I wrote last week asking why we were spending so much time tracking open rates, and it got me thinking about what we are and are not tracking and why it’s so important. Fact is, if you are spending money whether your own or your company’s, you better be tracking what is happening with it.
I know it gets complicated when we have long sales cycles and it takes us longer to digest data and track true return. I also know that return is something that doesn’t stop, it keeps going. And I also know how difficult it is to tie one specific piece of content, or one action from a sales person to a closed deal.
Let’s consider for a moment that you don’t track anything. You may look at open rates, and click-throughs and perhaps even how many people filled out a form and what those people looked like profile wise. But that’s all you are tracking. It stops there and doesn’t continue throughout the entire life-cycle of the lead.
You need to think about this differently. Something is broken with this scenario and it may be the tools you are using to track information. It may be the people and the thought process involved in digging into the data and looking at it in the right way. It may be you don’t care at all and if sales numbers are meeting forecast, then who the heck cares how they got there?
You should care. You need to care.
How do you make decisions without tracking? How do you know the vendors that you are working with and paying are giving you what you expected to get? How do you know if a certain topic is resonating with your audience while another is not so much?
Forget the end of the pipeline for a second, and focus on the top of the funnel. What you are putting in, should spit out at the bottom whether in a closed won deal or a closed lost opportunity. But in order for that to happen, you need to be tracking what you spend to fill the funnel because you are most likely spending money to do so.
Here are 4 things you can do today to either 1) see if you have tracking data or 2) take the steps necessary to start tracking:
1. Run reports. Sounds simple enough but you should be doing this either on a weekly, monthly and quarterly basis. Take every single tool you have in place and pull reports out of it. I haven’t met a software yet that didn’t have a reporting function, so run the data. See where the holes are. See what you are working with. What fields do you have available to you to track against? Turn it into a pivot table and toggle around with it.
2. Find out how everyone else is doing it. I take advantage of my time at industry events to see how everyone else is doing what I am either doing or know can be done but haven’t figured out how. You also notice if you follow me on Twitter that I ask questions a lot. I may already have the answer, but I want your answer. Often the responses I get back make me consider things differently and I have improved my processes over time.
3. Ask your executive team what information they would like to know. I would assume you, or someone at least, is reporting up to senior management. What are you sharing with them vs. what they would like to see? Do you have an answer for every single one of their questions? Or do they not ask any questions because you are providing them everything they wanted to know?
4. What questions do you have that you cannot answer? This has proven extremely effective for me. As an example, I often look at performance of my third party vendors. I want to know what I got back for the money I spent, is their audience the one I am trying to reach, do they have the programs that I want to run? If I cannot answer any of my own questions with the data I have access to, then I figure out how to gain access to it.
If you are spending money, then you better be tracking. Are you?