Marketing analytics - a pivotal role in driving growth

A meticulously crafted marketing analytics strategy can unveil crucial insights into consumer behaviour, which is instrumental in making informed business decisions.

Abstract: In the contemporary marketing landscape, harnessing analytical insights is paramount for sustainable growth. In this article, I emphasise the pivotal role of marketing analytics in driving business growth. It delves into how robust analytical frameworks can aid in comprehending consumer behaviour, optimising marketing initiatives, and enhancing market share and profitability. By explicating real-world examples and offering a strategic blueprint, this article provides a comprehensive guide for marketers aiming to leverage analytics for growth.

Marketing Analytics Growth - An Introduction

In the rapidly evolving digital landscape, marketing analytics has emerged as a critical tool for businesses to navigate their growth strategies. It is the process of tracking and analysing data from marketing efforts, often with the aim of reaching a quantitative goal. Insights gleaned from marketing analytics can enable organisations to enhance their customer experiences, increase the return on investment (ROI) of marketing efforts, and craft future marketing strategies

Marketing Analytics Growth

In today's market landscape, the importance of analytics cannot be overstated. According to a report by PwC, highly data-driven companies are three times more likely to see significant improvements in decision-making. More than 80% of marketing professionals base their decisions on data, using advanced analytic tools to evaluate digital marketing campaigns at every step of the customer experience. Moreover, statistics show that 54% of companies that extensively use marketing analytics have higher profit margins than the average. This is a testament to the power of data-driven decision-making in shaping successful business outcomes. 

However, it's not just about having data; the quality of data is paramount. High-quality data is essential since the decisions made based on insights derived from data can significantly impact the success of a business. Therefore, businesses must invest in reliable analytics tools and ensure their data is accurate and relevant. Marketing analytics is a powerful tool that allows businesses to understand their customers better, measure the effectiveness of their marketing strategies, and make informed decisions that drive growth. As we move further into the digital age, the role of analytics in shaping the market landscape will only continue to grow. 

Stay tuned for more insights on the types of marketing analytics, real-world use cases, and how to craft a strategic roadmap for analytics growth in the upcoming sections of this article.

Marketing Analytics - Definition and Scope

Marketing analytics is the practice of using data to evaluate the effectiveness and success of marketing activities. It involves collecting, analysing, and interpreting data related to marketing efforts and activities. The primary goal of marketing analytics is to increase actionable knowledge that can be used in your marketing strategy to optimise marketing objectives and achieve a better return on investment. Marketing analytics allows marketers to gather deeper consumer insights, optimise marketing objectives, and get a better return on investment. It benefits both marketers and consumers by enabling marketers to achieve higher ROI on marketing investments by understanding what is successful in driving conversions, brand awareness, or both. It also ensures that consumers see more targeted, personalised ads that speak to their specific needs and interests rather than mass communications.

Types of Marketing Analytics

When I introduced the Marketing Analytics Maturity Model, I explained that there are five primary types of marketing analytics: Descriptive, Diagnostic, Predictive, Prescriptive, and Cognitive.

  • Descriptive Analytics: This type of analytics uses data to tell you what happened in the past. It provides context for a better understanding of what’s happening currently. For example, to understand how a recent blog post is performing, a marketing analyst could look at its page views and other web analytics over its first 30 days and compare the data to the first 30 days performance of similar blog posts published in the past.
  • Diagnostic Analytics: While not explicitly mentioned in the search results, diagnostic analytics is typically understood as the process of examining data or content to answer the question "Why did something happen?". It involves more diverse data inputs and a bit of hypothesising and exploration to understand the root causes of a particular outcome.
  • Predictive Analytics: Predictive analytics is the application of statistical and machine learning algorithms to predict future outcomes with high probability. It is widely applied in marketing to spot correlation patterns in customers' behaviour to predict future tendencies in purchasing.
  • Prescriptive Analytics: Prescriptive analytics focuses on using past marketing data to recommend the most impactful things you can do. It aims to predict the future, but it’s more focused on the question, ‘How can you impact what happens?’ For example, if your predictive analytics work has highlighted potentially profitable new segments to target, prescriptive analytics can help you figure out precisely how and when to reach them to maximise your chances of converting them.
  • Cognitive Analytics: Cognitive analytics imitates human brains to draw inferences and insights from existing data patterns. This helps businesses to arrive at critical business decisions and conclusions based on existing data. Cognitive analytics thus becomes more effective from the interactions with data and humans. By searching through the entire data present in the knowledge base, cognitive analytics arrive at real-time solutions.

