Biggest Challenges facing Marketing Agencies

As the year ends, a new one begins, most marketing agencies along with their analysts are wrapping up the year’s performance. For reconciling budgets and media spends, looking at year over year performance, and marketing planning for 2024, one thing is for sure, they are busy!

2023 was a challenging year as we transitioned from Google Analytics Universal to GA4, news of jobs being taking away by AI or specifically ChatGPT made marketing agencies creating content even more in higher demand and the promised land of marketing analytics automation still feels like miles away from some agencies.

So what are the biggest challenges and opportunities for marketing analytics in 2024?

Report Automation:

While some marketing agencies had automated reporting for years, others are still doing their PowerPoint presentations on a monthly basis. There are tools available to even automate the description. While commentary usually helps explain things like changes in spent or new creatives implemented, your reports should tell a consistent story every month. The way to do so is to have the right metrics with the right visualization. For example, trend lines in bar graphs can help indicate if its going up and down regardless of seasonality. Month over month and year over year, can help identify trends that are going up and down and help take action prior to something becoming an issue. Finally, drill down tables can provide valuable insight especially when combined with different information. For example, if you are driving app downloads from let’s say TikTok or Facebook, and you want to see in-app purchases for those sources or time spent in app you would need to either use a third party tool or combine all data from existing tools.

Therefore, the biggest opportunity for dashboard automation in 2024, would be to identify any reports, analysis and PowerPoints that are still being done by teams. There are tools and processes you can do to decrease and eliminate most manual work. This way your account managers and marketers can spend time being creative and driving results instead of reports for clients.

Lack of visibility between marketing and sales

The biggest challenge to automation and to performance improvement is the lack of visibility or access to all the required data. Different data is stored in different platforms, not all speak with each other. How you combine the data is the key to doing a big picture analysis or closed loop analytics.

For example, if you are a B2B marketing company you typically use top of the funnel tools such as Google Ads, re-marketing campaigns in Ad-Roll, maybe some social media campaigns in LinkedIn to drive leads and awareness. Once the lead is created, most marketers will have this data in data automation tool such as HubSpot, Eloqua, Marketo, and Salesforce Marketing Cloud. At this point your email marketing team is probably nurturing, lead scoring and doing other marketing initiatives. Once the lead qualifies, they typically go to CRM for sales to close the deal. This data is typically stored in Salesforce, HubSpot, Monday.com and other CRMs out there. So in an ideal world, your marketing team running LinkedIn Ads, would know what campaign drove a sale and what leads from campaigns never made it to sales.  So how do you make all those tools work?

One opportunity is to ensure your tracking is available and is shared with your marketing agencies. Technologically you can bring or merge all this data in different ways. Such as bringing the UTM codes to your CRM and doing the reporting out of there. Or utilizing your marketing automation tool to bring both front of funnel data such as cost per lead and CRM data on what lead became a customer. Another solution is to use your BI tool and harmonize/blend this data together for full visibility.

The challenge often lies not technologically, but rather with teams and company polices and permissions. The limitation of being transparent maybe needed from legal reasons, if it can be avoided will ensure that marketing efforts are maximized. This can be achieved by using ID instead of email or a person’s full information and instead of a deal size or revenue providing with just an indication if it was a high deal, mid level or low level.

Marketing Attribution is Harder with Multiple Sources

While B2B has an issue with sales transparency, marketing agencies specializing in B2C have an issue with attribution. For digital marketing, the attribution can be tracked easily especially for e-Commerce companies. But what about consumer package retailer, you maybe running influencer campaigns, app campaigns, TV ads, Radio ads and print ads. How do you attribute sales to all those initiatives?

Attribution has been a challenge for centuries, while digital marketing makes it easy to attribute to a specific channel and campaign, and there are multiple models for attribution available, they only impact digital sources and what’s more, they only impact digital sales and B2B leads. The tricky part is that most campaigns run continuously, or for a season and is part of a bigger marketing plan. What’s worst is that the company may have multiple marketing agencies helping them achieve the goal of sales of which you have no control over. Therefore, the challenge will remain especially if access to sales is not granted.

While marketing attribution will continue to be a challenge for some marketing agencies, if transparency is there for sales and you have control over all media channels, there is a way to identify if a source is contribution to the bottom line and by how much. One way is to do a correlation analysis between cost or impressions and sales for each source. Another is to see if any source did not run during a certain period and see what negative impact it had or any. Keep in mind that correlation is not causation and there maybe time delay in response. For example, car sales maybe delayed by months of seeing a commercial. Either way, it is one of the way to try to quantify efforts that are qualitative.

Testing

Testing is a great way to ensure you are moving results forward. From simple A/B tests of things like subject lines to loading 20 creatives to google ads to pick the best combination between description, headline, image, video these are all tests currently available. Marketing agencies have even greater access to testing, for example, you can do multi variant testing for those wishing to test different combinations at the same time, while requiring large sample size is ideal for creative test. Marketing analytics companies for agencies can help come up with test matrix for your team to use.

A testing matrix allows your team to measure the impact on performance by changing different variations (variables). For example, email marketing agency is typically doing A/B testing of subject line. However, that is a missed opportunity to test creative, call to action button, promotion that works best, time of day to deploy and utilizing segmentation to drive customization. For digital marketing agencies, your marketing analyst may identify what parts of creative to test, what combination of headline and segment to go after and so on.

In Conclusion, there are many opportunities for improving performance from dashboard automation, to testing matrix and improved visibility between marketing initiatives and sales. The biggest challenges, is getting access to data needed, isolating channels and campaigns as well as having the expertise in-house to drive marketing analytics. That’s where hiring a marketing analytics consultant to help grow your team’s capabilities and performance without hurting the day to day.

Hiring a Marketing Analytics Agency

The opportunity to improve marketing results and agency efficiencies is huge when brining in a marketing analytics agency. Consider the following scenario: currently your account management team spends 5-10 hours a month putting together a PowerPoint instead of coming up with new innovative ideas. Marketers are creating ads without any strategy for testing and therefore no way to judge if a creative worked or not until month’s end or ever. Finally, you have a marketing analyst that is spending hours putting the data together prior to analyzing the actual results. If these are all scenarios, you have encountered it’s time to upgrade your marketing analytics by hiring a marketing analytics company.

About StrategicDB

StrategicDB is a marketing analytics firm specializing in bringing insights through dashboard visualization, strategic marketing consulting for marketing testing, and ad hoc analytics. By working with large scale marketing teams, B2B businesses, small and large agencies, they have helped businesses scale their marketing analytics. The marketing agency works with most if not all business intelligence tools including but not limiting to: DataStudio (Google’s Looker Reports), Datorama (Marketing Intelligence Cloud), Domo, DashThis, TapClicks and more.  Contact StrategicDB for a possible partnership.