will you know?

The first sign that you may be double or triple counting performance is when campaign numbers look “too good to be true.” If you are seeing great CPA reporting for media yet the actual business is not increasing at a similar rate, it means what is being reported is likely not accurate in reality. This can mean that the report is showing “credit” and not “influence.” This essentially means that media is simply touching users who were likely to convert anyway, or it means there is duplication and over counting leading to inflated numbers.

The best way to identify if you are double or triple counting is to complete an in-depth audit on all existing platforms being utilized for current data and analytics purposes. Since there are several ways to make a mistake, your safest option is to dedicate the time for auditing and QA. A good rule of thumb is to QA twice and launch the campaign once.

Red flags to be aware of

The following highlights indicators that can lead to potential problems with campaign setup and performance. These will ultimately impact data and campaign analytics accuracy.

o If the media planners and buyers or agency simply haven’t engaged with a brand deeply on analytics, it is likely that it’s not being done well. In order to run good campaigns, quality time must be spent on analytics which requires meaningful interactions between the brand and the team running the campaigns. Discussions should revolve around the customer journey and the touchpoints along the way. If media buyers or the agency have not engaged a brand much or at all, this a BIG red flag.

o Brands should not assume analytics are being done well. They should insist on being informed. The campaign tagging strategy should be clear to both the agency and the brand. Too many times we see that campaigns were never properly setup, which can only happen if there are no checks and balances.

What’s the impact of poorly executed or inaccurate campaign tagging?

The following are common issues relating to inaccurate or poorly executed campaign tagging:

·      Poor or lower ROI, ROAS and ultimately revenue.

·      Inaccurate business decisions based on tarnished data. 

·      Poor ad channel optimizations based on incomplete or inaccurate data.

·      Inaccurate reporting and insights, which leads to the inability to optimize future campaigns and ultimately meet marketing goals and objectives.

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What can brands do?

What can brands do?

o   Consider the value of analytics when selecting and evaluating a media partner. Ask how the department is setup and run and make sure that analytics is a critical component of the process.

o   Don’t assume that pretty graphs or fancy dashboards automatically equal good analytics.  These are just graphic representations of the data. The data itself has to be accurate and well done.

o   Ask questions about analytics and pay attention to the reporting areas of focus.

o   Once you’re up and running, look at the trajectory of media reporting and actual sales or growth. Verify that they are trending similarly or at least showing some degree of correlation.

Questions to ask your agency or in-house team

The following are questions you can ask to get assurance that data and campaign tracking has been set up and is measuring performance accurately.

  1. What are the data sources for all tracking?

  2. How have pixels been setup to ensure proper firing?

  3. What testing has been done to ensure accuracy?

  4. What are the attribution windows?

  5. How is user behavior being factored into optimizations?

If you have doubts about your campaign data, analytics or performance; we can schedule a complimentary consultation or complete a campaign audit. We’re experts at finding the flaws and inaccuracies of campaign setup, tracking and analysis. This is the first place we start when working with a new brand or client. You have to understand where you are and identify errors in campaign setup and tracking, to be able to course correct for maximum campaign performance.

For a second set of eyes, get in touch. We’ll start right where you’re at and give you our expert opinion, without you making any immediate changes to existing relationships if necessary. Once you have the facts, you’ll be in a position to make better decisions around your media investments. Let’s talk.

Kelly Maguire