What it is and why it matters
Marketing analytics is the study of data to evaluate the performance of a marketing activity. By applying technology and analytical processes to marketing-related data, businesses can understand what drives consumer actions, refine their marketing campaigns and optimize their return on investment.
History of marketing analytics
It didn’t take long after the printing press was invented for marketing ads to appear. But it wasn’t until 1865, when the banker Sir Henry Furnese described beating his competitors by analyzing his own marketing and promotional techniques, that the term business intelligence entered the public domain. Fifty years later, the University of Pennsylvania introduced the world’s first marketing course. In 1942, when television ads began running, businesses knew there was value in determining which ads were converting viewers into customers.
The advent of the internet sped up the evolution of marketing analytics. Marketers began using digital attribution models to examine consumer behavior on a more granular level. These models measured the value of each consumer touch point to determine where and when a person engaged most meaningfully with a brand. Multi-touch attribution soon followed, allowing marketers to analyze a consumer's path along multiple devices and channels.
Today, marketing analytics is a common practice at most businesses. In fact, more than 80% of marketers say most of their decisions today are data driven. The abundance of data combined with the accessibility of powerful analytics tools has made it possible for marketing teams to evaluate every aspect of their digital marketing campaigns, giving businesses what is commonly described as a 360-degree view of the customer.
Marketing analytics in today’s world
The science of marketing is constantly evolving. Stay informed with these helpful resources.
What can you do with marketing analytics?
With analytics, you can answer questions like these:
- How are our marketing activities performing today? How about in the long run? What can we do to improve them?
- How do our marketing activities compare with our competitors? Where are they spending their marketing dollars? Are they using channels that we aren’t using?
- What should we do next? Are our marketing resources properly allocated? Are we devoting time and money to the right channels? How should we prioritize our investments over a certain time period?
Getting to 2030 and beyond
Saying that Jenn Chase, SAS Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, is customer obsessed is an understatement. Listen to her four recommendations for building a customer-centric marketing organization in this insightful 10-minute video.
How marketing analytics works
Marketing analytics requires more than just flashy tools. Marketing teams need a strategy that puts all their data in perspective. Here’s how marketing analytics works for most organizations.
1. Identify what you want to measure
Define exactly what you’re hoping to accomplish through your marketing. Start with the overall goal of your marketing strategy, then start drilling down into specific campaigns and marketing channels. Metrics can include return on investment, conversion rate, click rate or brand recognition. You also want to define benchmarks and milestones along the way that will help you evaluate and adapt your marketing techniques.
2. Use a balanced assortment of analytic techniques and tools
To get the most benefit from marketing analytics, you’ll want a balanced assortment of techniques and tools. Use analytics to:
- Report on the past. By using techniques that look at the past, you can answer questions such as: What campaign elements generated the most revenue last quarter? How did social media campaign A perform against direct mail campaign B? How many leads did we generate from this webinar series vs. that podcast season?
- Analyze the present. Determine how your marketing initiatives are performing right now. How are customers engaging with us? Which channels do our most profitable customers prefer? Who is talking about us and where?
- Predict or influence the future. Marketing analytics can deliver data-driven predictions that help you shape the future. You can answer questions such as: How can short-term wins be molded into loyalty? How will adding more sales representatives in underperforming regions affect revenue? Which cities should we target next?
3. Assess your analytic capabilities, and fill in the gaps
Marketing analytics technology is abundant so it can be hard to know which tools you really need. But don’t start there; start with your overall capability. Assess your current capabilities to determine where you are along the analytics spectrum. Then start identifying where the gaps are and develop a strategy for filling them in.
4. Act on what you learn
Using data is one of the greatest challenges facing marketing professionals these days. There’s just so. Much. Data! That’s why Step 1 is so important: If you know that what you’re currently doing isn’t helping you reach your goals, then you know it’s time to test and iterate.
Applied holistically, marketing analytics allows for more successful marketing campaigns and a better overall customer experience. Specifically, when acted upon, marketing analytics can lead to better supply and demand planning, price optimization, and robust lead nurturing and management – all of which leads to greater profitability.