The wonderful thing about the state of marketing in 2015 is that technology makes it possible to measure, test, and improve everything from your ad campaigns to your content to your product itself. Sophisticated analytics software can help you track reams of crucial data and respond in real-time.
It’s an exciting time to work in this field because marketers have never had so much tangible ability to affect their business’s bottom line.
But what if you don’t have the tools to collect all the information you want? What if you see the incredible power sophisticated data reporting can grant you, but your supervisors haven’t yet considered using sophisticated marketing software? How do you build a business case for a SaaS analytics tool like KISSmetrics?
If you’re responsible for tracking ROI and making sure your marketing has the right impact, it’s very likely you can benefit immensely from the ability to pull complex reports and react in real-time. However, since these superpowers are relatively new, you may have to do a lot of work in order to choose the solution that’s right for your company and then build a clear, easy-to-understand business case for it.
Even if it’s easy to get the cost approved, it’s still worth your time to do the legwork beforehand so that you choose the right software and know how to make the most of it. Here are some steps you can take to ensure you’ve got your bases covered and you’re able to succinctly, effectively choose and pitch an analytics solution:
1. Identify your business’s biggest challenge.
Before you begin, take the time to clearly define the primary challenge your business is facing. Do you need to acquire new users? Reduce churn? Figure out which segment of customers have the greatest lifetime value (LTV)? Increase the percentage of users who are paying?
It’s normal to have several problems you’d like to solve at any given moment, but chances are there’s a big one that — if effectively solved — could go a long way toward solving the others, too. This is a great time to ask questions of your colleagues. What do they see as the biggest challenge?
To get a clear picture of your funnel and to see some helpful benchmarks, check out Chapter Four of QuickSprout’s Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking.
2. Look at the existing data you’re collecting, and identify critical gaps.
You can have all the data in the world, but without taking a strategic approach to figure out what you hope to learn from it, you’ll never be able to use it to achieve anything great. Don’t fall into the trap of getting caught up producing endless reports for no good reason. Contextualize your business’s primary challenge, and think about how data can help you solve it.
What do you want to know right now that you can’t figure out with the information currently available to you? What decisions are being made based on hunches and assumptions (where software could help you measure and test different approaches)?
Do you know who your most valuable customers are? Where do they come from? What marketing efforts are being aimed at retaining them, and which of those efforts are the most effective?
Make a wish list of all the things you’d like to have hard data on, but don’ This point will be critical in helping you build a strong business case.
3. Do your research.
Once you have a clear handle on what it is you’re attempting to solve and what information you need to obtain in order to do so, it’s time to educate yourself on the capabilities and limitations of the analytics tools available to you. Even if you’ve worked with them before, it’s worth refreshing your memory on their various features and reports.
It’ll be especially valuable at this point to dig around for case studies and articles about other companies that have conquered problems similar to the ones you’re facing. If you’re a SaaS company interested in reducing churn, for example, a quick Google search produces a number of incredibly helpful case studies:
- How One SaaS Startup Reduced Churn 71% Using “Red Flag” Metrics (KISSmetrics)
- 9 Case Studies That’ll Help You Reduce SaaS Churn (ConversionXL)
- 3 Things We Did to Reduce Churn by 68% (Baremetrics)
This kind of reading is well worth your time. You’ll find it a lot easier to put together a plan that will help you identify the reports you’re hoping to produce once you have access to more data. And this level of strategic forethought is essential to the success of your pitch.
4. Anticipate constraints and objections.
Even if you think you have a rock-solid pitch put together, prepare to address concerns and objections. Ask yourself the following questions:
If the responsibility for the final decision were in your hands, what would you have to consider?
- Are there unique privacy concerns around your company’s data?
- Are there legal requirements in your industry or region that impact the type of information you can collect, and how you go about doing so?
- What budget are you realistically working with?
- What roadblocks might you face in implementing a new analytics tool?
- How will the cost of this software be affected by potential changes in your product or your user base?
- If you double your users, what will the cost be then?
- When you add a new set of features to your product, how easy will it be to integrate this tool?
