doctor examining an x-ray with a student
Gut feelings will only get you so far — you've got to test and optimize your marketing campaigns PHOTO: University of Michigan MSIS

Larger organizations want to be more customer-centric to attract and retain more prospects, but operational optimization is crucial to closing more deals. 

These aren’t short-term business needs. And they’re not going to change or go away anytime soon.

These days, every business is at least partially an analytics business. Every process is grounded in analytics, and every employee is essentially an analytics user. 

A shift from IT-led reporting to business-led, self-service analytics shows a transition from technological purposes to business purposes. It’s easier than ever to attain and analyze data and to extract deep insights from varied big data sets.

Why CMOs Can’t Ignore Analytics

Data guides everything from business strategy to tactics. So CMOs can’t afford to just have expertise in the more “creative” aspects of marketing, such as branding and positioning, they must also be analytics experts. CMOs without customer analytics experience risk overlooking the actual needs and wants of their customers and prospects.

Tracking and analyzing actual customer behavior will help determine whether you’re off-track before it’s too late. And without analyzing industry data, you won’t know your standing with the competition, and you won’t have access to the insights provided by this granular data. 

It’s hard to know whether you’re gaining or losing market share without customer analytics. 

Modern marketing involves testing and optimizing, which requires analytics. Relying on past experience, industry trends or even recommendations without data to back it up could mean you’re wasting your budget.

Business Analytics User’s Guide

To better understand your customers and base your decisions on facts rather than assumptions, take advantage of the data at your disposal. Here are four ways to benefit from analytics:

1. Analyze and track your gut feelings

Using gut feelings to dictate marketing strategies and allocation of funds is becoming a thing of the past. 

Streaming video on demand, streaming radio, digital outdoor and even transactions on other sites are connected and more trackable. There’s no excuse to ignore data around impact, influence and performance. Whims and intuition can still play a part, but they need to take a backseat to data-driven decision-making.

How do you ensure that everything is data-driven? Track it. Make sure that every internal and external link includes a tracking code — this maximizes the amount of data your team can analyze. 

Understanding the customer journey will help you determine which of your tactics are effectively reaching your target audience. And, as Adobe and Econsultancy found in a recent study, just 17 percent of digital marketers believe they are analyzing their customers’ full journeys.

2. Base everything on consumer actions

Focus on customer behavior instead of vanity metrics like visits and page views. Did they look at several product pages before leaving your website? Did they use on-site search or a navigation bar to find various site pages?

Just like people’s behavior reveals more about them than what they choose to communicate, their online depicts their motivations, intent and experience more accurately than traffic counts.

3. Rely on clean data

Not all business intelligence data is equal. Talk to your analytics team or analytics partners to identify the cleanest and best data. They’ll explain the caveats, strengths and weaknesses and identify the best sources. 

Eliminate the data that is affected by bias or isn’t statistically significant. Data-driven decisions can be costly when the data proves to be false.

One of the biggest problems for CMOs is too much data and not enough resources or time to analyze it. The overwhelming amount of data can stress you out as you try to consume and make sense of it. Establish company goals, and then assign resources to collect and analyze data in the areas that have the highest potential to reach those goals.

4. Get everyone on board

Organizations, budgets and goals are complicated, so educating both leadership and operational-level colleagues about data analysis will help you gain their support. The entire team must work together to achieve the goal — otherwise, you’ll end up with empty results.

Utilizing cross-departmental task forces can ensure that analyzing and implementing insights from data is everyone’s responsibility. Widespread accountability ensures that every member of the team is invested in the proper use of data throughout the company’s efforts. Having input from multiple departments will also guarantee that you can determine which data points and metrics are vital for various roles.

As the analytics market continues to grow toward ease and self-service, it’s the perfect time to start using the wealth of data out there. CMOs have to prioritize analytics if they want to obtain and retain customers. The future is in business analytics. If CMOs don’t use data to their advantage, they’re going to be left behind.