2014-10-October-Action.jpgAnalytics has become the backbone of digital marketing success, and when used correctly, is a fundamental tool for smarter, data-driven marketing. Using analytics effectively means marketers are in a better position to recognize trends, uncover insights and take action such as personalizing content and remarketing in real time.

But the value of data to the business diminishes if it doesn’t enable timely action. That’s the reality that digital marketers face. They’re under increasing pressure to manage the deluge of data, extract real value and take action quickly.

So how exactly do marketers leverage that immense volume of data to take smarter action?

1. Why Things Happen: Trend Analysis

Being able to find trends in data is critical for marketers and analysts, as new trends can occur at any time. But recognizing them is just one part of the challenge. To deliver meaningful insight, CMOs rely on their teams to understand why products or stories are trending and what it means to their business.

Here is how analytics can help: A strong analytics solution enables marketers to identify trends or anomalies faster, e.g., when a retailer’s $200 product is selling for $20, or a popular story is buried on the wrong page of a publisher’s site. Analytics can identify and flag those anomalies quickly so a marketer doesn’t have to search for them or learn about them after it’s too late. These are data points with clear business value, finding them quickly is extremely important.

Managing data effectively also allows marketers to see rising and falling products or stories, geolocation trends, browser and device-type stats as well as traffic spikes and drops, which leads to smarter actions such as:

  • Understanding where to focus attention and resources
  • Knowing the best places to display products or stories on a website
  • Optimizing campaigns in real time

2. Uncover Insights: Machine Learning and Advanced Algorithms

What data matters most to the business? This can be hard to determine, especially considering the immensity of all the data an organization is likely measuring.

Simply investing in basic analytics won’t produce the key insights that drive business results. And isolating insight isn’t always as easy as hiring a data scientist -- assuming the business can find and afford one. The key is finding an effective analytics solution with the right capabilities, because the right advanced statistics and algorithms can play a critical role in surfacing meaningful insights.

For instance, analytics solutions capable of machine learning, through advanced algorithms and visualizations, are able to predict a range of potential sales across days, weeks and months. When trends fall outside the predicted range, anomalies occur and can be surfaced immediately to help marketers understand that something could be wrong or optimizations in a particular campaign are working better than expected.

3. Right Time Marketing: Automated Personalization

Aided by smart data, marketers are able to personalize messaging faster to deliver the right content, to the right person, at the right time on the right device. This is extremely important, as research has shown that individualized content leads to improved conversion and increased engagement.

So how is analytics enabling marketers to personalize content faster?

Automation is a major tool marketers are using to deliver relevant and individualized messaging in real time. Data is at the heart of automation. For instance, real time recommendations that are based on customer data are the most familiar form of automated personalization.

That’s just one example. Personalization is also built on data such as geolocations, referral sources, demographics, device type, first time vs. returning customer, etc. Using analytics data, marketers can develop their personalization strategy across channels and for a variety of customer personas.

4. Real Time Optimization

Several broadcasters have recently demonstrated the power of real time optimization during major sporting events, e.g., the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation during the World Cup and FOX Sports during the 2013 Super Bowl. In these cases, there’s a serious need for real time analytics, because there is a great opportunity for optimization with an audience that is so massive.

The idea is this: Real time marketing is a combination of data and personalization, and data management is one of the most important factors. Managing data effectively puts businesses in a much better position to leverage it to achieve optimization and better engage customers.

5. Understand the Customer Journey: Cross Device Consistency

Finally, as customers are accessing websites from a wider array of devices -- such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops, etc. -- it’s important for marketers to leverage smarter data to reach customers across devices. Plus, cross device monitoring provides a clearer 360-degree customer view.

One way marketers are reaching these customers at various points in their journey is by building cross channel and cross device profiles. This ensures consistency on computers, tablets or smartphones, as well as across channels, such as email, web and mobile.

Analytics also enables marketers to interact with customers wherever they are in that customer journey, e.g., new or returning customers, subscribers, former customers, loyal customers, etc.

So What Does This Mean For You

Today’s marketers face a daunting task: finding real business value in a massive haystack of customer data. And they must do it faster than ever.

It won’t get easier either. The deluge of data will continue to grow. Customers are increasingly reliant on the web to shop for their favorite products and find useful and engaging content. Customers want personalization and demand it in real time. So how do marketers get in front of this endless stream of data?

The answer is analytics. Trend analysis, isolating anomalies, personalization followed by real time marketing -- all priorities for today’s businesses -- are enhanced greatly by smarter data. And smarter data comes from integrating and leveraging the right analytics partner and tools.

Title image by reegone (Flickr) via a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license