Analytics has differing meanings to marketing and business professionals. In our efforts to prove that we can account for everything, we often unknowingly complicate the issues that matter most. With all the data at our disposal and the powerful new tools available to us, it's not uncommon to overshoot what we need as we strive to deliver business impact. So it's important that we get back to the basics—get them right and build from there.
The term "analytics" seems to be used differently by pundits and practitioners alike. According to Business Dictionary, it applies to anything that involves measurement. In marketing however, analytics more specifically involves studying historical data to research potential trends, analyze the effects of certain decisions or events, or evaluate the performance of a given tool or program. The real goal of analytics is to positively impact the business by gaining knowledge that can be applied to make improvements or changes.
In order to frame the effort, you could use two analytics buckets, each having unique values and overlapping purposes. It's important to measure and analyze both in order to effectively advance capabilities.
1. Marketing Outcomes: The analytics marketers use to guide and improve marketing performance, investments and decisions, encompassing everything from creative to channels to technology.
2. Business Outcomes: The analytics marketers use to measure overall business value in order to prove marketing's return on investment (ROI) and secure funding for key initiatives.
Marketing analytics are vital to understanding which marketing strategies and tactics are working and which aren't. Insightful presentation of data guides marketing pros in areas, such as content topics, social media channels and Web design. This allows professionals to shed the guesswork and instead, use data to drive decisions, thus spending less time on low-value tactics.
With marketing performance data in hand, business analytics are essential to measure the impact on the organization's bottom line. These insights guide investments in areas like media, events and digital campaigns, and allow us to measure customer results such as acquisition, lifetime value, revenue and profit driven by our marketing spend. This is unquestionably the language we as marketers must use with our stakeholders.