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What is Marketing Analytics: A Complete Guide

Learn how you can build a strong data-driven foundation at your company

What is marketing analytics?

Marketing analytics is the practice of collecting marketing data, analysing that data across sources, and finding valuable insights that optimise business objectives.

Marketing analytics tools and strategies can help businesses maximise their time and budgets, better connect with customers, and ultimately grow their revenue.

So, how can you build a strong marketing analytics practice at your business? Read on to learn more about what good marketing analytics can do for you and your business, how to overcome common challenges, and how to get started building a data-driven mindset at your company.

What are the biggest challenges in marketing analytics?

Building and maintaining marketing analytics is not without its challenges. Now that we’ve defined marketing analytics, let’s look at some barriers you may face

Marketers have large amounts of data

From web, to mobile, to email, to social channels, to ads on streaming services — there is no shortage of marketing data to process. New marketing channels and platforms are always emerging, so marketers have a growing number of sources to pull data from.

Email marketing continues to grow in popularity year after year, with the number of outbound emails rising 15% in the past year. Meanwhile, TV and streaming platforms saw the largest growth rates for connecting with customers.

All of these channels give marketers immense amounts of data. And this data can come in a variety of formats – different naming schemes, patterns, and granularity all make it difficult to both collect and ultimately compare performance across each of these channels.

No matter the size of the business, there will be a sea of data to ingest and organise, making it difficult to turn this data into insights.

The marketing ecosystem is constantly changing

On top of the amount of data, privacy laws surrounding what marketers can and can’t collect are also changing as people are demanding more privacy online.

In 2024, third-party cookies that track customers’ internet activity are expected to be retired by Google (among other internet giants). This means marketers won’t have access to hyper-specific data about what customers search for on other websites.

With the end of cookies and other data privacy laws taking effect, marketers will need to adapt their strategies to reach customers. 90% of marketers say that recent privacy changes to data have altered how they measure marketing performance. Many of these marketers are investing in technology to help them keep track of customer and marketing data more efficiently. They’re also investing more in first-party data they can control, like activity on their social and web channels.

Data is siloed and disconnected

Ninety eight percent of marketers understand the importance of having a complete, centralised view of all cross-channel marketing, but a whopping 71% of marketers still evaluate cross-channel marketing performance in silos.

These marketers are looking at disconnected pieces of data rather than one unified picture. This makes it difficult to gauge the effectiveness of marketing strategies, leading to decisions based on incorrect assumptions – and potentially negatively impacting earnings.

This type of data integration is challenging because data can often span departments, teams, and technologies within an organisation, which creates a variety of technical and logistical hurdles to overcome.

Translating insights into action

Gathering data is only one part of the puzzle: your team must also understand how to interpret that data and make decisions with it.

Often, retrospective or forward-looking analysis can take a backseat when marketers are faced with deadlines and other urgent work. Being able to serve insights where and when marketers need them, and making sure they’re as accessible as possible, is critical to making sure all this data actually can make an impact.

How can a strong marketing analytics practice help?

Now that you understand the key challenges with marketing analytics, Let’s take a look at a few of the benefits of good marketing analytics.

You get a complete view of your customer

Analytics takes the guesswork out of your marketing. Instead of assuming your customers are engaging with your messaging, marketing analytics prove it.

Marketing analytics gives you a unified view of your customer by helping you understand their digital interactions, preferences, and their response to your marketing.

Seeing this unified view of your customer helps you understand the customer journey. You can then create more personalised experiences that will drive conversions and business growth.

You gain valuable and timely optimisation insights

Marketing analytics show you how your campaigns are performing as they happen. This allows you to test the effectiveness of your marketing through things like A/B tests and see the results come in real time. You can then use the data to pivot toward new strategies.

Real-time data collection is far better than evaluating data once a campaign is complete. Every marketing campaign has multiple moving parts that could contribute to its success, and marketing analytics allows you to see the nuances of each and adapt in real time.

Access to real-time data and forecasting helps boost revenue growth for the whole company. Campaigns can be quickly adjusted to perform better and earn more.

You can prove marketing’s impact on driving business growth

Without marketing analytics, it isn’t easy to prove the success of your team’s efforts.

Eighty percent of marketers say their ability to track ROI for their marketing investment could use improvement.

Marketing analytics is tangible proof of how the marketing department is helping a company grow. This can be shown in conversions, increased revenue, and customer retention.

Marketers can also show how their marketing improves the customer experience and customers’ perception of the brand. This data is critical to ensuring future funding for marketing projects.

How to get started with marketing analytics

Now that you understand the why of marketing analytics, let’s dive into the basics of how to set a foundation for success.

