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Marketing Data Collection: A Daunting (but Valiant) Task

“It’s supposed to be hard. If it were easy, everyone would do it.”

– Jimmy Dugan, Rockford Peaches Manager 

Marketing analytics is hard.

There’s a foundational issue that creates a real pickle for marketers. Companies that own pieces of the data ecosystem don’t share their data with other companies who own other the other pieces of the data ecosystem. Hoarding data makes money. When you combine that with privacy concerns that have been developing over the last few years, marketers find the success of their reporting in the hands of conglomerates with little regard for the integrated reporting needs of an organization.  

Outside of this primary problem, there are secondary issues that contribute to the reporting plight. Misattribution in Google Analytics and online-to-offline conversions are just a few of the headache-inducing stressors that plague the marketing reporting effort. The future isn’t much brighter as Apple and Google begin to introduce a cookie-less internet browsing experience which will make collecting data even more difficult. As a result, reports are siloed because data is unconnected by source. 

Don’t fret – it’s not all bad news. There are steps you can take in data collection and organization to help connect your various data points and offer some clarity to your reporting.

Four Steps to Better Measure Your Marketing Efforts 

UTM Codes and Ad Naming 

UTM codes are the crucial component to any marketer’s quest for tracking and attributing data to the correct channel, campaign, message, etc. These codes are simple snippets you can create and add to the end of a URL. If it links to your website, then it needs a UTM code. We’ve created this simple guide to building a UTM code process that makes sense for your business.

Fill out the form to download a guide to building UTMs

When you’re setting up ads in channels like Facebook, use the same schemas in your ad naming to tie it all together. 

Using UTM codes will direct Google on how to organize your traffic and will give you greater insight into audiences, messages, campaigns, ad types or just about any other parameter you would want to use to dissect your data. 

Manually Input Data Into a Spreadsheet 

Not only is it hard to connect marketing channel data together, connecting your sales and organizational data that’s stored in other platforms to your marketing data can be a real pain. Or maybe you want to know how weather affects your sales. Or you want to note something that happened in a store that caused the data to spike (or dip). With a little bit of work, you can find ways to connect this sort of data to your marketing data.

We recently helped a partner of ours by using a random unique string of numbers and letters that are triggered when a form is completed on their website. That string passes to their CRM and to Google Analytics. From there, we can see sales data from the CRM and tie that to marketing data in Google Analytics. That top level data is added in a Google Spreadsheet is used to generate sales and leads reports.   

Get Creative with Your Offline Channels 

This is an oldie but a goodie. Purchase vanity URLs for offline sources that drive traffic to your website. Yourdomain.com/publication name OR campaignname.com redirecting to a page on your website is easy and brings some much-needed attribution to traditional advertising.  

Make it a Process and Stick to It 

Data collected through UTM codes isn’t relevant if only half of your website links include UTM codes. Completing that spreadsheet will never be something you always have time for. Process only works when it’s rooted in consistency. Find the time, put the right rules in place and stress the importance of data collection to your team because if you’re not planning your collection efforts ahead of time, you’ll have nothing new to report. 

These tips require no expert knowledge – just a little elbow grease. You can get a lot more complicated. From advanced event tracking in Google Tag Manager to custom parameters and channel groupings in Google Analytics.

Data collection and organization is the first step to offering some clarity in your marketing reporting efforts. And because data drives more than 75% of all marketing budget decisions, the time is now to begin truly investing in your data.  

If you’re ready to see how OROS can empower data-driven decisions through clear, identifiable mapping and measurement strategies plus insights from real humans, contact us today. 

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