Stages of Marketing Marketing Analytics Maturity

The Marketing Analytics Maturity Model provides a roadmap for businesses to evolve from basic ad hoc analytics to more sophisticated, data-driven decision-making processes. The model consists of five distinct stages: ad-hoc, developing, advanced, optimised, and leading.

Marketing Analytics Maturity Model

Marketing Analytics Maturity Model (Source: Steve King)

At the ad-hoc stage, businesses are at the beginning of their analytics journey. They may use basic visualisations and data exploration in an opportunistic or ad-hoc fashion. This stage focuses primarily on data visualisation, reporting, and self-service business intelligence. A more defined approach to analytics characterises the developing stage. Businesses at this stage have identified the metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) they need to track and have identified the data sources that provide the necessary data for these metrics. They have also started to create dashboards that provide meaningful insights. At the advanced stage, businesses have a more mature approach to analytics. They have moved beyond just looking at what has happened and have started to look forward and answer questions about future developments. They have shifted from hindsight to foresight, increasing the value of the data they have at their disposal.

In the optimised stage, businesses have maximised the automation of decision-making processes and made analytics the basis for innovations and overall development. They use advanced predictive analytics techniques to forecast future trends and make proactive decisions. At this stage, analytics extends beyond predicting future outcomes by utilising vast amounts of historical data, real-time data streams, and information about past decision outcomes to automatically recommend optimal courses of action and suggest options for optimisation.  At the leading stage, businesses have reached the highest level of analytics maturity. They have a data-driven culture, cross-functional collaboration, and use advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. They can use data-driven insights to optimise their operations, customer experience, and overall business performance.

Self-assessment: Where Does Your Company Stand?

To understand where your company stands in terms of marketing analytics maturity, it's important to conduct a self-assessment. This involves evaluating your current analytics capabilities and identifying areas for improvement. The assessment should consider your data’s readiness to drive value through analysis, your business’s approach to analytics, your analytics team dynamics, and the tools and techniques that support your business in analytics.

By understanding where you stand and what steps you need to take to improve, you can make smarter, data-driven decisions that drive growth and improve ROI. This self-assessment can serve as a roadmap for your organisation's journey towards analytics maturity, helping you to stay ahead of the competition and make the most out of your marketing efforts.

Crafting a Strategic Roadmap for Marketing Analytics Growth

This section outlines the pivotal steps in constructing a strategic roadmap for advancing your marketing analytics maturity. It emphasises the foundational role of identifying clear business goals and objectives as set forth by your executive team. Following this, I underscore the importance of aligning these objectives with appropriate Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) tailored to your specific marketing channels. Finally, we delve into the intricacies of building or refining a high-performing analytics team, highlighting the necessity of fostering a data-driven culture, selecting effective tools, and delivering actionable insights. This gives executives a robust framework to navigate modern marketing analytics complexities strategically.

Marketing Analytics Process Flow

Marketing Analytics Process Flow (Source: Qlik)

Identifying Business Goals and Objectives

The first step in crafting a strategic roadmap for analytics growth is identifying your business goals and objectives. These are the overarching targets that your company aims to achieve and are typically set by your CEO or executive team. The objectives can range from simple goals like increasing sales to more nuanced objectives like enhancing profitability or decreasing the cost per lead. Understanding these business objectives is a crucial starting point for your marketing and analytics.

For instance, a new B2B lead generation business might aim to increase customers. In contrast, a more established B2B company may focus on decreasing the cost per lead. A direct-to-consumer company may have increasing sales as their objective. These objectives should be measurable and realistic so that you can map out your efforts in a strategic and focused way.

Selecting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Once you have identified your business goals and objectives, the next step is to select Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). KPIs are measurable metrics that gauge overall performance over time and help you understand how your company is performing at achieving certain goals or objectives.

There are KPIs for every aspect of business, whether it's financial, marketing, sales, or operational. Some examples of marketing KPIs include Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), Lifetime Value of a Customer (LTV), Return on Investment (ROI), Return on Ad Spend (ROAS), Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL), Sales Qualified Leads (SQL), Follower Growth, Conversion Rate, Website Visitors, Social Media Engagement, Referral Traffic, Net Promoter Score (NPS), Organic Traffic, and Event Attendance.

Selecting the right KPIs requires a deep understanding of the brand's objectives and the nuances of its target audience. It's essential to align your KPIs with the specific marketing channels you employ. For example, if you're heavily invested in content marketing, you might prioritise content engagement and lead generation metrics. Conversely, if social media marketing is your primary focus, follower growth and post engagement metrics would be more relevant.

