Mountains of Data

Prior to coming to the SJ Team, I worked in hotels, in many positions, but my last positions focused on reporting and analyzing data.  In this case it was room rates, commissions, even looking at weather patterns as a cause and effect.  The point I am making is data is all around, in every business, and more and more we are hearing the term “data-driven results” – it is time to embrace the data and use it to propel the best conclusions.

Here in marketing with the shift to digital advertising, we have the opportunity to get trackable results, in real time, where that was not an option in print, tv, or radio.  Of course, numbers on a page, are well, just numbers on a page, do you know how to tell a story?  And that my friends, is what we are here to help with at SJ Marketing.

Here are three basics to get on the data train (toot, toot):

  • Have a clear objective. This could be the same reasons why you reached out for our assistance.  Brand awareness, marketing for an event, community outreach – there is data out there in the form of demographics, impressions, and conversions to name a few.  In the broad sense, there is a lot of data out there to get your measurement; however, without a goal, it is difficult to use the numbers to tell the story.
  • Pictures are worth a thousand words, so I have one word to describe a thousand words – infographics. No one wants to see tables of a bunch of numbers, it makes our heads hurt, and takes too much time to analyze. What do you think when I say USA Today?  Most likely, you are thinking USA Today Snapshots (one of those random surveys that is always in the bottom corner).  One graphic that is quick, to the point, and shows how results correlate amongst each other.  The number one reason why most businesses do not embrace data is because lack of communication; therefore, here at SJ we present the data with dialogue, not show numbers.
  • Correlation versus causation. This is a big one, and definitely a point of contention.  The more I dive into digital marketing, and even in the data world in general, the more I find that data can find correlations to optimize your brand, but to pinpoint A caused B is a whole different story. For example, we can gain customer insights, and put figures behind it. Want to know which keywords gain the most traction for you in search, or find correlations in time of day/week and engagement on social media that can produce a better ad quality and value – we can do this and correlate with ad performance based on historical results.


Bottom line, the data is available to improve the decision making process.  It is available to learn more about your customer base, discover trends, and improve your targeting to optimize your brand.  Just think if your strategy was Lake Tahoe, and data was the mountains, and you were taking a panoramic of your business – wouldn’t you need both to enhance the picture?

– Julie Sabor, Account Coordinator

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Mistakes you are (Likely) Making with Digital Marketing

With a few billion impressions of data under my belt and thousands of reports covering millions of dollars of ad spends I am at somewhat qualified to reflect on trends and mistakes that cross industry and advertiser size. Are you guilty of these marketing sins?

Lack of Brand/Non-Brand Balance on Paid Search

Hypothetical Client: How come Agency X is delivering a 20:1 ROI and you’re only delivering a 5:1?

SJ: Well our goal is to generate new business for you, not maximize ROI. If we were only bidding on ads for people searching for you, the ROI would be higher but it wouldn’t help your business grow.

*Side note: there are times when it IS appropriate to have a brand-based keyword campaign; for instance, your competitors or a third party booking engine are trying to steal your business and you have to defend yourself from that loss.

Too Much ROI Focus

ROI is important, but not the only indicator of digital marketing success. More broadly, now that we can track return on ad spend results with some accuracy (see #X) we’ve created a monster I call returnoninvestiosaurus. Symptoms this monster lives in your office include: there’s not budget to promote events or non revenue-generating lines of business, you look at line 28’s revenue rather than the bottom line, you run an “awareness” campaign then ask how much revenue it brought in.

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No Defined Goals – i.e. Wanting Everything

If you have more than one goal, you should ideally have more than one campaign to meet these goals.

If you want a campaign that has both a massive reach and a high click rate, but only have $1,000 to spend, you’ll likely end up in a cost-per-click display campaign because you are only paying when someone clicks on your ad. On the other hand, the higher the click rate goes, the more often you have to pay, the fewer people you ultimately reach. Your two goals are in a relationship where one will win and the other loses. We’d advise you instead to make two separate plays for your click and reach goals.

YOY Obsessions in a DTD World

You ran paid search in 2007 and had a 10% click rate? NICE. You were ahead of the game though. Everyone else caught up. Your Facebook post had a 30% organic reach two years ago? Great, but that’s an unrealistic expectation for a new campaign. Results that were good last year may be irrelevant now, so take your YOY stats with a grain of salt.

Missing Trends Because They Aren’t Proven

There’s logic behind sticking with ads and ideas that are demonstrably successful. You should use successful campaigns to inform your next budget, but if you focus too much on what you know works well, you miss out on the arbitrage that will put you ahead of your competitors. Instagram is a no-brainer now, but were you on there 4 years ago? Are you afraid of Snapchat because you don’t know how to track its value? How about Facebook Live? The case for value may be ephemeral, but the value is there to be taken on new media even if it doesn’t have a direct ROI.

Not Sure What Your “Conversion” is Tracking

Your website has likely changed since you first set up your analytics tracking. Has it been kept up to date? Are you evaluating purchases/leads/conversions/etc. appropriately? Don’t take your reporting at face value if you don’t know what it’s saying.

If you think you might be guilty of these mistakes, give us a call at SJ Marketing.

– Jesse Plate, Manager of Web Services

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