Welcome to another episode, B2B Marketing & More. I have a very special guest today: Janet Driscoll Miller. Janet is the author of Data-First Marketing. She is the President and CEO of Marketing Mojo, specialized in digital ads, SEO and analytics.
Today Janet shares data-first marketing tips, and how to put data at the beginning of what businesses need to do.
In this episode:
- What is data-first marketing and how it is different from data-driven?
- How can marketers become data-first focused?
- How to create multiple personas?
- Basic data-first marketing tips for marketing and sales
- How to plan the process to track data during a marketing campaign?
- How to assess the effectiveness of the data-first marketing effort?
- Data-First marketing book templates.
- What are some of the common mistakes encountered when harnessing the data?
- How should marketers consolidate and analyze data in a holistic way?
Quotes from the episode:
“In data-first, we’re talking about how you make sure that you have accurate reporting from the very beginning. That you’re tracking everything correctly to understand how you’re impacting those business goals throughout the lifecycle of a campaign.”
“You want to make sure that everything is consistent. So come up with a plan for your organization to approach tagging and have a standard. And then, when you do that, that makes it a little bit easier to ensure that the tagging is done consistently across the whole organization”
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Welcome to another episode, B2B Marketing & More. I have a very special guest today: Janet Driscoll Miller. She is the author of Data-First Marketing. She is the President and CEO of Marketing Mojo, specialized in digital ads, SEO and analytics. Welcome, Janet. How do you feel today?
Janet Driscoll Miller: I feel great. My health is back, and I’m feeling fantastic. So it’s a great time to be out and, you know, it’s spring. Love being outside. So you’re in Raleigh; I’m in Charlottesville. So I’m not too far from you. And you know, this time of year is beautiful. So it’s great to be out and enjoying spring.
Pam Didner: Yeah, excellent! All right. Let’s talk about data-first marketing. You wrote a book about that. Can you tell us what is data-first marketing and how it is different from, say, data-driven?
Janet Driscoll Miller: Yeah, everybody wants to be data-driven in marketing. We all talk about it, but unfortunately, I think that many folks miss the boat on putting data at the beginning of what they’re doing. So as an example, what we want to think about is we want to think about those goals that we attribute to our business.
So what are the business’ goals? Often, it’s going to be revenue or ROI or lead generation.
We want to put that at the beginning and understand fully how we’re going to measure that throughout our campaigns. To be able to predict and measure throughout the campaign. And so, unfortunately, I often think marketers feel like you have to just measure at the end of the campaign and then assess what happened. But in data-first, we’re talking about how you make sure that you have accurate reporting from the very beginning. That you’re tracking everything correctly to understand how you’re impacting those business goals throughout the lifecycle of a campaign.
Pam Didner: Like the creative concept, the copywriting, you know, the social media, everything is very, very important. But what you are trying to say is put the data first. If you want to do that, you have to set the processes in parallel to track them while you are developing your campaigns. Is that correct?
Janet Driscoll Miller: Yeah. And then, as you’re planning this out, we talk about we have a campaign framework, and one of the things, as an example, that’s the beginning of that framework, is using your persona data, right? Who am I creating this content for? And making sure you’re speaking to their needs in that content you create and put that as part of your plan. But then, then how do you distribute that content? Where do these personas hang out? Where do they interact? And so, at every step of the campaign, that persona data is very important. But are we using that to plan the entire campaign and define whom we’re trying to attract and then measure on the backend and throughout the campaign if we’re achieving that goal of getting to that specific persona?
Pam Didner: I 100% agree.
Persona is the number one thing that the marketer needs to decide on whom we should talk to.
Who is the person that we should market to? Unfortunately, working in the corporate world for a long time, the salespeople would probably want to focus on decision-makers. Then the product team probably want to focus on the broad end-users. And then marketing was like, “you know what? We should focus on a specific job title.”
And I have come to realize that even internally, on the client-side or the brands within the company, if you will, they have a hard time determining who the target audience is. But I agree with you about making that decision. Making that as tight as possible in terms of who your audience is can help you determine your content and editorial and have greater success in your measurement.
Janet Driscoll Miller: I was just going to add that sometimes you have more than one persona as your target audience. For instance, if you’re selling HR software while the HR user might be the user of your software, the reality is the IT Department is involved in that decision-making process. Say you have two audiences with two different sets of challenges and needs of information that they need, that the marketing department would need to address in different ways. So that’s where that persona information and understanding the data and how people buy your product are critical.
That conversation between marketing and sales to fully understand all the players in this and how we need to address those audiences with our content and our reach.