Building or Refining Your Analytics Team

Building or refining your analytics team is the final step in crafting a strategic roadmap for analytics growth. This involves hiring or developing the right skills and roles, establishing a data-driven culture and mindset, leveraging the best tools and technologies, and delivering actionable insights and recommendations.

Marketing analytics requires a diverse set of skills and roles, depending on the complexity and scale of your data and analytics needs. You may need data engineers, data analysts, data scientists, data visualization experts, data storytellers, and data translators, among others. You also need to balance technical skills with business acumen and communication skills.

To lead a high-performing marketing analytics team, you need to foster a data-driven culture and mindset across your team and the wider marketing organization. This means encouraging curiosity, experimentation, learning, and feedback based on data. It also means promoting data literacy, data quality, data ethics, and data security among your team members and stakeholders. Another way to build and lead a high-performing marketing analytics team is to leverage the best tools and technologies that can support your data and analytics needs. There are many options available in the market, ranging from data collection and integration tools, to data analysis and modeling tools, to data visualization and reporting tools.

Growth Rate in Data Maturity

Growth Rate in Data Maturity (Source: BCG Analysis)

Finally, to build and lead a high-performing marketing analytics team, you need to deliver actionable insights and recommendations that can drive business results. This means not only providing data and facts, but also telling stories and narratives that can explain the why and the how behind the data. It also means not only presenting findings and conclusions, but also suggesting solutions and actions that can improve the performance and efficiency of marketing campaigns and strategies.

Investment in Marketing Analytics Tools and Technology

We'll examine three cornerstone elements for improving your marketing strategy: selecting analytics tools, integrating your technology stack, and budgetary considerations. We'll begin by listing essential marketing analytics tools for 2023, such as Google Analytics and MixPanel, outlining their distinct functionalities. Then, we'll explore the concept of a marketing technology (martech) stack, emphasising the importance of smart tool selection and integration to ensure cross-functional collaboration and operational agility. Finally, we'll tackle the issue of budgeting and ROI, providing a straightforward formula for calculating ROI and offering techniques for optimisation. All these elements coalesce to make your marketing efforts data-driven, efficient, and most importantly, impactful on your bottom line.

Marketing Analytics Tools

Essential Tools for Marketing Analytics

Marketing analytics tools are crucial for transforming raw data into actionable insights, leading to more effective campaigns, greater customer understanding, and ultimately, a robust boost to your company's bottom line. Here are some of the top marketing analytics tools for 2023:

  • Google Analytics: This tool is essential for tracking website traffic and user behaviour, providing valuable insights into how users interact with your website.
  • MixPanel: MixPanel allows you to analyse user behaviour across your platforms, providing insights into how users interact with your products.
  • Heap Analytics: Heap automatically captures every web, mobile, and cloud interaction, providing comprehensive behavioural data.
  • Supermetrics: This tool is one of the cheapest digital marketing analytics tools, starting at only $39/month. It offers rudimentary product offerings but can be a cost-effective solution for some businesses.
  • Improvado: This tool offers over 500 connectors across Marketing and Sales, Operations, IT, HR, and Finance. However, it may not be the best choice for the aggregation and visualisation of marketing data.
  • Ninjacat: This all-in-one tool for reporting, monitoring, and call tracking integrates with commonly used PPC, SEO, display, social media, and call tracking channels.

Technology Stack Integration

A marketing technology (or martech) stack is the collection of technologies that marketers use to optimise and augment their marketing processes throughout the customer lifecycle. Building a smarter martech stack involves consolidating and optimising your marketing technology stack to enhance your platform ecosystem with tools that play nicely together, enable frictionless collaboration for cross-functional teams, and increase the agility of your marketing operations. 

When building your martech stack, it's crucial to devise your marketing strategy around your product, your desired audience, and how to reach them. You'll need to carefully analyse your current marketing practices and identify where they match the strategy and where they block it. 

Budgeting and ROI Considerations

Before you can compare your digital marketing ROI and budget, you need to define your goals and metrics. Common goals and metrics for digital marketing include increasing website traffic, generating leads, and boosting sales. 

To calculate ROI, subtract total costs from revenue to get net profit. ROI = (Net Profit / Total Costs) *100. 

