Even before we begin planning our analysis, it’s important to keep in mind that the final result of a good analysis is not the result of one brief stroke of genius.
Instead, a good analysis is the byproduct of a painful and labor intensive process.
By the end of this article you will take away five important steps which will help you in preparing for the rest of your analytical journey.
These 5 steps can be categorized as follows:
- There are five primary business objectives that your analysis can address, and choosing one of them is very important.
- The key question you are addressing for analyzing the particular data needs to tie back into those 5 business objectives.
- A framework like CDJ (Consumer Decision Journey) produced by McKinsey is very helpful in categorizing and answering those key questions.
- Once you understand where you’re going to direct your analysis, there are several tools available to help you in conducting it.
- Finally, documenting your plan is critically important for a long term success.
1. Five Primary Business Objectives
There are five marketing objectives that your analysis can address.
You need to select only one of these five before proceeding any further – which is very critical for conducting a successful analysis.
Even though your company may have multiple problems across many of these different objectives, but the analysis that you conduct can only be focused only on one of them.
Whether your goal is to build awareness, influence consideration, improve sales process, re-position your brand, or grow loyalty – all of these objectives are mutually exclusive, there is no real overlap between them.
And they really do cover the whole range of marketing challenges that an organization can have.
You will notice that growing sales is not on this list because that is not a marketing objective. Growing sales for an organization is an outcome of successfully addressing one of these marketing challenges.
So you may ask, how do I determine whether my organization struggles with one of these different challenges?
2. Key Questions Tying Back Into Business Objectives
Well, there are some simple questions that you can ask of these individual business objectives.
Do consumers recall and recognize my brand?
If they don’t, it means your brand has a problem with this business objective and you need to work on building your awareness up.
Do the products that I have satisfy consumer’s needs?
If they don’t, it means consumers are choosing other products and you need to implement a better way to drive consumers to your products.
Improve Sales Process:
Do my sales efforts result in wins for my brand?
If they don’t, there are probably hiccups or problems along your sales process that is causing issues.
And improving sales process doesn’t mean improving advertising. It’s rather about what you are doing at the shelf, whether you are winning or not?
For an e-commerce platform, once someone reaches the checkout process, are they completing it or do you have a large cart abandonment?
Is there something in that process that is preventing them from becoming a customer?
Depending upon the answers to these questions, you can tell if your brand needs to improve its sales process.
Re-position The Brand:
Do the experiences I deliver fulfill customer expectations?
If they don’t, you either need to create products or set the expectations in consumers’ mind that your products or the brand that you promote, do actually fulfill their needs.
Do consumers advocate for my brand?
If consumers don’t advocate for your brand, then loyalty is probably the issue.
Now, these are the primary marketing objectives that organizations have and very few are able to address all of these correctly.
Not because an organization might have more than one problem, but because they try to analyze and tackle more than one objective.
As mentioned before, it will be critically important for you to find and settle on a single objective, because if you’re trying to chase too many, your analysis is not going to be impactful.
You’re going to get lost down that road!
3. Primary Categories of Marketing Analysis
Once we are done with deciding our primary business objective and key question tying back to it, we can now determine under which marketing analysis category does our situation falls in.
A great framework to help in determining that is the CDJ (Consumer Decision Journey) produced by McKinsey.
Let’s talk a little bit about how that works.
Everything begins with a trigger, either a customer sees an advertisement and goes wow, or they simply runs out of a product that they already have.
Following that is the process of active evaluation. It’s when consumers are collecting lot of information to evaluate the different product choices and brands.
The next step is the moment of purchase when a consumer is standing in the retail outlet – sees different products and has to make a choice.
After the moment of purchase, there is the post-purchase experience.
Then you’ve got a loyalty loop – place where every brand aspires to be. It’s basically a shortcut of the entire consumer’s decision journey.
If I am an advocate of iPhone, I’ll go to the nearest Apple store or place an order on Amazon for a new iPhone.
I’ll jump in that loyalty loop and avoid the possibility of buying some other brand’s product entirely.
This is the framework through which we can categorize the key questions of our marketing analysis.
You can notice the only one stage that is left out here is the trigger stage.
