Futility and other feelings:
a marketing analytics study

Action items

We’re moving forward to solve these issues for all marketers, but we’re starting at home. After we collected and analyzed all the survey responses, we wondered how this applies to us as Grasp Metrics the company. One meeting later we organized a brainstorming session, aiming to create some clarity and momentum on the issues we uncovered.

We agreed that things are hard — or at least they feel hard — because of the futility of the work. If your team doesn’t believe that what they’re doing is rewarding or necessary, they will have a tougher time doing that. We want to share key learnings with you in hope of helping you and your team out.

A hand-drawn illustration of a hand holding a stack of papers, and another holding a magnifying glass.

Ask The Team

Map out which tasks and activities are important for your team, and which ones are difficult. Compile the list of tasks together, but then ask everyone in your team to rank these activities individually. Talk about the results, find what you have in common, and discuss the differences. Use it as the tool to do the following:

  • Figure out the level of the skill-sets that your team has — or lacks — so you can make moves to fill in the gaps through education, staffing, or just by mixing things up to give everyone tasks they are most comfortable with.
  • Determine what platforms can help relieve some of the burden, and make your work (and life) easier. There are a lot of options out there, but we would recommend trying out Grasp Metrics first (nudge nudge, wink wink).
  • Question everything. There might be some tasks or activities that made sense at the time when they were introduced, but now they’re just a time-consuming habit. Discuss this with your team and act on what you find.
A hand-drawn illustration of a hand holding calculator and another holding a pie chart.

Limit the scope

Making reporting efficient is all about the scope, as usually there’s not too much time to ponder the meaning behind the data. That’s why we recommend examining and then narrowing the scope of your reports. This could help lower the turnaround time, make the process more efficient, and quite possibly generate better insights. Here’s what to consider: 

  • Simplify data analysis to a few crucial elements — just what’s important. We can’t stress this enough. Less is more, and our numbers confirm that.

  • Fewer KPIs — when it comes to reports, leave out anything that’s not a priority. Sometimes more data just creates noise that drowns out the really important insights.

  • If a data point doesn’t have a takeaway, then it doesn’t need to be reported on. The weather forecast for New York is of little interest to you unless you live there.

  • Bringing some fluff to your reports may sound compelling, but other people would be much happier with insights they can act upon. Nobody gives a shit about impressions.

A hand-drawn illustration of a handshake.

Reduce futility

It’s one thing to optimize report creation, but what about reading it? The futility we uncovered is directly connected to the feeling that no one is reading reports. To do that, it’s important to keep the reading party interested, and for that to happen the data must mean something. 

Making reports meaningful can be one of the two things: There’s either the data searching for a narrative OR a narrative searching for data. Said alternately, you either have numbers that need interpretation and understanding or you have an assumption or belief that needs the data to back it up. Bottom line — if there is no meaning, it sucks. Here’s how to make it suck less, and dare we say more enjoyable for your readers:

  • Lead with insights — not with data. Start with “Our customers are responding strongly to messaging in our last campaign” and follow up with data later, instead of highlighting “We had 423 shares on Facebook.”

  • Limit insights to three, especially if reporting is frequent. Give them just your top take-aways. Everything else is likely to tire or confuse them.

  • Measure report proximity to use, as sending reports on Friday afternoon ahead of a meeting on Tuesday is a good way to bury it under heaps of emails on Monday morning. Bonus:  a way to measure who’s reading it is to send out password-protected PDFs and see how many recipients will ask for passwords.

Still feeling frustrated? We can help with that.

Grasp Metrics makes monitoring your data easy — and delivers marketing reports that actually get read. Time to say goodbye to exports, spreadsheets & browser tab overload. Try it free for 30 days.

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