Data Analysis for Digital Agencies – It’s Not Just for Geeks Anymore

With data democratization, marketing agencies can focus on improving results, not reporting on them.

In his book Dealing with Darwin, Geoffrey Moore discusses the concept of core versus context:

Core is any activity that creates sustainable differentiation in the target market resulting in premium prices or increased volume. Core management seeks to dramatically outperform all competitors within the domain of core.

Context is any activity that does not differentiate the company from the customer’s viewpoint in the target market. Context management seeks to meet, but not exceed, appropriate accepted standards in as productive a manner as possible.

In the agency world, the main core activity is improving client account performance. The main context activity is reporting on it.

Successful agencies focus on improving their client’s account performance as measured by website traffic, number of signups, or any number of other metrics. If they are managing the client’s SEM, they spend their time optimizing keywords and bids, ad copy and targeting. If they are managing their SEO, they work to optimize and promote the site, create unique content and make the user experience as pleasant as possible. Their ability to perform better than another agency is determined by their knowledge of the client’s industry, proprietary strategies and superior creativity.

To support all of this, they monitor a wide range of parameters – CTR, CPC, page rankings, traffic volume, bounce rates, and more, both to inform their work and to demonstrate to their clients that they are making progress. But because this effort isn’t a core activity, as Moore points out, they try to be as efficient as possible; by using standard reports across clients, by reporting as infrequently as possible, and if they are large enough, by having an internal group that focuses on reporting.

The end of data silos, long live data silos

In this environment one of the main challenges is that the data, and therefore the insights, exists in multiple systems – Google Analytics, AdWords, Facebook and Marketo, – just to name a few. And the people using the data are also usually focused on a single piece of the pie. Clients often have one agency doing their SEO, another their SEM, and others doing their social media and e-mail campaigns. Obviously this makes it very hard for single agency to have a holistic view of what’s going on in the account. Even when a single agency is doing all the parts, the SEM people typically look at SEM data and make SEM recommendation, and the SEO people look at SEO data and make SEO recommendations…even though the outcomes are frequently the result of a combination of factors.

And then the client has an idea….

Often the first time the client sees the data is at a monthly meeting where it is presented along with the agency’s analysis and their recommendations as to what needs to be done next. This process doesn’t take into account any insights or additional information the client might have, including changes that they made or problems that they were aware of but the agency wasn’t. In most cases this includes what the other agencies were doing. This often results in the need for additional reporting and analysis and delays the implementing new strategies.

Mr. Agency, tear down this wall

What is needed is a system whereby all the people working on the account – agencies, consultants and the client, have access to as much data as possible and the ability to analyze that data in real-time as they come up with new ideas, try new things, and work with each other. Static, infrequent, disparate reporting may be the current ‘context’ standard, but those agencies interested in focusing on, and improving, their core activity – improving client account performance – have an opportunity to not only make reporting a competitive advantage, but also make it much more efficient.

In short, the key is to not just make reporting more efficient, but also the analysis more insightful.

In the ideal situation, everyone involved in the account will have access to all the relevant data, in real-time, with a tool that is simple enough to use that it doesn’t require special skills or training to use. This will change the process from one where the agency makes changes, collects results, presents the results, gets feedback and then repeats, to a process of ongoing, real-time collaboration, which will allow the agencies to focus on what they are best at, and want to do – their core activities.

Einsights has this tool today, so if your goal is to spend more time on core activities and less on context, please contact us to learn more.

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