When it comes to data-informed decision-making and results-driven marketing, inbound marketers pretty much take the prize. (Not that I’m biased or anything.) But really. We can get pretty obsessed with outcome metrics, KPIs and conversion rate optimization.
Some of the numbers we look at tell a straightforward story. Other times, marketers need to dig a little deeper to uncover the “why.”
And that’s where the fun really starts.
Say, last month you experienced an overall spike in traffic. You dug into the source report to find that referral traffic was higher than usual. You dug in further to see that a high-traffic site linked to one of your blog posts. Traffic from this referral source was strong enough to largely account for the positive variance in site traffic.
Done. You’ve uncovered the “why”.
For a talented marketer, uncovering the “why” isn’t so much the problem. Documenting the “why” behind these variable trends is the problem.
And when we’re not keeping good tabs on our inferences, then all these great insights tend to get lost as time passes. For instance, how often have you looked back at variances in metrics and thought… I know I looked into why our lead gen spiked that month, but what was the reason again? And you find yourself repeating the same data sleuthing exercise that you’ve already done.
Additionally, by documenting the “why” behind variances in performance metrics, you are better positioned to identify larger, meta-level patterns.
A great tool for documenting variances in traffic and lead metrics is the HubSpot Marketing Actions tool.
You can access the “Marketing Actions” tool from the HubSpot Sources dashboard in the upper right hand corner.
The tool was created so marketers could make notes right in the sources dashboard about specific marketing actions. But you can get even more mileage out of the tool by using it to document actions and inferences.
For instance, take the traffic spike example outlined earlier in this post.
Logging Marketing Actions
In this example, we would log the high-traffic site that linked to our website, including the publish date for the referral source blog post.
Logging Marketing Inferences
In addition to logging specific marketing actions or events, this tool is great for noting high-level inferences into traffic and lead variances. To keep things clean and straightforward, we’ve found it useful to post monthly inference summaries on the last day of each month.
Tip: The viewing window for Marketing Actions can get a little cluttered – especially if you have a lot of batch emails and instant email notifications running. So, to help custom marketing actions/events and inferences stand out, try assigning copy-and-paste symbols to your updates. We use “★” for custom actions/events and “♛” for end-of-month summaries.
Developing a systematic way to log inferences around data variances will save you from having to re-answer those “why” questions months down the road. Additionally, it’s a great way to support team-wide access to these insights.
What tools or systems do you use to log and share data insights?