Automation and AI have given us tools to reduce (often drastically) the time we spend on more tedious PPC tasks.
That means as agency partners, we need to shift toward acting more as consultants for our clients. We must use our expertise to provide strategy and guidance that leads to business growth rather than hands-on-keys busywork.
A key area where we can leverage our expertise by identifying how clients can use data effectively while ensuring compliance with evolving privacy and security regulations.
1. Confirm where your clients (and your agency) stand with marketing analytics maturity
Over the last decade, the marketing analytics space has grown exponentially. Where do your clients stand? Factors often include:
- Age of the company
- Leadership’s willingness to invest the right resources into the right tools
A one-size-fits-all approach won’t cut it. As a result, it’s important to figure out the scope of clients’ resources right out of the gate. Use these questions to guide you:
- Do they have a dedicated marketing operations team with whom you can communicate freely? Or are they still learning how to configure Salesforce objects?
- On average, how much time do they generally need to process data or analytics requests?
- Are they doing any media mix modeling, single or multi-touch attribution? Or are they still trying to figure out attribution altogether?
- Do they use Google Analytics 4 or another reliable web analytics platform?
Confirming your clients’ marketing analytics maturity phase is just the first step in the process. You should also know where your agency stands with its marketing analytics maturity. What scope of services are you capable of offering to your clients?
Suppose your agency is still in the “informative” or “real-time” phase (see chart). In that case, it’s unlikely you can successfully assist a client who aims to incorporate more predictive technology into their marketing practice. Yet this situation can become a great opportunity to seek out resources (including third-party) to do so.
If you’re encountering similar analytics-related challenges across many clients, consider investing in an in-house resource to help solve them. For instance:
- Train members of your data and analytics teams on the Salesforce reporting platform.
- Hire a marketing operations specialist to help clients with tagging and tracking.
- Create a task force to scope out the best predictive tools and methods to use agency-wide, given your own resource constraints.
- Build a roadmap to get your agency to a place where you can confidently say you’ve reached the “prescriptive phase.”
Ultimately, as agency partners, our goal is to ensure leadership has confidence that marketing activities are translating into business success. Positioning your agency as a strategic partner with an effective analytics scope can inspire confidence in your clients’ leadership teams.
Dig deeper: 3 steps for effective PPC reporting and analysis
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2. Future-proof by preparing for third-party cookie deprecation with server-to-server tracking
By now, you’ve heard ad nauseam that third-party cookies will soon be a thing of the past, with Google expected to phase them out completely by Q3 of 2024. If they aren’t already, your clients will be asking about the implications for their media strategies.
Today, nearly every major advertising platform offers an offline conversion tracking solution. By default, this conversion tracking method is cookie-less. As a result, your first step should be enabling this option for your clients across platforms.
In addition, take steps to audit the quality of the data passed into these systems. With routine audits, your agency team can continue optimizing toward ideal conversion rates.
The best practice for seamless tracking, however, is implementing server-to-server tracking. On a surface level, server-to-server tracking creates and stores a unique identifier on the client’s private server when a user clicks a tracking link or generates an ad impression. This ID replaces pixel-based (or client-side) tracking, which stores the customer’s data in their web browser.
It’s important to note that server-to-server tracking is not a way to get around privacy restrictions and compliance. Rather, it bypasses browser-based privacy restrictions and ad blockers.
If your agency isn’t already doing so, now is the time to create a company-wide initiative for everyone to become familiar with server-to-server tracking. Then, you can start helping your clients understand the importance of configuring their technology stacks to enable this method.
Implementation can take a lot of time, particularly when databases require reconfiguring to generate and store these unique IDs. While your agency may not oversee the technical execution, it’s essential to be a good consultant to your clients and set expectations for what it will take. It’s also helpful to have good recommendations for resources if you or your clients don’t have them available internally.
3. Don’t over-engineer your analytics strategy
Ad platforms have seemingly been rolling out a new AI or forecasting tool every other month. When you consider the countless other third-party analytics SaaS on the market, it can feel overwhelming to keep up.
Remember, just because a tool is new doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good – or even the right tool for your goals. As you consider new tools and workflows to incorporate into your analytics strategy, ask the following questions:
- Will it help me collect accurate and timely data better than my current solution does?
- Can it help me analyze trends deeper and better than my existing tech stack does?
- Will it provide more actionable insights than I currently receive?
- Will it help me comply with any regulatory requirements better than I already do?
- Can it do what I already do, but cheaper?
These elements are some of the most basic pillars of any marketing analytics strategy. If any new and flashy tools or strategies aren’t satisfying one of the above, they probably aren’t worth the resource allocation.
It’s also critical to consider where your agency has landed on the marketing analytics maturity path. If you’re operating in the “informative” phase, adopting more advanced media mix modeling or an incrementality testing tool might not be your top priority.
The path to becoming a great data steward
Between the rapid rollout of automation and AI tools and the deprecation of third-party cookies, many agencies’ roles continue to shift toward the consultant end of the spectrum.
For agency partners, becoming a great data steward starts with knowing how, why, and when to incorporate analytics into paid media planning – and ultimately guiding clients toward future-proofing their businesses.
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