At the trigger, brands aim to gain awareness about consumer needs. Even though it’s vital for the success of any sort of brand, it is not necessarily a marketing challenge.
It’s more like that you don’t have the depth of understanding about your customers.
Now, for each of these different objectives and questions, a different analysis technique can be applied to gain insights from the data.
For trigger stage, clickstream analysis can be very important to see how consumers are moving around your website, where they’re going, what’s important to them and what is not.
At initial consideration data set, great insights can be gained by performing a competitive intelligence analysis.
Doing experimentation and testing is a good technique for active evaluation stage. Putting things into the market and pulling them out, then observing what the response is – AB testing where you offer two different choices to consumer and see which one wins.
Outcomes Analysis is a fantastic analytical approach for the moment of purchase. Which factors led to the purchase, or which ones caused the customer to abandon the purchase? Which factors caused them to go elsewhere?
Voice of the customer surveys are great ways to get insights into post-purchase experiences as well as collecting data around brand advocacy. Are consumers advocating for my brand?
A survey is a great analysis technique to learn more about your customer loyalty and their experience with your products.
4. Tools Available For Each Category
Tools that we have available to us are many and here’s my recommendation of some of the more prominent ones that are either low cost or completely free.
- Clickstream Analysis: Google Analytics, Kissmetrics, Piwik.
- Outcomes Analysis: Mongoose Metrics(DialogueTech) and LivePerson.
- Voice of Customer Survey: Google Consumer Survey, Qualaroo.
- Experimentation/Testing: Optimizely, AdWords Campaign Experiments and Google Website Optimizer.
- Competitive Intelligence: Google Trends, Google Correlate, AdWords Keyword Planner.
By now you should be able to clearly see how we’re kind of layering in and building together the objectives, key questions that we need to answer on these objectives, and the tools that are available for the various analysis techniques.
But the most important thing to do is documenting all that so you’ve got laid out so far.
5. Documenting The Whole Plan
So, let’s walk through a quick example on how to do that. The documentation needs not to be fancy, just has to be simple and complete.
You want to document your business objective, tie that to a key question, and then identify data and sources.
So let’s take ‘Grow Loyalty’ as our example objective, here is what your document might look like.
One of the questions that we’ll want to ask then is, how has consumer interest in our brand trended over time?
Has it gone up or down? How have we been performing in terms of interest, which is a clear indicator of loyalty.
Now, this is your chance as a marketing analyst to get creative.
In this example we will use ‘Search Volume’ using Google Trends, which is an indication of interest. More search volume means more people interested in the brand.
Then we’ll also use our customer inquiries from our customer service representative database. Why is the consumer calling, did they want more product information?
The second key question we can ask is, what consumer group is our strongest advocate?
And to answer this we’ll want to look at a segmentation study that we already have. This study takes the different consumers that we market to and breaks them into discrete groups.
If we take Twitter as an example, then we can tie this segmentation study to Twitter usage statistics using Twitter API, to see which of these groups have tweeted out the most about our brand.
But Twitter is not going to tell us which of their Twitter accounts line up to which of our consumer segments.
So we’re going to be clever marketers and use hashtags in some way to tie people to different consumer segments.
Maybe we had them vote on what flavor they liked of our product – flavor being our segmentation method.
Third question would be, which marketing programs have grown advocacy for us?
And here we can use a couple of sources.
We’ll use our company website, which has the calendar of campaigns that we’ve run.
Again we must have been clever marketers, and probably asked consumers to use hashtags around those different campaigns.
Then we can check websites like Keyhole, which can provide for us the hashtag usage so that we can get a sense of the relative volume of Twitter activity that each campaign has created.
With this document in hand, we are ready to start out and identify the data sources and collect the data out of those sources – then conduct some analysis to answer our key questions.
Without this important document, we would be heading off on to a journey without a map.
And as you know, those never end well.
Let’s Wrap This Up
We covered up a lot of ground on this topic – talked about a lot of things.
So here’s an Infographic which boils down all the five steps of your data analysis plan. You can use it to recall the entire process.
Download this before you start off with your data collection and analysis journey.