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Marketing Analytics Dos and Don’ts

Anyone who works in marketing knows that analytics is a prerequisite for their job. 

You probably start your day by: 

  1. looking at performance dashboards
  2. reporting the important numbers to your boss 
  3. making decisions based on what the analytics indicate 

Or at least that’s what most marketers preach.

Let’s review the Dos and Don’ts of marketing analytics so that you can make the most of your data. 

1. DON’T: Mess up tracking 

It all begins with gathering all the data, and gathering it correctly. 

In order to do that, you need to make sure you’ve implemented all the different tracking codes for the various tools and marketing channels you are using. 

These include tracking codes for your analytics tools such as Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics, or third-party cookies, pixels and codes for the marketing platforms and channels you use, e.g. the Facebook pixel for your Facebook ads or the Criteo One Tag.

Usually, it is convenient to use a tag container like Google Tag Manager which - as the word container implies - is a platform where you can implement all your tags in one place.

A tracking code is usually a short javascript snippet that you place into your website. 

However, you’d also want to implement events for specific actions that people take on your website, e.g. add to cart, purchase, add payment details, sign up etc.

***Keep in mind that if you have a website and an app you’ll need separate tracking implementations for each one. Moreover, iOS and Android will have different tracking codes that you need to insert into your app.

All major analytics tools and marketing platforms have their own documentation on how to place their tracking codes on your website and app.

Make sure to implement the tags and events as instructed by the documentation, otherwise your tags might be sending the wrong events, or not firing at all. The consequence is that you might not be getting any data, or receiving the wrong data which means that all your reporting will be off!

2. DO: Test and verify that your tags are tracking properly

After you implement all your tags it’s crucial to make sure that they actually fire correctly. 

Most analytics tools and tag managers have a live or testing view so that you can check your tags and events in real time.

***A good tip is to act as a real user by following the typical journey that they would take and see if you’re capturing all the events on the right pages. 

Moreover, make sure to use different devices, browsers and operating systems (desktop, tablet, both iOS and Android for mobile) as they might have different implementations or technical requirements.

Also, cross-check your different analytics tools and sources for discrepancies when it comes to the same event or metric. A variance up to 10-15% is acceptable as different analytics tools might have a different definition for a metric that can be found on other tools, or tags might fire differently across platforms.

3. DO: Integrate your different marketing sources

It’s easy to get lost into all the different reporting tools and marketing channels that you are using. 

Your company and the C-level executives will want to have one point of reference for reporting, so it’s essential that you integrate all your different data sources.

For this, you will need an ETL tool like Improvado and likely a data warehouse like Google BigQuery (which comes free with Improvado) or Amazon Redshift. 

An ETL tool like Improvado will help you connect all your marketing data into a single source of truth without having to spend time and valuable engineering resources to create pipelines that might or might not work properly. 

Improvado will carry out all the integrations for your tools, hassle-free, so you can focus on the marketing and business activities to grow your company.

4. DON’T:  Waste time on vanity metrics, choose the right KPIs

With all the metrics and dimensions in your database you might be tempted to track every little thing that is available to you.

However, don’t go down the rabbit hole of vanity metrics that don’t really matter to your business. 

For example, no matter how interesting it is to see how many people liked your Facebook posts (which is a metric available to you via the Facebook Marketing API), if it doesn’t assist or correlate your business goals like sales or leads, there is no point in creating marketing reports for such metrics.

Focus on the KPIs that align with your business goals. In most cases, those should be ROI, revenue, sales, Customer Lifetime Value, Leads etc. 

***You can of course track secondary metrics or micro-conversions as well, as long as they represent meaningful actions that users carry out on your website or app, e.g. reading your blog posts, how much time they spend on your website, adding something to cart but not buying etc.

5. DO: Create relevant reports and dashboards for different stakeholders

After gathering all your data in one place through an ETL you should start building dashboards for the stakeholders in your organization.

Remember that every department is interested in different metrics and levels of data granularity. 

A report / dashboard for the CEO or CFO should be limited to the big picture; KPIs such as ROI, revenue, active users are the things they will be mainly interested in. 

A CMO might want to see the performance of each marketing channel, whereas performance marketing managers will want to dig deeper and check the performance of each individual campaign.

The best way to find out what your colleagues need in a dashboard is talk to them and ask them questions about their business goals and what is important to them on a daily basis. 

Find what metrics better represent the goals that they have and incorporate them into the dashboard. 

***Your dashboards will not be perfect the first time you create them. Keep getting feedback from the various stakeholders and improve them accordingly.

6. DON’T: Build overwhelming/confusing reports. Use your reports to ask business questions and produce actionable insights

Dashboards are usually more useful when they don’t overwhelm the user with a myriad of metrics and numbers.

Instead, they should point out trends and data points that can be used as insights to help decision-making.

Instead of trying to just depict a metric that you think is useful, try to answer a business question with the right data. For example, you could try and find information on questions like “Who are my most valuable customers?” or “Which marketing channels are the most effective for acquiring leads?”. 

Questions like these will guide you on what charts and reports to create, but they will also help the user make decisions based on your business data. 

If, for example, your reports show that your most valuable customers are people aged 25-35 who read your blog posts about new electronic gadgets, you could create more content like that and also promote similar products.

Or, if you find out that Facebook and Snapchat generate quality leads with a lower cost compared to other channels, you could shift your marketing budget and effort toward social media to improve your overall performance.

7. DO: Focus on attribution

One of the biggest challenges that marketers face is that the customer journey has become more convoluted due to the presence of multiple touchpoints and the fact that every marketing channel will report numbers differently.

Thus, it becomes increasingly difficult for companies to know how to spend their budget effectively and have visibility on the true performance of each channel.

All marketing channels will have a bias in favor of their own data and will tend to attribute all conversions to their platform regardless of how many other channels were present in the customer journey.

By gathering all your data from various marketing channels into one place you can oversee the performance of all marketing activities in a more holistic way.

Here’s a simple example of how Improvado can pull together data from multiple marketing platforms in a way that makes it easy to make data-driven decisions about which channels are working best to drive revenue for the business.  

Since you can connect the touchpoints (all clicks, impressions, ad spend, sales revenue) from Search, Social Media, Newsletter, Affiliates in a unified way, you can create or use pre-existing attribution models to weigh the contribution of each channel to your business results.

By doing this, you’ll be able to make better decisions when it comes to how to allocate your budget and you’ll save money by reducing the spend on channels that underperform.

8. DO: Make analytics part of your company culture

In order to make the most out of the above points, your company needs to embrace marketing analytics as part of its mindset. 

Decisions should be data-driven and analytics should be in the core of your marketing team.

Companies that neglect data and analytics do it at their own peril.

Those who utilize data-driven principles will be able to take advantage of marketing channels in a much more efficient way, without wasting dollars on activities that can't prove their value.

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