Benchmarking your digital marketing ROI with industry averages or competitors is a great way to get insights into your competitors' strategies and results. Segmenting your digital marketing ROI across different channels, platforms, campaigns, or audiences will help you identify which ones are more effective and profitable

After comparing your digital marketing ROI and budget, you can optimise them to improve your results and efficiency. Testing different elements of your digital marketing campaigns, such as headlines, images, copy, keywords, or offers, can reveal which ones perform better and increase your ROI. Investing in the right marketing analytics tools, integrating your technology stack, and considering budgeting and ROI are all crucial steps in enhancing your marketing strategy. By doing so, you can ensure that your marketing efforts are data-driven, efficient, and effective, ultimately leading to a robust boost to your enterprise's bottom line.

We can now look at three pivotal components for business growth and ROI: data quality and governance, talent acquisition and retention, and avoiding common pitfalls when scaling. Initially, we delve into the complexities of data consolidation, emphasising that data quality is a backend battle fraught with challenges like incompatibility and security. Governance is presented as the linchpin for streamlining data and analytics practices. The section on talent acquisition highlights the importance of analytics in refining the hiring process, helping to identify skills gaps and reduce bias. Finally, we illuminate the risks of scaling across different markets, cautioning against pitfalls like resource overstretch and cultural ignorance.

Marketing Analytics Data Scaling

Data Quality and Governance

Data consolidation from various sources has become a critical aspect of business operations in the rapidly evolving digital landscape. However, this process is not without its challenges. The "garbage in, garbage out" rule is particularly relevant. The real battle for data quality now revolves around the backend, where integrating and consolidating this data can pose significant risks and challenges. Ensuring data quality at this stage is paramount for organisations seeking to maximise their return on investment (ROI) from data-driven initiatives.

Data consolidation challenges and risks include data incompatibility, data integrity, data duplication, data security, data governance, data transformation errors, data volume and scalability, data timeliness, lack of data quality monitoring, cost overruns, and loss of context. An enhanced analytics governance framework can help track the common issues around various practices & policies, providing a set of guiding principles. Governance today is a critical element around your data & analytics capabilities and can be easily said to be a set of guiding principles for streamlining the work of managers, analytics and data management practitioners to work towards a streamlined approach.

Talent Acquisition and Retention

To recruit the best talent as efficiently as possible, you need to take advantage of talent acquisition analytics. Integrating talent acquisition metrics and analytics into your hiring plan will make your process more effective at securing the best candidates by identifying key skills gaps and eliminating bias. Talent acquisition analytics enable you to assess what makes an employee successful, helping you to identify the most qualified candidates and boost retention by hiring right the first time. Understanding these key points enables you to build a candidate persona that perfectly suits your organisation. Then, you can compare each potential hire’s data to get an idea of their future performance and success.

Using analytics in talent acquisition enables you to make decisions based on the skills and experience needed for the role without considering stereotypes, attitudes, and emotional reactions. Talent acquisition metrics and analytics can be a powerful part of your skills-gap analysis process.

Avoiding Common Pitfalls

Scaling a business across different markets or regions can be a rewarding but risky strategy. It can help you reach new customers, diversify your revenue streams, and leverage your competitive advantages. However, it also comes with many challenges and pitfalls that can derail your growth and damage your reputation. Common pitfalls to avoid when scaling a business across different markets or regions include failing to understand the local context, overstretching your resources and capabilities, neglecting your core market and customers, underestimating the competition and regulations, ignoring the cultural and linguistic diversity, and lacking a clear vision and leadership.

In conclusion, while data consolidation, talent acquisition, and scaling are essential for harnessing the full potential of data and growing your business, they come with inherent challenges and risks. Organisations must invest in robust data governance, quality assurance processes, and security measures to mitigate these risks and ensure that their consolidated data remains accurate, secure, and valuable for making informed decisions and achieving the best ROI. They must also leverage talent acquisition analytics to recruit and retain the best talent, and avoid common pitfalls when scaling their business.

Analytics Growth Case Studies

The section showcases the experiences of three major companies—Microsoft, Uber, and AB InBev—in successfully scaling their analytics operations. Microsoft used analytics to improve collaboration by optimising building space, resulting in considerable savings. Uber employed a machine learning tool called COTA to expedite customer support ticket resolution. AB InBev, after unifying its independent breweries, leveraged cloud-based data for better demand forecasting and decision-making.

Marketing Analytics Case Studies

We then look at a set of best practices for scaling analytics operations. A unified commitment from management is imperative, along with creating cross-functional, agile teams to spur innovation. Analytics should be deeply embedded in decision-making processes, and all decisions should be data-driven. The article further emphasises the importance of adaptability to market changes, effective task delegation for maximising efficiency, and maintaining a focus on the long-term vision of the enterprise.

