From Deren Baker, CEO Jumpshot – 

Since the rise of search marketing in the early 2000s, marketers’ abilities to track digital spend has grown increasingly sophisticated. Yet even though accountability has improved across channels and devices, the customer journey has become more complex. Proper attribution is now a constant pain point for marketers struggling to ascertain which channels generate ROI.

CMOs regularly face tough questions about attribution and budget allocation. Only a third of those interviewed by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business said they’ve been able to quantitatively prove the impact of their spending. Analytics platforms have helped them answer some of the questions raised by the ever-expanding marketing landscape, but the overall ROI can be difficult to measure.

Given that analytics themselves don’t affect customer behavior or sales, CMOs should engage other stakeholders from throughout the company to paint a truer picture of the marketing team’s performance. Bringing diverse perspectives from across the company into the analysis paints a fuller, more nuanced picture of the marketing team’s performance, as well as transparency on difficult budget discussions. Other leaders are less likely to balk at budget cuts in favor of marketing if they understand how those resources are being used to support the business.

As an added bonus, team members from other departments will be more enthusiastic about participating in marketing initiatives when they feel like they have more of a stake in them. No one likes being told what to do, but people are happy to help when they can take ownership of the outcomes.

When my company first launched, we were very successful at driving trial memberships, but converting those users into paying customers proved quite challenging. I tasked my management team with devising a strategy for reshaping the business. Because everyone drew on the experiences of their own departments, we came up with a plan that worked for the entire company, not just one section. We’ve had great success since that pivot, and it wouldn’t have been possible without collaboration.

My company isn’t alone in waking up to the power of working together. Sixty-five percent of participants in Dresner’s Collective Insights 2016 report said collaborative business intelligence is a priority at their organizations.

Here’s how to establish that cohesiveness at your organization:

 

1. Give all parties a seat at the table

If a group might be affected by the outcome of a particular analysis, involve the relevant team members from the outset. Hearing their input enables you to make well-informed decisions. Handing down proclamations without consulting the people who will be affected is just asking for a fight.

IDC found that high-performing firms encourage collaboration among their analytics, IT, and line of business departments. Without ongoing communication between these team members, misunderstandings arise about budget allocation and data is used ineffectively. Make sure departments are working together on areas of mutual interest, and create a pipeline for people to share concerns about new initiatives. This pipeline can look different depending on your company culture — maybe it’s an email chain, a dedicated Slack channel, or a series of in-person meetings. Just ensure departments know when and how to collaborate.

 

2. Don’t limit analysis to internal participants

Your agency partners have a vested interest in ensuring your company’s success, so ask them to share their observations about how your company operates. As impartial consultants, they may feel more comfortable offering candid feedback than full-time employees.

Agencies have also seen what worked and what didn’t for the rest of their client bases, and they may be able to help you avoid common mistakes. Ask whether they have a line on any industry reports you might have missed, and ask that they speak up when they see ways in which you can improve.

 

3. Collaborate to set data-driven goals

What is your No. 1 priority? Increased ROI? Stronger allocation of budget? Customer lift? Identify the desired end result, and broadcast it to all relevant parties. Everyone should know exactly what he or she is working toward to make collaboration more efficient. We at Jumpshot, for instance, prioritize developing strong products so our clients can successfully improve their businesses. The whole team knows that everyone is striving for the same goal.

Clarity also ensures you’re making good use of your data. Most companies know data is the key to growing their businesses, but they aren’t always sure how to use the information they’ve collected. Knowing your KPIs provides direction and focus. Make sure you’re addressing real problems with those KPIs; just because the rest of your industry is using analytics a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the right move for your company.

Work with your data analysts and IT leaders to interpret the data you collect. Otherwise, you end up zeroing in on trends that don’t exist and problems that aren’t really there (while missing data points that actually matter). Forrester found that among the firms it surveyed, a mere 29 percent successfully implemented analytics in their strategies. Collaboration helps you avoid costly mistakes.

Marketing and other departments depend on one another, and that relationship creates exciting opportunities for innovation and creative problem-solving. When CMOs and their teams engage with other stakeholders, their analytics take on new meanings and they’re better able to serve their companies and shape their brands.