The marketing analytics must-haves: Don’t get left behind

By Lisa Loftis, SAS Best Practices

“In God we trust. All others bring data.” – W. Edwards Deming

Daniel Newman, principal analyst at Futurum Research, predicted to Forbes that relevance, context and effective delivery would be critical to marketing success this year. These predictions have proven to be prescient as marketers have focused on developing an omnichannel customer experience (CX), riding the mobile wave and improving big data and analytics capabilities. Looking into the future you can expect to see more of the same. The new digital marketing megatrends from include:

  • Smartphone adoption will continue to soar yielding increasingly personalized customer knowledge.
  • Artificial intelligence will aid organizations in engaging and servicing customers to deliver personalized responses at scale.
  • Lifecycle marketing optimization will prevail facilitating data-driven enhancements of communications across all channels and devices in the customer experience.
  • Customer data platforms and predictive analytics adoption will continue with 100 percent of marketers recently surveyed by DataXu saying that data and analytics will continue to play a critical role in marketing activity.

Marketing analytics: The value is clear

As the current megatrend continues to illustrate, analytics and data are the cornerstones that support all of these trends and predictions. They are the mechanism by which marketers can expedite delivery, improve relevance and illuminate context.

A study by Aberdeen Group found that companies using analytics for customer engagement have significantly better cross-sell and up-sell revenue, better return on marketing investment, and higher annual company profit than those that do not.

Forbes Insights found that three in 10 marketing executives think analytics is delivering a significant shift in customer experience capabilities today; with 42 percent anticipating this shift in the next few years as analytics efforts mature. Forbes also found a wide-ranging set of benefits associated with a data-driven CX; benefits that transcend cross-sell, up-sell and marketing ROI including:

  • Faster decision making – 62 percent
  • Better insight into customers with a common view – 51 percent
  • More confidence in decisions by managers and employees – 49 percent
  • Greater engagement with customers – 49 percent
  • Greater collaboration between departments – 36 percent
  • Improved reaction time to market changes – 32 percent

Success begets success

These benefits are noteworthy because they highlight a very real cultural effect from the use of analytics; that is, success begets success. Customer analytics actually works to break down the very organization silos that impede a seamless and positive end-to-end experience. Better decisions, delivered faster and with more confidence is the analytical nirvana.  

The explosion of data, and the technologies designed to take advantage of it, have resulted in an increasingly sophisticated, continuously evolving set of analytical capabilities. Here are some of the developing capabilities that marketers are focusing on today and into the future:

Location- and sensor-based services

Using GPS and other data to help to pinpoint where a person or object is at a given point in time, has a wide range of applications for marketers. The data can be used to entice customers into stores, entertainment venues and businesses by offering mobile coupons when a customer is in proximity of a physical location, or as search results enhanced with relevant information such as current inventory or wait times. The data can be used to enhance customer experiences while in a physical location, via in-store navigation aids or dynamic web content based on beacon information.

Real-time offer optimization

Using sophisticated optimization models that often incorporate machine learning techniques, these applications select the best offer or communication across a range of possibilities. Offer priority can be assigned based on factors such as customer lifetime value, offer value and campaign constraints (e.g., channel applicability, campaign budget and objectives). Results are typically delivered in real time across a variety of digital and traditional channels as customers are interacting with those channels. 

Sentiment analysis

Also known as opinion mining, sentiment analysis refers to the use of natural language processing, text analysis and cognitive computing to identify and extract subjective information from varied sources including social media, complaint applications, audio tapes and voice-of-the-customer feedback mechanisms. More sophisticated applications go beyond designations like positive, negative or neutral to assign nuanced mood designations. These designations can be correlated with historical behavior to predict future impacts based on the prevailing sentiment. Marketers use the results to gain early understanding of performance (product launches, PR campaigns, reaction to current events, etc.) and tweak responses accordingly.

Customer journey analytics

A new name for an old concept, journey analytics takes advantage of increasing amounts of customer information and more sophisticated technologies to create a modern customer profile. This profile provides a dynamic view of customers and all their interactions across the customer life cycle. It goes beyond traditional product ownership and usage information to incorporate digital information such as social media, digital channel interactions, sentiment analysis, voice-of-the-customer interactions, etc. The profile and associated analysis highlights past behaviors and can predict preferences and future behaviors at an individual level with an astonishing degree of accuracy.

With capabilities like these at their disposal, it is easy to see why analytics are rapidly becoming must-haves for marketers.

Lisa Loftis

Lisa Loftis is a thought leader on the SAS Best Practices team, where she focuses on customer intelligence, customer experience management, and digital marketing. She is co-author of the book, Building the Customer Centric Enterprise. She can be reached at