Since the dawn of the industry, marketing has been a creative playground for artsy types. After all, who doesn’t love a clever tagline, an eye-popping design, a catchy jingle, or a beautifully told story? And while good creative is still essential, now marketing analytics is every bit as important.
What Is Marketing Analytics, Anyway?
Sure, we all (sort of) know marketing analytics when we see them, but now that we’re bombarded with all kinds of data from all sides, it’s a good idea to nail down what we’re talking about.
Marketing analytics is the practice of examining the results of your marketing activities for the purpose of assessing performance. Pay attention to that last word. Your goal is to assess performance, not activity. The number of blog posts you publish each month is important information, but it’s not part of the marketing analytics package.
When you look at marketing data, your goal is to answer the question “What is our marketing doing for our company in the big picture?” That means you’re looking at data such as:
• Brand awareness
• Lead generation
• Audience growth
• Customer acquisition
Difference Between Web Analytics and Marketing Analytics
Because so much of marketing involves your website and other online assets, it can be easy to confuse web analytics and marketing analytics. While there is some overlap, the two are actually separate practices.
Web analytics measures the performance of your website. In other words, it measures the things your webmaster cares about: page load times, page views per visit, time on site/on page, visitor paths, bounce rates, etc.
Marketing analytics measures the results of your marketing efforts. Since your website is a vital hub for your online marketing, your website performance will be important, but so will off-site activities such as email, social media, mobile apps, and even offline initiatives such as conferences. Marketing analytics looks at all these areas to show you how your marketing efforts are paying off.
5 Reasons Why Marketing Analytics Rules the Roost
Now that we’ve established what marketing analytics is (and is not), let’s look at the reasons why it’s so important.
For years, marketers gauged their success by the number of advertising awards on their shelves. If they could create marketing that was creative, catchy, and beautiful enough to impress a panel of judges, they knew they were doing a great job.
As competition increased and the task of getting through to consumers became more complicated, marketers knew that awards weren’t enough. They had to focus on what works. And what’s the key to finding out what works? Marketing analytics.
Today a robust marketing analytics practice is a vital part of any marketing team’s daily routine, and here are five reasons why.
Reason #1: Focusing on People
If you look at some of the most commonly measured marketing analytics, you’ll notice they all have one thing in common: people.
Marketing analytics is concerned with how people — actual consumers, not award-panel judges — are responding to your brand. Thanks to modern marketing platforms, you can identify how leads first came to engage with your brand (Facebook? Google search? Link from another website?) and track them all the way through the buyer’s journey. Along the way, you can see exactly which approaches (email, webinars, etc.) were most effective in advancing them to the next stage.
It may seem paradoxical that the facts and figures of marketing analytics can help you stay focused on the people you’re trying to reach, but it’s true. Any time you’re tempted to hop onto the latest trend or pursue “creative for creative’s sake,” analytics will be there to help you stay focused on the human beings on the other side of the screen.
Reason #2: Making the Most of Your Marketing Budget
Today’s marketers deal with a host of problems, but having too much money is rarely one of them. Marketing budgets are challenging to come by, and you need to make every dollar count.
Without marketing analytics, there’s no way for you to tell which marketing activities are generating ROI and which ones are simply a drain on your resources. By reviewing your results on a regular basis, you can easily tell which efforts are paying off. Than you can make the most of your marketing budget by re-allocating dollars towards your top-performing efforts and away from those that aren’t delivering.
Reason #3: Closing the Marketing-Sales Loop
The days of marketing and sales existing as silos are over. If your organization is going to succeed, both teams need to work together, and analytics makes that possible.
If your analytics are connected with your CRM platform, you can close the marketing-sales loop by tracking which leads advance to sales conversations, then connecting with your sales team to find out which ones become customers. You can then look at which channels are most critical for nurturing the leads who become customers at each stage of the buyer’s journey. You may discover, for example, that your blog doesn’t necessarily drive sales directly, but does serve as a key entry point for leads who eventually become customers.
Reason #4: Focusing on the Big Picture
Marketing teams are busy — all day, every day. It’s easy for your team to get bogged down in the day-to-day aspects of their work and lose sight of the big picture.
When marketing analytics is part of your regular routine, you can see the results of your activities and determine whether your team is spending their time and effort on the right things for producing results. By looking at your marketing data frequently, you can make small adjustments as they’re needed, which is far easier than making big changes further down the road.
Reason #5: Enabling Experimentation
Without analytics, trying new approaches can be a scary prospect. You’re proposing an allocation of time and resources without a means of finding out whether it works.
Marketing analytics allows you to design controlled experiments and track your results. For example, if you want to explore a new social network, you can set up a six-month trial and review your marketing data at the end of the trial period. Those results will give you a clear picture of whether the new network represents a good opportunity for generating results.
Welcome to the Information Age of Marketing
Marketing has entered the information age, and that’s good news for marketing teams everywhere. Instead of guessing what will work and hoping for the best, you can actually see the results of your efforts and make strategic decisions based on real marketing data.
Marketing expert Dan Zarrella once said, “Marketing without data is like driving with your eyes closed.” By reviewing your marketing analytics on a regular basis, you have the foundation you need to see where you’re going and make the strategic decisions to get you on the road to success.