Marketing

27 Apr Fishing for Data Freedom, Landing an Unwelcome Surprise

fish-1013690_960_720It was a staple of the cartoons from my childhood: Seated on a river bank, an eager fishing enthusiast casts a line into the water and begins reeling in the line, imagining trout for dinner. Cue the laugh track -- what breaks the surface of the water is a sodden old boot. And so it is with marketing teams, enjoying the newfound freedom being pitched to them by various ad platforms. These platforms emphasize their ease of use in launching new campaigns. “You don’t have to wait for internally-generated Tracking Codes to deploy your marketing,” they say. “You can get the data you need with no hassle.” And marketers respond to it, because it’s mostly true. The vast majority of campaign tracking codes are no longer generated by human analysts, but by the Facebooks and Doubleclicks of the world. Within their ecosystems, these platforms accurately track and monitor, dutifully feeding data into the tag manager. But this presents a challenge to marketing analytics, one that can sneak up even when the tag management system is humming perfectly. When it comes time to analyze performance holistically, it works against your integrated marketing picture to have outside ad platforms creating cloned variations of codes that were carefully designed by the analytics team. Marketing teams don't realize that in reaching for "freedom," they’re also pulling in a lot of noise.
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15 Mar The Challenge and Promise of Digital Campaign Tracking

2017-03-08_12-00-47Have a look at this image. Sound familiar? Web analytics has held out the elusive promise of being a set-it-and-forget-it kind of thing. “Set up your reports, and the data will fill itself in.” That promise has largely held true -- for every part of web analytics except Marketing. That’s because with marketing, the web page you have today isn’t the one you had yesterday. There’s constant change: new information, new deals, new parameters. What everyone wants is a system that runs itself. Otherwise, as the figure shows, you spend all your time making sure the reporting is right. Spending time on data correction takes time away from the analysis that will really help the company. It’s a necessary evil. Wouldn’t it be great if we could get marketing data to the same set-and-forget kind of place as the rest of our web analytics?
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13 Mar Interview with CEO/CFO Magazine: Craig Scribner

"Companies have an ongoing challenge handing over all of the right pieces of information to their analytics system, in order for the system to tell them how their marketing campaigns are performing... We allow analytics pros or the BI team to go in as administrators to set up patterns that are relevant and targeted for the different marketing teams." Read the full interview.
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02 Mar Get to know the team — Jenny Peel

JennyWe are proud of our team at Tracking First — collectively we have decades of experience in digital media and technology. TF Marketer Alyssa Edwards recently sat down with our Director of Channel Partnerships, Jenny Peel, to learn about what led her to Tracking First. Q- Tell me a little bit about your career, where you come from, your background: I’m new to this industry, but I’ve been involved with tech startups for quite a while now. I’ve always been really intrigued by creative ideas, people developing some new product that solves a problem. I come from a creative background; for 8 years I was an interior designer and had my own firm. When I was running my business it was so challenging to be everything, to wear all the hats. I started thinking about how I could scale my business, and how to use ideas I had for doing interior design electronically. So I decided to get an MBA and really explore how to create scalable businesses.
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23 Feb Test-driven Development in Analytics

checklist-1622517_960_720In the 2017 world of IT and systems engineering, Test-driven development (TDD) is quickly becoming the new mantra. No one writes a line of code these days without the intent to have that code check/test itself. If there is bug in that code, it gets caught and fixed before it goes live, reducing any risk of breakage. This kind of system has never been deployed on the analytics side. By convention, analytics work has relied on hacks; quick and dirty patches that frequently go awry, and are just as likely to backfire and cut down the analyst, as to cut down her obstacles. If the analyst is winging it, to fill in a little gap in the proverbial data wall, he can unwittingly create a huge chasm with a single stroke. Bringing a TDD approach to analytics would go some way in changing that. It would require that whenever you make any change to your analytics, you make sure the change is fully tested before it’s deployed. This method takes more time -- and may frustrate management -- but will result in better quality control.
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15 Feb The Importance of Data Cleanup

cleaner-1816361_960_720 One of the biggest changes in the world of marketing technology in the last decade has been the rise of Analytics. We’ve arrived at a point where Analytics is an accepted word and a legitimate specialty. But (and I know I’m preaching to the choir here), we shouldn’t break out the bubbly just yet. As it turns out, it is a lot more difficult than anyone thought it would be to reap the benefits of all our new data streams. To put it simply: though we have the tools to create bits of data, making the bits work together is hard. Jim Sterne, founder of the Digital Analytics Association and Tracking First advisor, recently shared a startling anecdote. The good folks at Analytics Demystified have created the Analytics Exchange, a place where analysts can meet up with like-minded industry colleagues, to find mentorship around analytics best practices. According to Jim, almost everyone comes to the forum for the first time with questions about how to streamline and synchronize their various data flows, in order to make sense of it all. And virtually every time, the answer is, “Your tags are a mess. You have to redo everything.” Every time.
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31 Jan Accountability and Governance – new features for Tracking First

rules-1752622_960_720Often, when companies release a marketing campaign, their analytics teams spend the next few days scrambling. As quickly as possible, they need to make sure all the data is pulling correctly. Are the tracking codes working? Are the expected data reportable? When something goes wrong, as it often does, it’s hard to know who made the mistake and where. An experienced analyst can sometimes decipher from context. They may see that the broken code came from an email, or a specific social media channel, but it’s challenging detective work -- and it’s a huge pain. Anything you learn may not help anyway, because the data is already damaged.  Some companies have taken the lead and tried to solve this by creating their own governance systems to monitor the generation and management of Tracking Codes. Companies like Salesforce and HP have developed their own tools. That’s been their only option up to this point. However, these systems are typically expensive and not core to their business. With maintenance and development time devoted solely to maximizing investments they’ve already paid for, these systems can be a real money pit.
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14 Dec Your org chart may be your problem

Org StructureAs humans we’re good at sorting things into piles -- very young children can put all the blocks together in one pile, all the little animals together in another. It’s easy, and we can see the sense in it. Now that we’re grown up, we’re still tempted to group things together that seem similar, but sometimes it slows us down. A lot of businesses group their analytics departments with their IT -- all techies together, we think -- they’ll keep each other company. But there are some genuine costs to this simple choice: when the IT department is in charge of the analytics department, we shouldn’t be surprised if analytics begins to elevate the priorities of the IT department, at the expense of the core values of the company. With analysts under the thumb of IT, the KPIs that are being delivered are about optimizing IT processes.
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