14 Effective Approaches To Interpreting Marketing Data

Marion Steward

Marketers today know that data-driven initiatives can have a more granular, strategic impact than “spray and pray” methods of outreach or simply following their gut instincts ever could. For many, the biggest challenge standing in the way of creating a data-driven marketing strategy is figuring out the best approach to interpreting the data available to them.

Whether you want to evaluate SEO, lead-gen efforts, a sales and marketing funnel, the potential return on investment of an ad campaign, the effectiveness of an affiliate program or any number of other key metrics, taking the right approach to interpreting the data you’ve gathered is essential before you can use it to drive success. To learn how various approaches to marketing data analysis can help you beat the competition, see the expert tips from members of Forbes Agency Council below.

1. Create Customized Reports For Each Client

Something that works well for us when interpreting marketing report data is creating customized reports for each client. These reports are personalized to illustrate the metrics relevant to their business, rather than overwhelming them with unnecessary data about their campaign. This helps us streamline our reporting process while demonstrating a personalized touch that wins brand loyalty. – Adam Binder, Creative Click Media

2. Try To Blow Holes In The Report Data

You must try to blow holes in the report data in order to turn it into useful information. Was there an outside force impacting normal internet behavior, such as Covid-19 or extreme weather? Did you pick up a lot of bot traffic in the analysis? All of this must be considered before interpreting report data. – T. Maxwell, eMaximize

3. Provide The Story Behind Marketing Report Data

There’s a difference between data and insight. Data without a story (or context) can be noisy, misleading or both. Data with a story provides valuable insight into what’s working in your marketing efforts, what’s not and how you need to adapt. Cut through the data noise and tell the story of what your marketing report data is saying—and why it matters. – Becca Apfelstadt, treetree

4. Verify The Source And Assess What The Research Shows

It goes without saying that verifying the source is important. The next step is to assess what the research shows about your clients and the decision-making process. From there, determine key insights that will drive your agency’s marketing strategies forward. Don’t discount what industry- and service-specific trends can tell you about your areas in need of improvement. – Scott Miraglia, Elevation Marketing


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5. Don’t Overlook Market Data Just Because It Isn’t Exact

Market data is invaluable, and I am always surprised by how often it is overlooked by my peers. No, it is not exact—but what is?—and unless you are receiving it in real-time, it can become stale. However, in either case, at its worst, a market report is the most useful directional information available; at its best, it is the most important resource available. – Andrew Roth, Meet the People

6. Stay Grounded In Context To Avoid Jumping To Conclusions

Review the data within its context. It’s easy to focus on numbers alone, but keep your review grounded in realistic expectations. A website’s slightly downtrending rankings may indicate a Google algorithm update. Similarly, search engines won’t reflect certain updates for a few weeks to months, so avoid jumping to conclusions. – Hannah Trivette, NUVEW Web Solutions

7. Know How Data Relates To The Business And Create Proper KPIs

The best way to interpret marketing report data is by understanding how the data relates to the business and setting up proper key performance indicators. For example, If we are interpreting e-commerce data, the KPIs will be ROI, conversion rate, total revenue, cart abandonment rate, orders completed and drop-off rate within the checkout process. Setting up KPIs helps you understand the data better. – Ajay Prasad, GMR Web Team

8. Always Ask About The Real Impact Of Impressive Numbers

When looking at a report, it is always great to see numbers that look impressive. However, what is really important is that you are constantly asking yourself what the numbers actually mean and how they are directly impacting your business. If the goal is to bring in more leads, a high newsletter open rate is great, but how is this ultimately impacting the ability to bring in leads? – Tellef Lundevall, Accelerated Digital Media

9. Link Each Data Point To A Relevant Campaign Goal

While looking at the data, it is crucial to link each data point to a larger, relevant campaign objective or goal. Identify where those data points are reflective of an existing benchmark, indicate an anomaly that needs further investigation or represent an opportunity that needs further evaluation. – Oksana Matviichuk, Performics

10. Be Cognizant Of The Purchasing Cycle

It is critical to be cognizant of the purchasing cycle when analyzing data. For example, if you monitor data and make changes weekly for a business with highly considered purchases or long sales cycles, you may be moving away from something too soon. Your media mix may be working, but some elements may have yet to actualize within reporting, or optimizations may have occurred outside of your conversion window. – Donna Robinson, Collective Measures

11. Visualize What Result You Want To Track

Before I look at the data, I visualize what result I want to track—conversion metrics, KPIs and so forth—and then go into the report with that in mind. That way, I seek out the most relevant metrics, rather than dozens and dozens of numbers that are 90% meaningful to the goals I’m trying to track. Each client and campaign is different, so I do it each time I review a new report. – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency

12. Work Backward With A Results-First Mindset

We start by looking at the results in the report and work backward. What data counts toward our client’s profits? This is the data that really matters. If we double a client’s website traffic, but that traffic isn’t converting, that’s a problem. By approaching the data with a results-first mindset, it keeps us focused on bigger-picture outcomes so we know where to hone our strategies in the future. – Bernard May, National Positions

13. Establish Growth And Engagement Goals Against A Benchmark

We focus on what directly generated revenue for the client to have a benchmark, then establish the growth and engagement goals for the campaign based on the results. I look at what platform, placement and storyline made the most positive impact for the client, whatever that means for their business. It is different for every business and brand. – Vix Reitano, Agency 6B

14. Seek Out Data And Findings That Challenge Your Instincts

It’s easy to view marketing reports through a confirmatory lens. However, it is important to challenge this innate bias. One way to achieve this is to specifically seek out data and findings that go against your instincts and focus on them—not to disprove them, but to understand why the data doesn’t appear as you’d expect. Through this process, some of the most valuable insights can be found. – Chris Martin, FlexMR

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2022/02/24/14-effective-approaches-to-interpreting-marketing-data/

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