Pam Didner: Understood. From my perspective, the number of the persona is often also determined by the marketing budget. And I have clients that want to talk to everybody, but they have finite resources and budgets. And my recommendation is always like, can you prioritize? You need to prioritize. You need to prioritize. You need to prioritize.
Okay, so data first, and then we need to set up the front measurement and think through how we can measure that. How can a company or the marketing team assess how well they do in a data-first type of marketing effort? How can they have a baseline?
Janet Driscoll Miller: We created it in the book at the end of chapter four. The book has two sections: the first part sets up the problem and talks about why we need data first marketing. The second part of the book is more action-oriented; how do I start getting on the right path?
So in between those two parts of the book, around chapter four is the assessment.
And you can take this assessment and see where your marketing organization ranks on the marketing maturity model—the data-first marketing maturity model. And so, ultimately, no one will be perfect at this, right. We’re all growing every day, and it’s a matter of understanding where I am today, assessing where I am today as a marketing organization and how I grow to improve? And what steps should I take? And that’s what section two of the book helps you do once you’ve assessed where you are; how do I move my marketing organization further along that path? And what steps do we need to take?
Pam Didner: Do you have a specific DIY template in the book that people can use to do their assessments?
Janet Driscoll Miller: Yeah, that’s what the assessment does. It’s just, it’s like a quiz, and you just take the quiz and answer the questions. And at the end, it will tell you to tally up the score. Now we have a sample of that on the data. The first marketing book website it’s data-firstmarketing.com. And you can take a sample assessment. It’s a smaller assessment that gives you an idea of where you might rank currently on the assessment.
Pam Didner: Very good. So with that being said, can you share with us when people would try to assess a data-first, the marketing, or even tried to implement it? What are some of the common mistakes that you see marketers tend to encounter when harnessing the data?
Janet Driscoll Miller: One of the biggest ones I see is with Google Analytics. Almost everyone uses Google Analytics. It’s very ubiquitous in the marketing world. And one of the bigger challenges I see is incorrect tagging.
Pam Didner: Oh my God. I hear you. I hear you look in my eyes, sad and crying.
Janet Driscoll Miller: It’s so depressing because tagging can make or break you. And whether it’s accurate. And, um, just as an example, um, we had a client the other day who set up something called a tracking template in Google Ads. It automatically overwrote all of the standard UTM tagging done in Google Ads for you for Google Analytics. And when it came in, it overwrote all of the valuable information we had.
We had to take and rectify that situation to better understand people coming into the site from Google Ads and what they were doing, and how they were engaging with the site.
Pam Didner: I hear you. And this is more important for the pay side. Would you agree?
Janet Driscoll Miller: I was going to say, I also think for organic though; like if you’re doing organic social sharing and things like that, I think that’s critical too because you want to make sure that you understand those investments the resources that you’re using. Is it paying off? What do people do when they come to your site from a Twitter post? Right. You still want to know that information.
Sometimes Google Analytics is good at assessing when someone is coming inorganically through a social channel. Still, it’s not a hundred per cent, so it’s always better to tag if you can. So I would even say for organic social in particular, but, as you said, paid. And also, I think email marketing.
Pam Didner: Oh yeah.
Janet Driscoll Miller: Unfortunately, when someone’s coming through an email, they’re not coming from a browser.
There is no referral source. It just looks like direct traffic. And so you want to know, did they come from an email? So email marketing is another place I think it’s critical to have UTM tagging.
Pam Didner: The bottom line is to tag everything.
Janet Driscoll Miller: Tag all things. Yes, tag all things and do it correctly. The other thing I would say is we mentioned in the book. Many people don’t always realize that capitalization matters with a UTM tag.
Pam Didner: Really? I didn’t know that.
Janet Driscoll Miller: Yes. And so, for instance, tagging, like, let’s say LinkedIn, let’s say your source is LinkedIn if you use a capital L and a capital, I, for LinkedIn that is different from all lowercase.
Pam Didner: Does that mean that you have to create multiple possible tagging in case people use it differently?
Janet Driscoll Miller: What we typically recommend is that you develop a nomenclature for your organization and develop standards. And just to make it simple, like what we do in our organization is everything’s all lowercase all the time, making it easy. Because otherwise, you know, it’ll see the capital L and the capital I as a separate source from the lowercase. And then your data is segmented, so you don’t want it segmented.
So ideally, you want to make sure that everything is consistent. So come up with a plan for your organization to approach tagging and have a standard. And then, when you do that, that makes it a little bit easier to ensure that the tagging is done consistently across the whole organization.
