As an industry, marketing analytics is evolving.
This evolution has been enabled, and driven, by technological advances and access to connected data.
Want to target your ideal customer with advertising?
Select a set of location, demographic, career, and interest attributes, and connected data handles serving those ads only to individuals who meet your criteria.
Want to learn who your ideal customers are?
Adopt technology that collects data, and analyse it to discover commonalities.
The availability of connected data, and the user-friendly tools that enable marketers to access and understand it, has propelled the industry forward in a way that was previously impossible.
Thanks to data, modern marketing is personalised and targeted.
It’s more effective and less expensive.
But another result of data is that marketers can no longer just say that modern marketing is more effective and less expensive.
They have to prove it.
The first stage in the evolution of data-driven marketing was the collection and analysis of data to improve campaigns, increase traffic, and generate leads.
The second stage is using available data to prove marketing ROI.
Previously, marketing data could only extend as far as the point of transaction or lead conversion because software was delivered offline.
But now, with software as a service (SaaS) growing to a $46.3B (£33B) market in 2017, we can connect the data all the way through the entire customer lifecycle to revenue.
Marketers can no longer rely on traffic, leads, and engagement metrics.
Company executives and marketing agency clients want to know the exact impact their investment in marketing has on business revenue.
“The real problem has been that many marketers and communicators don’t have meaningful data skills, and most data scientists don’t understand marketing and communications.”
At Ruler Analytics, we’ve set out to solve this problem.
Ruler Analytics Is Evolving with the Marketing Industry
Ruler Analytics started as a side project, a way for me and Dan to scratch an itch.
Before Ruler, we were both marketers.
We were running online marketing campaigns, but we had no way of tracking the inbound phone calls that the campaigns were generating.
We had the same problem with forms.
Although we could track that someone had completed a form fill.
We couldn’t see who that person was.
This was a big issue.
Not all conversions are created equally, especially in industries where customer lifetime values vary significantly.
So we initially built the platform for our own benefit.
We wanted to understand how many calls our campaigns were generating, and to get insight into the quality of leads who were filling out our forms. Because we were building it for ourselves, we bootstrapped the costs for the first couple of years.
But eventually we realised there was a larger market for this data.
If it was useful for us as marketers, there was a good chance it would be useful to other marketers as well.
In 2015, we received venture capital to build and grow the platform further.
As a result, we transitioned from marketing to technology.
We joined the community of SaaS providers.
But once a marketer, always a marketer.
Though our focus has shifted from execution to solution, we’re still focused on marketers as our primary audience.
We’re still looking for solutions to the industry’s biggest problems.
As the product and market developed over time, we noticed that marketers were becoming more involved in different stages of the business.
For instance, rather than just focusing on messaging and driving new leads, marketers now want to know which leads turn into revenue.
This is much more commonplace than it was five years ago.
While this change may have been driven by marketers in some instances, I suspect it’s more the result of demands from clients and company leaders.
In a recent survey, nearly 70% of marketers noted that senior management teams and board members expect marketing to drive business growth.
To prove that marketing is driving business growth, marketers must be able to calculate marketing ROI.
Not leads generated, not traffic increases, not phone call volume, not social share counts: to thrive in today’s data-driven business environment, marketers must be able to report actual marketing-driven revenue to leaders, board members, clients, and stakeholders.
But marketing ROI has always been difficult to measure.
The Problem of Measuring Marketing ROI
Before digital marketing, marketers relied on print advertisements and commercials to build awareness and, hopefully, revenue.
After running these ads, they could measure increases in call volumes and foot traffic.
However, it was difficult to attach a specific monetary value to those traffic increases, and even proving that the increases were the result of marketing was based more on causality than any hard evidence.
Once marketing moved online, marketers could begin collecting and reporting traffic metrics.
They could finally say, “This [specific campaign] drove [specific number of visitors] to our website.”
Then came Google Analytics.
Now marketers could see the traffic along with conversions, but conversions were never meant to support long sale cycles or web-based software.
