Answering the #1 Question In Marketing (With Data)

March 19, 2020
News & Media

Where Should We Be Focusing?

This is the #1 question we hear in all of our conversations with marketing strategists. And I’m talking about smart, talented, industry-leading strategists. You’d think that with all the marketing innovation that’s happened over the past decade that this would be solved for by now.

AI can write news articles that are indistinguishable from those written by a human

Algorithms make 80%+ of all trades on the stock market to capture value in milliseconds

I can order Domino's pizza by grunting at a cylindrical listening device in my living room.

But this question remains unanswered (or answered half-heartedly) at many cutting edge companies:

Where should we focus to reach our audience most efficiently?

And yet, this is one of the core things we need to figure out as marketing strategists.

The crazy thing is... it’s actually getting harder to determine where to focus marketing efforts, not easier.

Why Is This So Dang Hard?

Imagine being a marketing professional in the 60s. The economy is soaring, your lunch consists of two double martinis, the world is your oyster.

But the best part? Where to run your marketing campaign isn’t even a question. You can count the options on one hand.

Marketing Channels in the 60s
Marketing channels in the 60s. Simpler times.

You make the ad, create a few versions for these channels, then call it a day. Delightful!

Now here’s our choices today:

Marketing Technology Landscape
2020 Martech Landscape

Mmm Terrifying!

Today, the biggest opportunity in marketing is also the biggest challenge. There is simply way too much choice.

But that’s not even the worst part…

Data Is Part of the Problem

Blasphemy, right?

In the last decade, marketers fell in love with data. And don’t get me wrong, it’s made reaching an audience easier than ever. Just think about all the valuable data we get from running paid social ad campaigns on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and the like.

Paid Social Metrics

If you’re a performance marketer and it’s your job to meet digital objectives within a couple channels, this information alone is a goldmine.

Here’s the problem, most marketing data is designed to make one channel more effective, not help decide which channels to focus on when creating strategy.

When you zoom out to the whole landscape— which is a marketing strategist’s job —not only is the data not designed to answer your key questions, the sheer amount of it is overwhelming.

Marketing strategy data

Why Can’t We Figure Out Where to Focus?

Many marketing strategists will tell you that it feels like a moving target. Well, it is! Audience preferences change, audiences themselves change, competitors react.

There’s tons of challenges to answering the “where should we focus” question.

Digital Marketing Data Is Typically Siloed And Channel-Specific

Most marketing leaders we talk to have a ton of great tools providing them with data.

  • Google Analytics
  • Facebook Ads Manager
  • Buffer, Sprout Social, Hootsuite, Sprinklr, or one of the other social management tools

They all provide reams of useful data, but that data is specifically designed to help make its respective channel more effective.

  • Google Analytics helps optimize onsite traffic
  • Facebook Ads Manager helps drive impressions and conversions
  • The social tools help drive engagement and reach on social

...but they aren’t designed to give you a macro picture of where to focus.

Using existing analytics tools to determine high level digital strategy is like looking at the speedometer in your car and trying to figure out which parts of the engine need service. The measurement device simply isn’t designed to answer that.

Most Digital Data Is Inward-Looking

Quoting from our article 6 Steps to Design a Successful Marketing Intelligence Process...

“Using data to power better marketing decisions has been one of the most fundamental shifts in how business is done over the past decade. Analytics software, digital advertising channels, social media analytics, CRMs, and audience segmentation tools have allowed businesses large and small to produce growth at rates previously unheard of.

But all these tools only look at the audience you’re already reaching. That’s half the picture.

Marketing Intelligence is like uncovering that other eye you’ve had covered for all these years. It allows you to “see outside your own 4 walls” and understand what the rest of your market is doing.”

If you haven’t yet evolved your research, analytics, and strategy efforts to include Marketing Intelligence, you really should.

There Still Isn’t An Off-the-shelf Option To Tie It All Together

We do marketing intelligence research at RightMetric, and I can tell you with confidence that there is no such thing as marketing intelligence software that puts everything— truly everything —in one place. Our fix? We’ve developed our own methodologies to weave together data from 30+ audience and competitive intelligence tools to put everything in one place. As such, we don’t have the near-infinite scalability of a software company, but we offer a marketing intelligence solution that gives marketing strategists one place to refer to for simple answers.

How to Get The Answer

At RightMetric, we’ve spent the past two years tackling this challenge for our clients, and ultimately answering the question “Where should we focus to reach our audience most efficiently?”

Like most things, the answer seems obvious once you already have it. That’s how we felt when we figured this out anyway.

So here’s how we do it:

  1. Measure Audience Attention Across The Digital Landscape.
  2. Benchmark Where Competitors Are Allocating Resources To Reach That Audience.
  3. Uncover Areas Of Opportunity Where Attention Is High And Competition Is Low.

Let’s quickly visualize the process:

measure audience attention

And then you...

benchmark competitors

And finally...

uncover marketing opportunities

Pretty easy, right?

Well, it’s easy to use, which was our goal. But if you’ve spent any time working in marketing research, analytics, or strategy; you already know that this is very difficult to actually pull off.

Here’s what it takes…

How to Actually Get The Answer

You need to do three things:

  1. Gather Audience Intelligence
  2. Gather Competitive Intelligence
  3. Combine the results from 1 & 2 to get an apples-to-apples comparison

There are hundreds of Audience & Competitive Intelligence tools out there so we’ll leave that for another article and focus on the key thing that no one seems to have figured out yet...

To answer the question “Where should we focus to reach our audience most efficiently?” you need to combine both Audience Intelligence and Competitive Intelligence.

It’s all about considering where the audience spends time online, how competitors are reaching the audience there, and comparing the two.

By the way, remember that when we say “competitors” I mean anyone or anything competing for your audience’s attention online. We go into depth about that in this article.

Audience Intelligence and Competitive Intelligence are really just two lenses that help us evaluate marketing strategies.

audience intelligence versus competitive intelligence

In Summary

To answer the question “Where should we focus to reach our audience most efficiently?” you need to do three things:

  1. Measure your audience’s attention across the digital landscape.
  2. Benchmark where your competitors are allocating resources to reach that audience.
  3. Compare the results from 1&2 to identify opportunities where attention is high and competition is low.

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