Define your goals and benchmarks

When you’re just getting started with marketing analytics, you may struggle to understand it all. Establishing goals and benchmarks early will help narrow down which metrics to focus on so it’s less overwhelming. Remember to include all relevant stakeholders across your company when planning goals so everyone’s voice is heard.

Goals are points of success your company wants to achieve. These will differ depending on the campaign, but it’s essential to establish them early so you can track your progress along the way.

On the other hand, benchmarks are numbers you’re trying to exceed. For instance, you may set a benchmark to outperform a number you hit last year. Or your benchmarks could be developed by researching competitors’ numbers or industry standards.

Tracking goals and benchmarks in real time will keep your team working toward a shared purpose and allow you to correct your course if you fall behind.

Understand the different types of analytics

Data analytics helps businesses turn abstract numbers into revenue-boosting insights. To do this, they typically use three types of analytics: descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive.

Descriptive analytics looks at past and present data to check campaign performance, social media following, or quarterly marketing revenue.

Predictive analytics takes a step beyond descriptive analytics and looks to the future. Predictive analytics analyses patterns across data points to forecast probable events. Eighty-six percent of executives who used predictive analytics over two years reported increased ROI.

Prescriptive analytics explore the “what ifs” of possible outcomes. This type of analytics empowers companies to explore what may happen in the future if they adopt specific marketing strategies.

Embrace the power of AI

Only 33% of marketers strongly agree they gain insights fast enough for impactful decision-making. Using AI can speed up these insights and help you make decisions faster.

Predictive intelligence scans your data and uses patterns to make predictions. Then prescriptive action uses those predictions to make suggestions for optimising your marketing strategy.

Communicate results visually

Visualisations can help you tell a story with data. Use the goals and benchmarks mentioned above, along with KPIs, to create visual representations of your data.

Visual reporting through dashboards makes it easy to share results with stakeholders in your company.

Don’t know how to code? Not a problem. A marketing analytics platform will help you create visualisations without HTML or CSS. Marketing analytics platforms have drag-and-drop features that you can use to create impactful marketing data visuals. Dashboards are also collaborative, so teams can edit and update visuals as needed.

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How to build a data-driven marketing culture

In order for marketing analytics to be effective, it needs to become part of the culture at your company. Your people, processes, and technology will all need to shift to be more data-oriented.

Here are a few ways to make marketing analytics a priority on your team.

Establish your stakeholders

Before you can implement a fantastic marketing analytics strategy, you need to establish who’s in charge of the data. Determine the key stakeholders and collaborators who will need access to the marketing data. Establishing who’s in charge will save you time later when it comes to tracking down different data points.

In addition to establishing stakeholders, it’s very important to make sure that marketing and sales teams are aligned on goals. When these two teams share business objectives, it’s easier for them to work in tandem to knock these goals out of the park.

Start making data a central part of more team discussions and make it a habit to start and end projects with data.

Prioritise data integration

In today’s marketing departments, there are so many tools used to connect with customers. Each of these tools is gathering its own data, and that can make pulling a holistic marketing report a nightmare.

Instead of trying to pull data from all of these sources, try an integrated marketing analytics platform that acts as a single source of truth. You’ll want to choose a platform that’s designed for marketers so that it’s easy to use and understand.

With a centralised, integrated data source, marketers can get more accurate numbers and stay up to date on the most important KPIs.

Take a first-party data approach

With the demise of third-party cookies, first-party data will become even more important. First-party data is the data you collect from customers on your channels.

Examples of first-party data include:

  • Customer support chat transcripts
  • Social media interactions
  • User behaviour on your website

In order to take a first-party data approach, you’ll need to set in place new ways to gather customer information. Lead generation campaigns are a great way to collect contact information for potential customers in exchange for quality content. Survey questions are a good way to understand what customers are looking for and segment them into different groups for marketing. Asking for customer reviews can help gather feedback and build out customer profiles as well.

First-party data will also help you create personalised content for specific customers which is important because customers who see content tailored to their interests are five times more likely to engage with a brand.

A customer data platform (CDP) that stores all of your customer data in one place will be extremely helpful in navigating the move away from cookies and toward first-party data.

Invest in the right technology

There are plenty of tools for marketing analytics, and in order to establish a data-driven marketing culture, you’ll want to invest in the right ones.

Marketing analytics tools will help your team sift through all the data and determine insights that matter. Look for a marketing analytics platform that acts as an all-in-one tool. A quality marketing analytics platform will bring in data from disparate places so you can view it all together.

Get Started with Marketing Analytics

Salesforce has many marketing tools that can help you expertly manage your marketing and customer data. Keep track of customer data and make customer engagements more personal.