It was designed to serve a world where the furthest a user’s activity would go on the internet is to complete a transaction or become a lead.
It wasn’t until later that the entire experience, finding and using a product, would take place online.
Using platforms like Ruler Analytics, marketers could provide an exact count for the number of site visitors, phone calls, and leads generated by specific marketing campaigns.
But for long-sales cycles and recurring revenue businesses, there still wasn’t a way to accurately measure closed deals and revenue generated.
To calculate ROI, marketers must know exactly how much revenue a campaign, or the overall marketing program—generated.
Analytics technologies just haven’t provided that capability.
The Current Analytics Solution
In the image above, each one of these users would be represented as a goal completion in Google Analytics, even though some a vastly more valuable than the others.
Without knowing WHO the lead, and HOW they went on to use the product, it’s impossible to accurately calculate customer acquisition cost (CAC) or assign monthly recurring revenue (MRR) and lifetime value (LTV).
Each of these values are needed to calculate true marketing ROI.
Marketing and sales are disconnected, so marketers are unable to connect website traffic and campaigns to CRM leads and the revenue they generate.
As a platform provider, we feel like our mission is to be able to identify pain points, understand what our customers are trying to achieve, and solve for those with a software solution, ideally in a manner that seamlessly fits with current products, workflows, and processes.
The inability to calculate marketing ROI is an obvious pain point and need for marketers, so we set out to provide a solution.
We wanted to update our platform to provide marketers with the ability to close the loop between marketing and sales, to allow marketers to engage in closed-loop marketing by providing a means of measuring revenue generated across the full customer lifecycle.
Developing a Marketing ROI Software Solution
Ruler Analytics began as an analytics solution that allowed marketers to track phone calls and measure the quality of leads generated through different campaigns.
Those features have been retained, they still provide important and necessary marketing metrics, but we added some additional features to tie that data into the products marketers are already using, such as Google Analytics and CRMs.
Ruler Analytics now closes the loop between marketing-generated leads and actual revenue, allowing marketers to calculate and report on ROI and determine which campaigns/channels are the most effective.
Here’s how it works:
1. Potential customers visit your website via various campaigns and channels.
2. Some of them come back on multiple occasions, via different campaigns and channels, before converting. Each touch point has an effect on the eventual lead or conversion.
3. Ruler Analytics tracks each anonymous visitor to the website over each of those sessions, collecting data on traffic sources and keywords used.
4. Eventually, those visitors convert through forms, phone calls, or in-person visits. Ruler records those conversions, connecting the real user details back to the original marketing touch points.
5. The platform then feeds collected marketing data and closed-sale revenue data into Google Analytics, your CRM, and other products you’re already using.
6. Marketers can then access that data in Google Analytics or AdWords, viewing the direct revenue earned through various campaigns, and measuring and optimising campaigns accordingly.
The entire process is automatic, occurring behind the scenes without the need for marketing intervention. After setup, marketers simply pull their reports when needed for campaign optimisation or ROI reporting.
Solving Marketing ROI Metrics Pain Points with Ruler Analytics
In order for marketers to make reliable decisions about their campaigns, they need to base those decisions on bottom-line revenue data—not values for traffic, leads, or goal completions.
This is particularly true for SaaS platform marketers, because different traffic sources produce different amounts of revenue and different lifetime values.
Ruler provides the means to match marketing sources to individual customers over multiple touch points, and then pass this information to the tools already being used for reporting.
While elements of our new features cross over with features of other software solutions, no other available solution enables complete closed-loop marketing.
They don’t address the whole loop, and the available features aren’t core to the product.
Our new features are core to the platform and designed specifically to enable closed-loop marketing and reporting.
The result: no more guessing when it comes to planning and optimising marketing spend.
Marketers are able to make decisions based on real revenue, not leads, and report an accurate marketing ROI to senior leaders and clients.
As a bonus, the ability to make informed decisions using revenue metrics will, in turn, decrease customer acquisition costs while delivering increased ROI and return on advertising spend (ROAS).