There Is Plenty of “What” – We Need More “Why”

Each year millions and millions of dollars are leaving the traditional advertising channels and headed toward digital marketing efforts thanks not only to strong results but also the ability to show what happened, where and WHY. One of the best things going for digital, aside from a constantly evolving channel, is the access and granularity that comes with the corresponding results data. All this data sometimes causes search marketers to wear two hats, part marketer & part detective.

Too often account managers/executives find themselves just discussing the WHAT. “Clicks increased 25% WoW, CTR decreased to 2.1% MoM”, the list could go on forever. Why did those clicks increase? Did a new promo run? Did a commercial air during the Oscars? Time needs to be spent analyzing the why and the internal and external effects of our efforts; without it we will never fully grasp how we and the client are performing.

Yes, with the evolution of paid marketing over the past 6 years it has become more challenging, I won’t argue that. There have been additional levers added in (enhanced campaigns and all the new capabilities with that) and new features that require flipping over more stones and crunching more numbers than ever with no signs of it becoming easier and new services and opportunities being announced almost daily, it seems. That said, it still is possible to uncover why results did what they did.

Time needs to be invested in deeply understanding why numbers are moving in the direction that they are. What are we doing as marketers that is moving the needle either up or down? Is there the ability to continue to do so, or have we hit a plateau and need to focus our efforts pushing in another direction?

It is also important to remember to leverage our agency/in-house counterpart. If the reason isn’t at the surface and jumping right out, discuss what you are seeing with either your agency team or the in-house contact. They may know right off the bat what caused the spike or decline in performance week over week or month over month. This will save everyone time, but if the answer isn’t so easy to find it is important to spend the time needed to determine the cause. Utilize your analytics platform, top movers report or even the old faithful Excel sheet to determine the cause. Knowing this will allow your successes to be throttled harder and losses to be understood clearly and re-tried or corrected.

Don’t settle for just the WHAT, make sure you are always asking WHY?

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