- What ongoing development resources will you need to draw on, if any?
Consider each of these points, and gather as much information as possible so that you’re able to address them quickly and accurately during your pitch. Don’t waste time having to go out and do more research after you’ve put your business case together. It’s much better to be prepared in advance.
5. Speak with a sales associate.
Now is a great time to get in touch with someone in sales and discuss your needs. Explain the primary challenge your business is facing. Let them know what data you’d like to be able to collect. Ask how they would suggest you address the roadblocks you’ve identified.
Sales professionals are usually intimately familiar with the product they’re responsible for and are used to addressing these objections, so they’ll likely have great data and case studies they can share with you. They can also help you build a thorough, realistic implementation plan.
Set up an appointment or call. Have a list of questions ready. Be prepared to give them extensive context on how your business operates and what you hope to achieve by launching a new analytics tool. Take advantage of their significant product knowledge, and work with them to put your pitch together.
If you’re comparing multiple tools, this is also a good way to get an idea of what kind of support and guidance you can expect from each company you’re considering working with. The more helpful and knowledgeable their sales staff, the more likely they are to be supportive and available once you’re a paying customer.
6. Build your presentation.
Bring it all together now! You’ve done your research. You’ve identified the business challenges you want to address with a sophisticated analytics tool. You’ve educated yourself on your options. You’ve prepared information to help address objections and concerns. It’s time to put your pitch together.
Use real numbers where possible, and construct a clear picture of your current system’s shortcomings. Then point out the opportunities a new analytics tool can provide.
Try putting together what-if scenarios, such as these:
What if we found that Feature A was confusing our users and causing them to lose interest?
- What if we discovered that our users liked our old website layout better?
- What if we realized that one of our digital ad campaigns targeting a specific segment was producing far-and-away the most profitable customers in the long run?
Play these out, and use extrapolated data to illustrate your point. You’re trying to demonstrate the connection between valuable, hard-to-acquire data and the real business decisions that can result from this information. Your goal is to show that having access to improved reporting and more comprehensive information can help you and your leadership team make better decisions about your marketing activities and your product.
7. Make your pitch.
Set up a meeting and allow for as much time as possible. Keep the focus on the potential business impact of the software you’re pitching. After all of the research you’ve done, you should feel prepared for questions about budget, implementation, data security, development hours needed, and so on.
Be clear about the commitment required, and offer to do additional research if objections or questions you hadn’t prepared for come up.
If you get a “no,” suggest a three- or six-month trial period as a compromise. While you want to leave sufficient time to implement and properly test the impact of a new analytics tool, a smaller commitment may be more palatable if your leadership team is concerned about the investment or skeptical about how much tangible impact better data reporting can have.
8. If your pitch is successful, get really good at using the software.
Great, your pitch was approved! But the work doesn’t stop there. Get your hands on as much training as you possibly can, and be sure you’re really well-versed in the capabilities of your new analytics tool. Ask for the opportunity to lead the implementation, if possible, and consider who else in your organization may benefit from receiving training on the new software.
You’ll probably receive a lot of guidance from the software company you’ve elected to go with, but also check out other resources to hone your skill set. Here are a few you can start with:
- The GrowthHackers community
- The inbound.org community
- Lynda.com training videos
- This list of growth hacking resources
The sharper your data analysis and strategic marketing skills get, the more you’ll be able to benefit from working with an advanced analytics tool.
Conclusion: It’s worth putting in the time and effort.
Sometimes it’s difficult to convey the value of software tools, especially highly customizable analytics platforms that can be used any one of a thousand ways. However, by clearly defining your goals, building a wish list of data points you’d like to get your hands on, anticipating objections, and putting together a smart, data-supported presentation, you stand a good chance of getting the green light.
If your pitch is successful, you’ll open up a great opportunity to make huge, measurable gains in the effectiveness of your marketing activities and the success of your business.
About the Author: Kristin Eberth is a marketing pro based in Vancouver, BC, where she leads B2B marketing at PressReader. She writes about marketing strategy on her blog at kristineberth.com. Subscribe to her newsletter, or follow her on Twitter @kristineberth.