It’s one of the hardest skills you’ll need your team to deliver, but it’s also the most valuable, in my humble opinion.
How good is your team at being able to quickly look through client program performance data and derive the insights they need to improve performance? But wait, we’re not done yet!
How good are they at coming up with an action plan that includes a handful of experiments or improvement ideas based on those analytical insights to quickly increase your client’s marketing program performance metrics?
It is this combination of insights and action planning that separates the great data-driven marketers from the simply good marketing tacticians.
Here’s how to train your team to know where to look, how frequently to look, what to look for and how to respond to what the data is telling them.
Do You Know? Does Anyone Know How To Do This?
Let’s be 100% honest and transparent. Do you know how to look at a client’s program data, weed through the analysis, uncover key insights, and then create the action plan to either accelerate or reverse the trends?
Does anyone else in the company know how to do this? Be honest. If you’re not sure, start asking around and see if they know how to answer key questions related to performance. Have you ever witnessed anyone having conversations like this with your clients?
Like everything else in life, mastering something takes practice. It’s more than likely that YOU are going to have to be the best at this in your shop and then start training everyone else to do what you do.
If you do know how to do this, then we’ll cover how to get your expertise and knowledge into the hands of your people.
If you don’t know how to do it, we’ll talk about a few ways you can start collecting this skill set that is invaluable in today’s revenue heavy marketing and sales programs.
Experience Is The Only Training Available
I don’t think this is a skill you can pick up at training, by watching videos or by reading blog articles. In my experience this skill is one you have to earn by doing.
You have to get your hands dirty managing the account day in and day out, in HubSpot, working with the client, reviewing performance data, talking about the performance, planning tests, executing tests, seeing what works and what doesn’t work and collecting experiences.
After 10 years of doing this, you get quick, effective and efficient at finding the key data points, understanding what’s driving them, knowing what you need to do differently and coming up with the plan to install those upgrades.
Then you continue to monitor performance and your upgrades either work or they don’t and then it becomes rinse and repeat. You’re going to have failures and not everything you think is going to work will work as expected. The key is learning from those failure and responding.
The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. In the book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell says it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. I agree completely when it comes to this specific set of skills.
Just to be clear, 10,000 hours is about 5 ½ years if you work 1,800 hours a year. But that assumes you’re doing JUST THIS for that entire time, which of course you're not. Now you’re looking at more like 10 years to get really good at this. You better get started.
Modeling Goes Along Way
I think most of the agency owners reading this are good or on their way to being good at this, which means the next step is about getting the rest of your team to be equally good or even better at this than you.
One of the best and most efficient ways is through modeling.
By modeling I mean showing people exactly how to do this by doing it. Whatever process you use for sifting through the data—you show your team exactly what you do. Whatever system you use to decide what areas need the most attention—you show your team exactly what you do. Whatever methodology you use to prioritize all the possible action items—you show your team what you do.
Include them in all the prep work and behind the scenes analysis. Include them in the conversations with clients. Let them hear the tone in your voice when you walk clients through the analysis. Let them here the questions the clients as you and your responses.
Spend 30 minute with them before the calls to show them how you prepared, then spend 30 minutes after the call answering questions and debriefing on the outcomes of the session.
Plan on doing modeling and roleplay like this for a good 90 days before you might want to start sharing the call with clients.
Then shift to a joint call, where both you and your team members talk about insights with clients, then shift to a call where your team handles 90% of the session and you sit back and observe, commenting only as needed.
Over time, if your team can perform, you should be able to trust that they can handle most of the work associated with identifying and recommending around insights.
Have Them Practice On The Agency
Want to see what your team can really do in a low risk situation? Turn them loose on your agency. I’ve been saying this for years but it’s never been more true. You need to practice this type of analysis, insights and action planning on your own agency.
Give one person the chance to review the performance of your agency, have them come up with a handful of insights and the action plans associated with improving those metrics.
Consider putting a team on the same task. Give them bigger goals since they have more people working on it, but make the objectives similar. Look at our metrics, come up with insights from the numbers and present a plan on how to improve your own agency’s marketing, sales or service performance.
Have them present to the team. Make them walk the entire team through their process. How did they review the data? What were they looking for? What areas did they look at? Why?
What did they see that looked interesting? How did they define underperformance, overperformance?
After they found the insights, how did they come up with the action plan? Why did they select those tactics? How much of their recommendations were experiments to better define the insights and how much was programmatic upgrades to improve results? Why did they use experiments vs. upgrades?
Finally, what were the results? What lift did they produce? What did their experiments help them learn? How did they learn from experiments that didn’t produce positive results?
You should see by the complexity of the questions that this isn’t something you can assign and see results on in a week. This is going to take months of a person’s time. Which is why so few people know how to do this.
The sooner you make a commitment to this approach, the sooner your team will start getting better at this critical skill set.
Make Sure They Know This Is The Expectation
This type of motion is new for many marketers. For most marketers, they’ve grown up with the understanding that their job is to create stuff like emails, ebooks, websites and tradeshow exhibits. They don’t all know that their mission is to generate leads, sales ops and new customers.
Account managers are even worse. If you’ve hired agency account people, they’ve never been asked to do anything other than take care of clients. Make sure their invoices are right, take them to lunch, cross sell additional services and check in with them from time to time. An important aspect of agency business yes, but no longer what drives value.
Make sure your team understands your expectations and the expectations of your clients. They’re hiring you to get results. Your people have to be practicing that every day.
If You Think They’re Doing It, Spot Test Them
Finally, if you’re not involved in every client engagement, then you’ll want to see for yourself how your team is performing.
There are a couple of easy ways to check in on this challenging part of agency delivery.
You can drop in on client sessions where program performance is the topic. You can ask them key questions about client program performance. You can ask them to present to the full agency team or you can ask your clients directly.
Generally, I use a combination of all four tactics and interestingly enough, I get a variety of feedback from each approach. Together that provides me with the insight I need to know we’re performing at the level I expect and that our clients expect.
Make sure you set a realistic timeline around getting your team to be experts at this part of the engagement. It’s the most challenging, is going to take the most time and require the most nurturing, training and follow up.
It could take months to get this down, especially if you’re not doing it today. If you are doing it today, than it might take months to smooth out the rough edges on delivery and make sure it’s a part of every engagement. Regardless, it should be at the top of your priority list as the leader and it should remain a focus going into 2019, whether your adding it, upgrading it or simply making sure it happens religiously in every client engagement.
Start Today Tip – Make sure your entire team understands your expectations. If this is the kind of agency you’re building—everyone should be on the same page. Then start building in the training and role play rhythms to ensure every gets exposed to this type of work, everyone gets a chance to practice and everyone is leaning into this on a regular basis. Everyone, regardless of role, should have this ability. Content people can evaluate content performance, web people can evaluate web performance, and of course marketing people can evaluate, gain insight and create recommendations based on overall program performance. Let them loose on your agency and stay connected to their activities and progress so you can provide oversight.
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