My job is to tell the marketing department how their online campaigns are performing. Trouble is, no one listens to me!
The other day, our VP asked me to pull together some numbers from one of our social media campaigns for the executive team. To be honest, the campaign was performing dismally, so I pointed out all the things that weren’t working and provided a detailed list of suggestions on how to improve performance.
Helpful information, right? Not so! The VP was furious and proceeded to disagree completely with my assertion that the campaign was failing. This happens all the time. People ask me to tell them how our campaigns are doing, and then they get mad if the truth isn’t what they want to hear. What’s up with that?
DON’T SHOOT THE MESSENGER IN SOUTH CAROLINA
Lots of us have been where you are, holding a fistful of helpful data that no one wants to see.
You have to remember that marketing is a creative endeavor — always has been, always will be. Marketing teams are used to getting together, hashing out ideas and trying new things. They know some will not work, but, in the past, they didn’t have a solid way to tell working from non-working campaigns.
Here’s my suggestion, Messenger: Take off your analyst hat and put on the educator hat instead, because there’s a huge difference between “You’re failing,” and “Here’s what we can learn.” As you have seen, no one likes getting a failing grade. They like it even less when they get it publicly at a meeting.
My Community Manager here at Webtrends had a campaign to get people to sign up for our education newsletter. We put links on Twitter and Facebook, both of which I could capture in my analysis packages (using our lovely Webtrends Analytics, Facebook Analytics, and Social Measurement tools, of course!).
After a couple of weeks, the Community Manager asked me to pull together the numbers and report on performance…and, um, the results weren’t stellar. In fact, they were dismal! Traffic from the campaigns accounted for less than 1% of the traffic to the training pages, and we wanted a 15% increase!
The Wrong Way
Now, I can go to my community manager and say, “Hey, look. This isn’t working at all. Maybe try blah, or blah, or blah-blah-blah.” It doesn’t matter what I recommend at this point, because my colleague only hears, “You failed.”
I can’t help make anything better, because I acted like an analyst, focusing only on the results.
A Better Way
What if I had been able to take off my analyst hat and talk to my colleague in a way that helped us both learn? “Yes, let’s sit down together and figure out how those campaigns are working. Can you remind me what this campaign’s goal was, so I have the right context?”
Then, I can listen and take notes, hearing that the real objective behind this campaign is not to sell subscriptions, but to make people aware of new training offerings. Only after that personal review do I report on the poor results.
Put It In Context
Don’t talk only about that one failing campaign. I also spend some time looking at other reports that put the numbers in context. That way, I can say, “Hey, you know, the traffic to our landing page hasn’t increased much over the past two weeks, but look at how many more times people have clicked on our new offerings! Maybe that’s information you can use to tweak the approach to something that’s working better?”
Now my colleague’s creative problem-solving drive kicks in, and I’ve helped create a desire for more of the kinds of insight and knowledge an analyst can provide.
Being a good analyst requires more than analytical skill.
As I say in every Marketing Professionals certification course I teach, the best analysts are mediators, delegators, evangelists and educators. Focus on what can be learned rather than raw numbers, and people will not only pay attention, they will actively seek your help.
Best of luck, Messenger. Let us know how it goes. Remember: They can’t shoot you, if they never draw their guns!
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