Building Marketing Analytics That Matter

Analytics is one of the biggest trends in marketing today.  The main reason for it (aside from additional visibility and understanding about marketing performance) is that executive management is looking for ways to justify marketing spends in ways that show top-line growth or at least the ability to contribute to it significantly.  That means as marketers we have to invest in tools and come up with measurement models that show that what we are doing matters beyond generic improvement of brand awareness.  I think we all know that all of this is leading to how our marketing budgets will be shaped now and into the future so it's important to get it right.

Marketo uses the following definition of marketing analytics - "marketing analytics is the practice of managing and studying metrics data in order to determine the ROI of marketing efforts, as well as the act of identifying opportunities for improvement."  Building off that definition, here are some key parts of getting your marketing analytics strategy right:

  • Understand the goals of the business - knowing what your business is trying to achieve is important.  Everyone wants growth, but what type of growth does your company want?  Is it in a specific section of the business or are there new targets or opportunities where you have to extend the brand?  What if improved profitability is the goal?  Marketing can still help with that by identifying more profitable segments and tailoring efforts towards them.  The more you understand what the organization is trying to achieve the better off your marketing efforts will be.
  • Create marketing goals and KPIs that correlate to business objectives - now that you know what the business wants you have to create goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) that tie into them.  Some of the goals can be qualitative and early on some will have to be, but the more quantitative goals you can make the more specific you can be and the leadership team will understand the commitment you're making.  Just saying you are going to increase the number of leads isn't enough anymore.  Specify a number and put it down so everyone knows the bogey they have to hit. 
  • Create analytics that actually matter - when analytics first became a thing, we all locked into web traffic numbers, like and follows on social media, and views of videos.  All are great thing to see increase over time.  But the days of those things actually mattering to how your business is doing are gone.  If you want more money for these and other marketing items you have to begin to show how everything marketing is doing is moving customers through the pipeline and ultimately to sales.  Everything else is window dressing.
  • Buy tools and build systems that support measurement - the sophistication required for today's marketer to effectively measure and analyze performance require something more than a spreadsheet and a couple of graphs.  If you really want to have marketing analytics that are consistent and accurate over time invest in the tools and systems required to do it.  By creating this infrastructure you can tap into data from IT and accounting that will give your data the heartiness it needs to survive the boardroom. 
  • Build your team with analytics in mind - an analytics-centric team may look different than your current team of what you have hired to historically.  Look for people that want results from their marketing efforts and not just things that look pretty.  This is such an important part of marketing's long-term value that everyone on the team needs to grab an oar and paddle in the same direction.   That doesn't mean go hire a bunch of quant jocks - find the blend between left and right brained folks and you will see your marketing efforts progress in a new and exciting way.

Marketing analytics have shifted the landscape of what marketers do and will do moving forward.  If you haven't embraced the trends you need to step up or you will get left behind.