Pam Didner: I hear you. I hear you. It’s much harder in a big organization because there are probably too many cooks in the kitchen. Right. And there are probably several people doing the UTM and tagging, of course, a month. They probably need to have a standard process, and they should be the go-to source to get the UTM and the tagging done.
And I have come to realize, well, in digital marketing specifically, the processes and workflows are supercritical.
To be a modern marketer, I think that’s a specific skill set or marketing discipline that a marketer needs to possess.
Janet Driscoll Miller: Absolutely. I agree a hundred per cent.
Pam Didner: Another thing I would like to ask you, specifically: analytics tend to be fragmented. For example, my client has a podcast, and we use Chartable. We use Libsyn, and Libsyn is a syndication platform for that. They also have in-house analytics, you know, as a part of a platform. And we also use a third-party platform to track demographics to complement the analytics we cannot get from Libsyn. And then, of course, we’ll blog post, and you use probably everybody uses Google Analytics in a certain way. Different channels, if you will, have different analytics like Twitter. Yes. How should marketers go about consolidating if that’s a possibility of looking at all the data in a very holistic way? And I found that very difficult and challenging sometimes.
Janet Driscoll Miller: Absolutely. I think it’s one of the bigger challenges. The first thing you have to consider is that many times these different analytics platforms – whether they be owned by Twitter and Facebook or whoever – is that the way they track may not be the same way that Google Analytics tracks. So the first step is understanding how each one tracks. A good example of that is, for instance, when we set up goals in Google Analytics, those goals can tend to be a 30-day window–30-day look-back window. And save –and the same thing with Google Ads.
That’s not necessarily true for, say, Facebook. It may be different.
And so, understanding how the different platforms track and measure differently is important, but that’s why I like to try as best I can to keep everything in Google Analytics that I can. That’s why tagging is so important. But in certain cases, we go to podcast platforms or even YouTube, where someone’s watching a video that may not be translating into your Google Analytics because it’s on a separate site or a separate platform.
And they’re not on your website. And so, um, what I recommend is generally having a dashboard that you can create, and there are so many great dashboarding tools that are free or low cost. Um, I love using Data Studio from Google. It’s fantastic.
Pam Didner: That seems to be very popular by default.
Janet Driscoll Miller: Yeah, it’s really, it’s very, quite simple for users to use and learn. But there are great tools if you can’t get to all the data and don’t know how to pull it. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Zapier; it’s an API.
Pam Didner: Yes, that’s an API you can use like, um, if…
Janet Driscoll Miller: Yes, conditional stations.
Pam Didner: … you will connect the different data between two different systems.
Janet Driscoll Miller: And that’s helpful for multiple third-party platforms and pulling your data in.
For instance, I use a platform called Infusion Soft. It’s now KEAP.
Pam Didner: K-E-A-P?
Janet Driscoll Miller: They just changed their brand maybe a year or two ago. To integrate that data with my Salesforce or pull data out of there, I just use Zapier to pull that into a Google sheet and then put it into Data Studio. So there are many great tools you can use that are free or low cost that can help you pull that data out and put it in one location. That way, you can have a single view of what’s going on, analytically, with the site and the different initiatives.
Pam Didner: Does that mean that brands need to have a technical person in-house or part of the team to make that happen?
Janet Driscoll Miller: It’s certainly helpful to have someone technically knowledgeable–especially around the analytics piece–and who can do this type of programming. But the good news is with tools like Zapier. You don’t have to know a lot of HTML or technical. You have a lot of technical knowledge to set that up very simply and easily. So marketers should not feel intimidated by pulling this data in because so many great tools like Zapier can make it simple. You don’t need a lot of technical knowledge to operate it.
Pam Didner: So it sounds like you need to know why you need to measure.
And the next step with data is fragmented. There are ways–Zapier is one of the great tools–that you can connect where the tool is and pull that information if you use any kind of BI platform and let’s say it’s Google Data Studio. You can use API to pull that information into a Data Studio. There’s one dashboard in one central place to view all your measurement and the metrics.
Janet Driscoll Miller: Exactly. Also, you can use Google Sheets to pull into Google Data Studio. So you can pull all the data into Google Sheets and then do calculations if you want. So another good example of using that is I’ll pull in data from Google Analytics. Still, maybe I want to flip the dimensions, a metric. Sometimes, I do want to do that. And I can do that by pulling it into Google Sheets and then importing it into Data Studio. They’re often a workaround. You can do calculations by using Google Sheets as well, then, and then using that to be a feeder into Data Studio.
Pam Didner: So Excel and Google Sheets are still by default!
