THINK Contributor

Using analytics to conduct a mid-mortem and post-mortem campaign analysis

By , November 16, 2016

Marketing expert Neil Patel says most marketing campaigns fail within three months, and larger studies support his findings. According to the Harvard Business Review, fewer than 3 percent of product launches in the consumer packaged-goods space hit the benchmark for a successful launch. This leaves marketers facing two important questions: how can we better monitor campaign performance in real time, and how can we conduct a post-mortem to garner the most salient lessons and improve future performance? Better analytics let marketers know minute by minute how campaigns are performing, if they’re driving sales and if specific channel choices resonate with customers. Integrating these tools throughout the campaign lifecycle, however, can be a challenge. Here’s a closer look at how analytics can provide better campaign analysis throughout the process.

How the Post-Mortem Became the Mid-Mortem

Marketing insights used to be available only after a campaign was finished. Now, with real-time insights from advertising dashboards, website analytics, social media listening, and tools such as IBM Watson, marketers now have access to dynamic data. Real-time insights can be used to determine whether to stay the course, make small changes or even to pivot if a campaign is truly failing. 

What does this look like in practice? McKinsey recently explored the case study of an insurance company that increased its productivity each year by 15 percent. When interviewed, the chief marketing officer said, “Marketing analytics have allowed us to make every decision we made before, better.” This company isn’t alone. In another highlighted case study, an appliance manufacturer spent its multi-million-dollar budget on advertising across TV, radio, web channels and developing its own digital presence. An analysis of the buyer’s journey revealed that customers were researching online, yet fewer than 9 percent actually visited the manufacturer’s website. By using this intel to shift from general advertising to distributor sites, e-commerce sales increased by 21 percent.

Reading the Signs: Did Your Campaign Succeed or Fail?

Understanding how to interpret analytics is one of the most critical elements for turning data into insights . . . and insights into action. Brands making the most of their investments in analytics to improve their overall marketing ROI tend to focus on a few key areas:

  • Evaluating intersection points between the buyer’s journey and marketing channel: In today’s omni-channel environment, it’s possible for any brand to launch a thousand different campaigns. Key factors include using historical analytics and an understanding of the buyer’s journey to determine which marketing channels are most effective for reaching one’s audience.
  • Tying real-time KPIs to the campaign’s goals: It’s possible to measure almost any aspect of a marketing campaign. What is essential is measuring the appropriate features. An effective campaign to leverage dynamic data sets a small number of high-priority, real-time KPIs that are tied to the campaign’s goals, and then reports on them at regular intervals. If campaigns are falling below expectations, it’s time to dig deeper and find out why. However, if campaigns are exceeding expectations, that may prompt further investment.
  • Knowing when to pull the plug: The most difficult part of campaign management is seeing the signs of failure and taking action. When data was historic, it was much easier to say that it was unfortunate that a campaign didn’t work and that insights could be incorporated later. Today, marketers have the ability to pull media buys, change messaging, and pivot or kill campaigns that aren’t working. Taking action can save money, prevent brand damage, and allow marketers to relaunch more effective campaigns. It’s crucial to determine what that threshold looks like and have a plan of action if the numbers reveal that a campaign is in the danger zone.

Why Post-Mortems Shouldn’t Disappear

As real-time analytics become more accessible, marketers are hearing the refrain: “The post-mortem is dead.” While it’s absolutely true that real-time monitoring, pivots, and improvements are part of managing a modern campaign, there’s no need to give up on post-mortems just yet. Their role in the marketing ecosystem has simply evolved. Instead of letting marketers see — after the fact — how campaigns have performed, post-mortems now have a different role in integrating strategic planning into the learning process. They create a space in which to reflect, help the team internalize key lessons, and develop feedback loops that incorporate real-time insights into future planning.

Consider the following for developing effective post-mortems:

  • Make them part of the project plan from the start. Schedule them into the campaign’s master schedule, and share the KPIs and questions you’ll be evaluating before the campaign begins so that everyone is focusing on the appropriate metrics.
  • Consider a post-campaign survey for everyone involved to gather insights in a low-pressure environment. Combine these with your analytics for a 360-degree view of what actually occurred. Set up a wrap session where everything is discussed and there’s an opportunity to brainstorm additional insights.
  • Focus on the takeaways. Distill the knowledge and feedback into a clear action plan. What will you do differently in future campaigns? What type of follow-up is required with this campaign if it’s ongoing; or with team members, vendors, or technology set-ups to capitalize on what you’ve learned?

Better analytics tools are helping marketers capture meaningful gains in their ROI. From the planning phases to real-time campaign monitoring to conducting post-mortems, it is critical to develop a clear timeline and strategy for evaluating the success of each campaign. Marketers who take this extra step will be continually improving their performance and be making the most of their technology-driven insights. 

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