The future of analytics: Why you need to keep on top of the latest metrics

July 19, 2017 1:00:00 PM BST

The most difficult part of any marketing job is proving success. Just how do you measure success? Is it eyeballs on your site? Conversions? Revenue in the bank?

The truth is that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. Company A might live and die by its conversions while Company B could be a digital-first publisher that thrives on ad revenue and driving traffic to its site.

As a marketer, you’re surrounded by numbers. They’re everywhere. And sure, maybe you got into marketing as a creative outlet – but the modern marketer needs to be able to marry ideas and analytics. Without the former, your campaigns fail. Without the latter, you have no idea how your campaign actually performed.

Analytics and ever-moving goalposts

It’s not enough to take a campaign (or brand) at current value. Look at Netflix, the streaming behemoth.

In its most recent stock valuation, Netflix shares were up 1.9 percent to $157.26 on the back of the successes of shows like Orange Is The New Black, Stranger Things, and 13 Reasons Why.

Netflix was predicted to report 15 cents in earnings per share on revenue of $2.77 billion, as well as domestic and international streaming subscriber net addition of 700,000 and 2.7 million respectively.

Those are mammoth numbers, so surely a drop in growth would be an outlier?

Wedbush, a privately held financial services and investment firm, suggests a difficult 12 months for Netflix – a thought it has echoed for nearly three years.

“We believe Netflix’s high valuation is unwarranted,” said its analysts, “given the potential for sustained decelerating domestic growth coupled with consistently elusive international profitability and heightened international competition.”

The proof? Scepticism over Netflix’s programming, including the recently-canned cult favourites Sense8 and The Get Down.

On the surface, Netflix is booming – and its share price rise suggests as much. However, a strong Q2 is only a win if it leads to an equally strong Q3 and 4. In the end, it’s the final results that matters – and that’s good advice too for anyone involved in marketing.

What’s particularly interesting about Wedbush’s valuation, however, is that it has sparked debate in its own right.

Mad Money’s Jim Cramer vehemently disagrees with Wedbush’s prediction. Cramer believes that Netflix trades on metrics that are too difficult to tie down, with an emphasis on content metrics and subscriber growth.

In the last few years, Netflix has defied traditional metrics and continued to grow. Wedbush rely on these traditional metrics to make its predictions, where Netflix is more forward-facing with an emphasis on analytics that aren’t often fully tangible. At the root of Wedbush’s predictions is Netflix’s cancellation rate – but a larger programming output will inevitably see a larger cancellation rate.

Depending on the metrics you use, you’ll either be a Cramer or a Wedbush; regardless, the case of Netflix’s valuation deftly exemplifies the importance of choosing the right metrics.  

Metrics at the counterpoint of attribution and value

When choosing your metrics, marketers should think in terms of ‘attribution’ and ‘value’. Your metrics will have varying importance relevant to your pipeline: e.g. stray clicks vs a lead who downloads a content asset.

With more data becoming available to marketers, it’s your job to dig beneath the surface of your metrics to find the convergence of attribution and value. It’s not enough to blast your messaging to a wide audience with the hope that a tiny sliver will convert. You need the right messaging at the right time in front of the right audience.

Forward-thinking companies like Netflix acknowledge that we’re living in a content era. Marketing teams need to justify real ROI, but in the example of a digital-first publisher, ROI can rest solely on ad revenue which circumnavigates to generated traffic and time spent on a page.

These kind of stats can be difficult to predict, and marketers can rest on easy metrics instead of digging deeper into content mapping and intent data.

Modern marketers need analytics to give a 360-degree view of the brand – otherwise they’re missing out on core takeaways. You’ll often need to measure everything from social intent to leads and asset performance to gain the full-measure of a campaign – and to impress the C-suite with your reporting.

Regardless of what you’re measuring, you need to be looking to the future all the time so you can understand what your marketing tactics are actually accomplishing.

Computer programmer and former Navy rear admiral Grace Hopper said it best, “Humans are allergic to change. They love to say, ‘We’ve always done it this way.’”

For marketers, however, there’s little more dangerous to a campaign than living in the past. Marketers have more data available to them than ever before – it’s up to them to choose the metrics that’ll define them. 

Interested in a combined analytics dashboard that can make your job easier?

If you want to gain insight into your marketing data and figure out your next opportunity, then you're in the right place. If you want to see what a combined marketing analytics dashboard can do for you, get in touch with the Statwolf team.

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