Our way of tracking metrics. I mean, I don’t think we ever get out of that. Seriously. I’m still using Excel sheets all the time.
Janet Driscoll Miller: I joke with people that when I hire young folks out of college to start a career in digital marketing, I like to make sure that they love Excel and spreadsheets because that’s a lot of what we do.
Pam Didner: I agree. Yeah, it’s true. Yeah. If I’m looking for anybody who can help me out with analytics and have a fairly in-depth knowledge of Google Analytics. And another thing I 100% agree with you, the requirement is to know how to work on the pivot tables and write the macro in Excel.
All right. If you can advise our listeners or people watching the video to focus on one specific effort right now to get closer to data-first marketing, what would that be?
Janet Driscoll Miller: Well, what’s right in front of us. Is this Google Analytics 4 migration. I don’t love it.
Pam Didner: So, do that migration?
Janet Driscoll Miller: Well, you need to start thinking about the migration today because Google will sunset universal analytics for most users unless you’re a 360 user, which is a paid user of Google Analytics. They’re going to sunset universal analytics on July 1st, 2023. So that means you’re going to be forced to use GA4 starting July 1st of next year, 2023.
So you should start thinking about that migration now and start tracking that data in a GA4 property now, so that come next year, on July 1st, you have year over year data. The other challenge is that Google will erase information and historical data by December 1st, 2023.
Pam Didner: Once you migrate to GA4, that data remains intact. Is that correct?
Janet Driscoll Miller: No, it will not come over to GA4, so anything that happens with GA4 will start today when you start with your GA4 property and track from today forward. So it won’t have historical data in the GA4 property.
It’ll still be in the UA property, the old one, until December 1st, 2023, when Google eradicates it. So you need to download that now.
Pam Didner: Really? So it’s a complete deletion; even if you migrate to GA4, that data will not stay around?
Janet Driscoll Miller: It will be gone. And so, yeah, not, not ideal. I’m sure it’s going to be some backlash with Google. Maybe they’ll change their mind. But as of right now, that’s the situation. So it’s important to have a migration plan for GA4. Some of the things don’t translate over. For instance, I use something called content groupings, which allows me as a marketer to say, “here’s all my PDF, or here are all my white papers, here are all my blog posts,” and things like that. So I can pull the data in a group.
Pam Didner: A dumbed-down version of a content management library. And like, you have like content managing library by different formats of your content.
Janet Driscoll Miller: Exactly. And so, there are many marketers out there who might use content groupings. Content groupings are currently programmed via the universal analytics, the current analytics interface. So you go in there and say, “here are the items I want. All the things in this subfolder are white papers, you know, that sort of thing.” In the new GA4, it’s done programmatically.
So what you have to do is tag the pages themselves on your website instead of doing it in the interface.
There are some items that you may be using today in universal analytics that don’t translate the same way into GA4, which is partly why it’s so important to have a migration plan and think through all of these things now.
Pam Didner: Right now. Very good insight. Speaking of a GA4 migration, I’m going to start mine in the coming month, but I’m doing a couple of my clients’ site migration this week. Just started trying to capture that information moving forward. Like you said. Very good. Hey, uh, Janet, it is wonderful talking to you. I am so happy that we connected again, and then you reached out in January and, uh, so happy that you are cancer-free. You look fantastic. Keep up the good health and the good work. And, uh, maybe next time you can come back and talk about GA4.
Janet Driscoll Miller: Absolutely. I’m going to work up an ebook on it because it is so complicated. I probably don’t need to tell you that it is so complex and challenging since you’re working on this with clients right now.
Pam Didner: Yeah, that’s why marketers, all the brands’ marketers, all the agency and things just started doing that migration.
Janet Driscoll Miller: I think we’ve all been putting it off.
Pam Didner: Oh yeah, I know. It’s like when you’re away, that’s far away.
Janet Driscoll Miller: Over the last year, when I’ve been talking about analytics in-person conferences, I would just ask people, “how many of you have migrated or started a migration of GA4?” And out of maybe a hundred people in a room, maybe one or two people have raised their hand. Yeah. It’s not something anyone wants to bite off, but we know we have to do it now. We’re being forced to do it. So it’s important to prioritize it.
Pam Didner: Very good. If you are listening to or watching this specific video and you are using Google analytics as your main platform to track your metrics, make sure you start looking into your migration plan as soon as possible. You won’t regret it. All right. Very good, Janet. It’s wonderful to have you. Thank you so much for coming to my show.
Janet Driscoll Miller: Thank you, Pam. It was great. Thanks for having me.