August 29, 2011 ↘︎

Is your kitchen humming along?

When I present at conferences I like to begin with two huge and startling numbers…numbers that stun the audience into engagement.  Typically I use the number of slides in the presentation, which is generally over 200 (but presented in less than 30 minutes) and the second one is a statistic on something.

One statistic I’m fond of is “70%”.

70% of companies surveyed said the marketing executive is making the call on promotional content.

Running on gut feel.  Figuring out what’s best.  Typically a HIPPO approach.  Highest Paid Persons Opinion.

Too frequently marketing initiatives are not tied to success metrics or even measured at all. Holding people accountable would have interfered with working on the next big project or campaign. Between the abundance of “low-hanging fruit” and the sheer volume of work to be done, mistakes could be masked or conveniently overlooked.

Now with the economic downturn, companies are being forced to review their marketing spend and asking the CMO’s to do more with less.  They want to understand which campaigns, marketing channels, and online content are the most effective so they can get the most “bang” for their marketing dollars. In addition, more and more advertisers are shifting budget away from traditional channels to more measurable digital channels such as paid search, email, social media, etc. In a down economy, data is proving to be a marketer’s new friend.

Why is it difficult to be data-driven?

In many instances, companies implement the tools and assume they’re done.  They’ll assume they’ll get used and instant insights will be seen jumping out of the reports.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen that way.  It requires two other special ingredients.  People and processes.  Just implementing the technology and tools doesn’t get results.

I like to think of it as a kitchen.

Web analytics / Kitchen analogy

You can have your cooker (the tools) but without a good chef, recipes, ingredients etc, you won’t get a good result.

And in a restaurant kitchen there’s a lot going on.  Just like web analytics.


Let’s start here.  You need good people.  You need the Head Chef who’s thinking about the type of menu’s being offered; thinking about the type of food, what goes into it etc.  They’re your executive sponsors.  They help define the overall measurement direction, what KPIs are needed to be reported etc.

Then you have the cooks.  These people do the implementation tagging in line with the business objectives (or recipe).

And finally, the waiters.  These people take the food out to the guests – they’re your analysts, preparing and delivering insights.


Just like in a kitchen, there are processes involved.  From preparing the menu (planning the strategy), to cooking the food (implementation), checking on it while it’s cooking (validation), to preparing the plate (presentation of insights).


And finally there are the tools.  From the stoves (the platform) to the pots and pans (other tools such as Excel, Tableau etc); these help to deliver the overall results.  But there are plenty of other tools and utensils in the kitchen that are of equal importance.  For example, a web measurement strategy is a valuable document in ensuring a company’s online initiatives are aligned with its overall objectives and appropriate KPIs are predefined for measuring performance.

Data-driven marketing

All of these combine together to form a well-run kitchen.  All combine together to form a data-driven organisation that can reap the rewards from their measurement initiative, and turn “I think” into “I know”.

The content and advice contained in this post may be out of date. Last updated on August 29, 2011.
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