At heart, analytics has one purpose for marketing – to help the marketing team be better at marketing. In turn, marketing’s raison d’etre is to help organisations deliver better business results through promotion, advertising, branding and sales. So where analytics can have the most impact is where it can contribute to marketing’s most common challenges.
Analytics is borne of interrogating data and offers the opportunity to explore, investigate and create insight to change the perceptions on the one hand and track and measure on the other. Helping at every stage of the marketing cycle from research & insight, planning through to execution, measuring performance and optimising future iterations. It can help them do more with less: increasing impact with more efficient spend. Attributing performance for a better understanding of ROI with different marketing activations and improving customer service through better insights.
Analytics is powerful. When well executed, a strong analytics has the power to take a marketing team from ‘the colouring in department’ to a respected and influential centre of business performance. But where should you start with analytics? The answer will differ for each business, but the best starting place is to start small and tackle a real business problem. Cracking a burning issue through analytics quickly buys marketing a seat at the decision making table. Good analytics starts with asking the right questions, not by sifting through a mountain of data to see what turns up. A good starting point is to develop a plan for analytics, and to do this, it can be helpful to take a systematic approach to looking at what you want to achieve. Below I’ve identified six key areas that you may want to develop an analytics plan around.
1. Insight – This is the powerhouse of any marketing plan. Even if it’s not run day to day by marketers it’s a key input into the marketing process. Today’s marketers have more access than ever to technology and data from social media sentiment, to on-site behaviour from web analytics, media spend or e-commerce data. The danger is that you could end up drowning in data unless you can reconcile all this information into useful insight to power better decision-making and, in turn, inform other marketing activity. Think about starting with asking questions about a key business problem that is top of mind for your business.
2. Audience & targeting – Analytics is a key component to identifying and then quantifying an audience universe before creating insight for personas or segments that allow marketers to slice them into the most useful groups for targeting. With more advanced analytics they can calculate those customers with the highest lifetime value, customer churn or those most likely to complete a desired action. This predictive capability allows marketers to start deliver against that problem of delivering more impact with less spend. Start with thinking about how you could gain better insight about key buyer personas, and how this can influence your customer journey, or be used in an account based marketing plan.
3. Defining the right activity – Often the hardest part of any marketing plan or strategy is knowing where to start! With analytics marketers are able to gather more definitive answers to questions around channel or omni-channel efficacy. At a glance they can define the channels delivering the best impact or whether they should increase spend on a certain channel to meet their objective. And ultimately, what the ideal marketing channel spend split is to deliver their targets. Ask yourself if you have enough insight across channels to determine their effectiveness.
4. Measurement & Attribution – All marketers must wrestle with the eternal problem of ROI. However it is difficult to know how to make the best decisions if they cannot measure and attribute results effectively across marketing efforts. Questions like, “which marketing channels lead to purchase or a desired call to action?” Or, “What type of customer journey is the most valuable?” can be answered through the insight generated by good analytics. How you do this will differ between B2B and B2C businesses, but when you are thinking about marketing activity, make sure a measurement and attribution plan is included in your early planning.
5. Creative & Content – Improving and optimising your content and creative can yield great results and the right-brain thinking of analytics can genuinely help the left-brain of creative. For example, it can inform them of which messaging works best, which creative treatment is the most successful for which segment or even the ideal length of video for delivering click-through. To be effective, you need to not only measure effectiveness, but also have a process for continually incorporating your learnings into your creative and content process. Think hard about how you can optimise your creative and publishing processes to capture data against each of the creative elements, such as having multiple pre-defined headline, body copy and image styles which can be tested.
6. Experience – All consumers demand a seamless, high quality customer experience and this is the minimum you need to provide to cut through in a crowded marketplace. For this experience to be optimal you need to be able to unite all points of the customer journey, on and offline, and personalise it to each customer, which can only be delivered with analytics. Getting this right is not easy, but can yield big rewards, think about how you will work with other business functions across the customer journey to build up a complete picture of the experience. Remember, in a world of increasing personalisation, it’s not good enough to have multiple business siloes delivering a good experience on average, each part of the journey needs to be knitted together for each and every customer.
Of course, while the customer is King, analytics has benefits for marketers that extend beyond the customer journey such as operations. Analytics can show you how internal processes are working and where the potential bottlenecks are. And with the age of AI upon us, analytics can help with automated decision-making and tactical activity, empowering and enabling the marketer to focus on strategic, high-value tasks. This blend of analytics, marketing and automation is what will make the best organisations future-ready.