8 Rules For Effective Marketing Analytics

By James Walker

Marketers today are all about harnessing data to make more effective marketing decisions and uncover new insights about their customers to power innovation and new communications strategies. The marketing communications revolution of the last decade has created the need to look at ecosystems of brands and better reflect real consumer behavior. Here are eight rules that can help to get the job done.

1. Dance with ambiguity

Different analyses, data sets, and consumer research can yield different answers. Analytics can’t be used blindly; there is an art to combining the different pieces of evidence. Although some analyses may appear to be contradictory, the ability to embrace apparent ambiguity is fundamental to building a 21st-century marketing analytics capability. New marketing analytics capabilities must break through the silos of research and customer analytics and embrace the ambiguous answers that come from different types of analyses.

2. Look to meta models

There are too many point solutions to look at aspects of the market mix individually. It’s better to build meta models that absorb different vendors’ individual effectiveness/targeting models for different media. Media models do not need to be huge data and equation integration exercises. They can be as simple as building a spreadsheet to attack an everyday problem, but include in that all the coefficients you have from different point solutions. Consumer research and customer analytics can be combined in your “spreadsheet” to create overall meta models that break silos.

3. Consider analytics a creative force

Analytics involves more than asking the analytics oracle, “Hey, should I increase my price? And "which customers should I target?” Analytics should be helping with innovation, answering questions you have not asked -- a philosophical departure from how most companies think about analytics. If you use analytics creatively, you will experience the freedom it offers to explore its insights for new ideas to innovate around.

4. Tear down the analytics department

Today’s marketing analytics capabilities are all about empowering the whole organization with tools and an analytical mindset. Marketers should have desktop tools to create their own analyses. A distributed model of marketing analytics achieves analytical leverage in your organization.

5. Embrace new data

What’s new data? Automakers now have real customer behavior data from car black boxes, measuring actual journey length, how cars are driven, and the difference between weekdays and weekends. Usage data is now marketing data, and it’s incredibly powerful. If you combine "new data" with a distributed model of who does the analytics, and see analytics as a creative force, then you can begin to create a transformative marketing analytics capability.

6. Understand that big data is actually quantum data

There is a lot of talk about big data. But in truth, large amounts of customer data actually enable you to do increasingly finite analyses. Creating an analytics capability can be about being super-local, targeting by cohort of customers, and analysis of individual marketing campaigns against individual people. You need to think about these small and detailed analyses; don’t view analytics as something that is saved just for "big decisions."

7. Invest in technology

A great investment in technology is required to realize the distributed model of analytics across marketers, and to realize the complexity of meta models and navigating ambiguity and contradictory readings. But the power of analytics as a creative force -- that all marketers at your organization can be empowered by -- can only be realized by giving analytics firepower to the marketing teams. It’s not cheap, but in the context of the costs of marketing, investment in marketing technology to make more efficient and effective decisions is relatively inexpensive.

8.  Adopt a future focus

Analytics are successful when they make a difference to the business. An analytics capability must look broadly at consumer behavior, think about who you really compete with, and have a view on the future business environment. You’re part of an ecosystem of content and technology, or product and distribution, or your credit card is one of 10 in the customer’s wallet, each used for different types of occasions. These ecosystems are rapidly evolving, so your future is incredibly different than your past. Analytics must recognize this with a future focus.

James Walker (jmwalker@prophet.com) is Senior Partner at Prophet, a strategic brand and marketing consultancy that helps its clients win by delivering inspired and actionable ideas.


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