Companies that Successfully Scaled their Analytics Operations

Microsoft's Workplace Analytics team used data analytics to improve productivity and collaboration. They hypothesised that relocating a 1,200-person group from five buildings to four could enhance collaboration by increasing the number of employees per building and reducing the distance staff needed to travel for meetings. The move resulted in a 46% decrease in meeting travel time, saving a combined 100 hours per week across all relocated staff members and an estimated savings of $520,000 per year in employee time.

Uber implemented a tool called COTA (Customer Obsession Ticket Assistant) to enhance customer support. This tool uses machine learning to predict the most appropriate response to a customer support ticket, reducing ticket resolution time by 10%.

AB InBev, a brewing company, underwent a digital transformation by compiling their network of independent breweries into a unified powerhouse. They prioritised getting their data in the cloud, enabling employees to pull globally gathered data and use it to make data-backed decisions. More accurate demand forecasting allowed AB InBev teams to match supply with demand, which is essential for such a large company with a complex supply chain.

Lessons Learned and Best Practices

  • Unified Commitment: Obtaining a strong, unified commitment from all levels of management is crucial for successfully scaling analytics operations. This involves integrating analytics across all lines of business and functions, requiring a clear, coordinated strategy and focused investment.
  • Cross-Functional, Collaborative Teams: Creating cross-functional, collaborative agile teams is another key driver of success. These teams foster innovation and propel analytics initiatives throughout the organisation.
  • Embedding Analytics into Decision-Making Processes: The biggest challenge in any organisation’s analytics journey is turning insights into outcomes. This involves embedding analytics into the core of all workflows and decision-making processes.
  • Data-Driven Decisions: Making data-driven decisions is a critical aspect of scaling a startup. By relying on data, you can make more informed, evidence-based decisions that are better aligned with your goals and values.
  • Adaptability: One of the biggest challenges of scaling a startup is the need to constantly adapt to changing market conditions. Whether it's the arrival of new competitors, shifts in consumer behaviour, or technological advancements, the business world is always in flux. If you're not able to adapt to these changes, your startup could quickly become outdated and fall behind.
  • Prioritising and Delegating Tasks: Prioritising and delegating tasks effectively is a critical aspect of scaling a startup. As your team grows and the workload increases, it's important to delegate tasks in order to maximise efficiency and ensure that everyone is working to their fullest potential.
  • Staying Focused on the Long-Term Vision: Staying focused on the long-term vision is a crucial aspect of scaling a startup. With so many demands on your time and resources, it can be easy to get bogged down in day-to-day operations and lose sight of your ultimate goals.

Summarising the Strategic Path Forward

In the rapidly evolving business landscape, the strategic path forward for C-suite executives is clear: harness the power of marketing analytics to drive superior growth. The development of advanced analytical tools and approaches has given business leaders significant decision-making firepower, yet many organisations seem almost paralysed by the choices on offer. 

Marketing analytics, when used effectively, can free up 15% to 20% of marketing spending, equating to as much as $200 billion that can be reinvested by companies or drop straight to the bottom line[1]. It's not just about finding patterns and correlations that aren't apparent on the surface but can make a huge difference to your bottom line. It should be the basis for setting up goals, looking at the funnel and stages dripping in performance, and coming up with measures to improve those metrics and optimise expenses.

The key to unlocking this potential lies in integrating marketing ROI options in a way that takes advantage of the best assets of each. This approach requires a sophisticated understanding of data analysis and interpretation, as well as the ability to use data-driven insights to improve your marketing strategy. To establish the right marketing mix, organisations need to evaluate the pros and cons of each of the many available tools and methods to determine which best supports their strategy. This includes advanced analytics approaches such as marketing-mix modelling (MMM), which uses big data to determine the effectiveness of spending by channel. 

In conclusion, the strategic path forward is to leverage marketing analytics to drive growth, make informed decisions, and optimise marketing spend. The call to action for C-suite executives is to embrace this approach, invest in the right tools and technologies, and foster a culture of data-driven decision-making.

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Posted by Steve King
This article was written by Steve King
I am a marketing and analytics professional with over 15 years experience in strategic marketing development. I am passionate about working with organisations that want to improve their marketing effectiveness and get more from their data; who wish to use its potential to describe what has happened, prescript operational activity and predict business outcomes.