Marketers want to know things. They want to know about their customers, campaigns, channels, and the results of their decisions. Most of all they want to know what is working and what needs to be adjusted.
Enter marketing analytics: quantitative data that is collected, analyzed, and converted into actionable information that resolves key marketing business decisions.
“First, you use the analytics to prove the value of what you’re doing or to prove the impact of what you’re doing. Second, you gain insight so that you can improve what you do.”
Investment in marketing analytics has been on the uptick for sometime thanks to technological advances like search engine optimization and programmatic ad systems, which are highly dependent on a steady stream of data.
One of the goals of that investment is to create a holistic picture of the customer’s journey by amalgamating information collected at every stage.
Marketing, operations, and sales are all vast sources of data. Any one of them could reveal valuable insights, but taken together they can be an absolute disrupter.
A Fact Today is Worth Two Tomorrow
One caveat though, is that actionable knowledge is time sensitive. Too many organizations forget that fact and overbuild their analytics machine in a way that can’t keep pace with the real world.
A fact learned after it’s useful may help theorists and academics, but companies and brands seeking a competitive advantage need to be more agile than that. They need to be able to collect and analyze their data fast enough to make productive use of it.
That can be a challenge when all our new-fangled, digitally connected, and dashboard equipped tools are producing so much data. Old ways of doing things just can’t keep up.
But, there’s hope yet. Deep learning and other cutting-edge artificial intelligence technologies look like a path forward.
Highly tuned algorithms and cloud servers can process data faster and more efficiently than an army human staticians.
However, not only is the deluge of data an issue, but a surfeit of analytic tools can be daunting as well. According to consultants from McKinsey: “Companies have so many analytical options at their disposal that they often become paralyzed, defaulting to just one tool.”
Bigger than Google
Often that one tool is Google Analytics because it’s so ubiquitous and remarkably full featured.
But, just looking at web traffic and keywords will never substitute for a truly ‘integrated marketing-analytics approach’ that accepts data from all your channels and looks at them through various lenses.
The end game is a model that lets you know how your marketing is performing (and how it compares to the competition), which channels are providing the greatest ROI (which in turn helps you better allocate resources), and finally where you need improvement.
Not only does it feed into typical applications like maximizing sales and lead generation, it gives the kind of insights into customer preferences and industry trends that are crucial for longer term strategic decision-making.