Analytics and reporting is in high demand, as data now plays an essential role in the decision-making process for many marketing leaders. This has created a constant need for more. More metrics, more ad-hoc reports, and more insights.

With the requests piling up, it’s easy to get stuck in a routine of churning out the reports needed to satisfy the minimum requirements. But great analysts are never happy delivering mediocre reporting. Sometimes you need to shakeup your analytics process to get you back to innovative and effective reporting.

To help you break out of your routine and drive better reporting and analytics, here are 3 opportunities to improve your marketing analytics process.

Ask This Question Before Starting Any New Project

The most impactful opportunity to improve your marketing analytics process is also the easiest and the fastest of the three. It’s an opportunity to remove some of the complexity from the analytics process and potentially reduce your workload. All you have to do is ask:

How Will This Help Drive More Revenue?

This one simple question will help clarify the end goals, ensure the necessity of the analytics build-out, and help you understand the value of your efforts and the impact they’ll have on the bottom line.

This question helps people reframe their analytics request around the ultimate goal of the business: driving revenue. You might be surprised at some of the answers you receive.

It might turn out the person requesting the report doesn’t actually have an answer and will withdraw the request of their own volition. More often, however, the original request gets revised and clarified, making the resulting analytics even more powerful.

The best answer is a clear and concise explanation of why this analytics build-out is necessary and how it will help the business drive more revenue. With this shared understanding, everyone can rally around the same goal and place a higher value around the analytics you deliver.

For example, your CMO could request a new report to track conversions across all digital channels. Let’s bring the focus back to revenue. Instead of simply counting conversions, you should measure the types of conversions and which conversion channels drive the most revenue. The best conversion analytics don’t solely capture online conversions, but offline as well using call attribution software. With this type of reporting, agency BusinessOnline helped one of their clients increase revenue by 35%.

Create a Workflow That Works for You

This second opportunity will help you improve your analytics process once you have answered the revenue question. Every analyst has their own workflow, but there are a few tricks that can make the overall process easier for everyone. Incorporating these concepts into your workflow will expedite the overall marketing analytics process.

Start With a Clear Understanding of the End

Vagueness is a mortal enemy throughout the entire analytics process, but it’s particularly dangerous at the beginning. You want to ensure the key stakeholders all agree on the specifics of what needs to be built, how long it will take, and what the end result will look like. This helps reduce the number of versions and approvals needed throughout the process and ensures the end result meets expectations.

See the Bigger Picture

A lot of analytics requests initially seem like they’re only one-time, ad-hoc reports, and if you aren’t careful this could come back to bite you. That report you thought was a one-time deal, but took hours to build, will likely need to be updated at some point down the line.

This happens because marketers love to optimize and they need your reports and data to measure improvement. Marketing analytics need to be built out in a scalable way to avoid having to spend as much time updating a report as you did on the initial build. Some steps you can take to avoid this are:

  • Avoid manual data entry
  • Use named ranges and cell references that scale with your dataset
  • Maintain the original data structure so it’s easy to update or replace
  • Avoid row-specific formulas by using arrays

Deliver Initial Working Version to Key Stakeholders

Before you roll out your final version to the entire team it’s often beneficial to deliver the earliest working version to a few key stakeholders. Getting their take on the report you’ve been working on at an earlier point in the process helps you avoid drastic redesigns later. It’s much harder (and certainly more frustrating) to do a complete overhaul after you deliver what you thought was the final version.

Stick to the KPIs

Everybody wants more data. It’s easy to get stuck in a perpetual cycle of developing new metrics and building new reporting to track them. When this happens, you wind up spending all of your time creating micro-data points for impatient marketers. It’s easy for us to get fixated on the data and want more, but in reality, a solid set of KPIs is sufficient.

KPIs keep your marketing analytics on a level that is useful and efficient. Carefully selected KPIs should be powerful enough that to drive actionable insight and determine strategic direction. The marketing analytics process loses it’s momentum and efficiency if you drill down past KPIs too often, and the return on those micro-data points is often not worth the time.

Data is a powerful tool for marketers and the desire for more data can easily translate into overloaded analysts delivering mediocre reporting. These three opportunities will help marketers improve their analytics process and produce reporting that drives insights and improves the bottom line.