In the old days of the “Mom and Pop” shop, marketing was simple: Make a great product and then tell people about it. While the underlying idea has remained the same, today’s methods are significantly more complicated. In the age of the internet, the phrase “everyone has a voice” is more than hyperbole; it’s a fact. In order to let people know about your product or service, you have to figure out a way to catch their attention, and then encourage them to spread the word.

In order to do that, companies are scrambling to gather information about their target markets. Once the data is gathered, they then have to interpret that data and adjust their marketing tactics to maximise exposure.

With so much data coming in, it becomes overwhelming to keep track of and interpret all of that information in any meaningful way. Companies are launching initiatives based on marketing data analytics, but they are often coming up short. Only 22% of marketers report having marketing initiatives based on hard data that achieve significant results. At the same time, less than half of company CMOs (44%) claim to be able to estimate return on investment.

While ROI isn’t always the easiest thing to estimate, Forbes Insights reports that only 21% of marketers are even attempting to to use analytics to measure marketing ROI for all marketing engagement, and only 25% are collecting customer data. More can be done.

With so much demand, a slew of marketing analytics tools — designed to assist companies in performing descriptive, prescriptive, and predictive analytics marketing — have cropped up and flooded the market. Just deciding which tool to use can be daunting. In order to narrow the field, there are a few factors you should keep in mind:

At the root of any analytics tool selection process lies one question: “What can it do?” Along with the data collection and analysis processes, effective tools will offer a range of other features. Here are four of the most important.

  1. Security
    When your business gathers data on your customers, you become responsible for that data. A significant part of that responsibility is keeping it safe from data leaks, breaches, and other attacks. Not only does the data represent an advantage over competitors if used correctly, it also can include sensitive information that cybercriminals could exploit. Any digital marketing analytics tool your company implements should have advanced security measures to protect that data.

  2. Reporting tools
    Once you have begun gathering data on your customers, you need to be able to interpret that data and display it in a way that makes sense. Many marketing analytics software solutions include tools that will allow you to look at specific crosstabs of your market and display the results graphically.

  3. Visualisation
    No matter how complete your captured data is, it will be completely useless to your company if you can’t understand it. Customer marketing analytics tools that incorporate data visualisation into their roster of features make it easy for all authorised users — not only those with IT training — to quickly grasp the information being shared. This is accomplished through the use of intuitive, image-heavy dashboards and reports. Visualisation bridges the gap between the raw information brought in from analytics tools, and those who use that information to make decisions.  

  4. Mobile-first design
    Just as the modern age has changed the way that marketing is performed, it has likewise changed how employees work. The rise of mobile computing makes it possible for employees to perform work-related duties while away from the office, and entire workforces are taking advantage of this new freedom. The number of devices used to perform enterprise tasks increased 72% from 2014 to 2015, and 61% of workers report working outside the office at least part of the time. With so much work taking place on mobile devices, mobile marketing analytics software is absolutely essential. Analytics tools that are designed for 100% functionality across mobile devices enable users to analyse and act upon important data at any time, from anywhere in the world.

Analytics exist to help make your job easier. With that in mind, analytics tools that are overly difficult to learn are often counterproductive. Analytics should be easy to access, allow for coordinated use across platforms and devices, empower users to easily switch between data sets and export data, and be capable of integrating with existing systems and processes. In short, a convenient marketing analytics solution doesn’t create further problems for those who use it.

In the end, it all comes down to how well the solution works for your needs. Investing in a new analytics system means little if it can’t deliver the data you need to improve the effectiveness of your marketing. Research a variety of different solutions and then make a final decision based on your company’s needs. Remember to take advantage of any free trial periods the various analytics options offer, and see for yourself how effective a particular solution will be.

Once you have spent some time gathering and analysing data about your customers, you have several ways to put that data into action. Over time, you will be able to determine how effective your current marketing efforts are, as well as devise future marketing plans.

Analytics software helps your marketing efforts become data-focused and allows all your efforts to be tracked and judged for success individually. Your marketing team can take that data and drill down to a micro level and draw informed conclusions that will give insight into future marketing decisions.

Predictive analytics can also help you focus your marketing efforts so that your marketing team is delivering high quality prospects to your sales team. By analysing previous and current customer data, you can start to predict how likely new prospects will be to buy. You can then focus your sales team on those who are more likely to convert into a sale. By executing on this data, improved business metrics are just short of a guarantee.

Although the methods have changed, marketing can still be a simple concept: Make a great product and then tell people about it. With the right data and tools, you’ll be able to reach your audience, no matter where they may be. Marketing analytics will give your business the edge it needs to make effective, informed marketing decisions. After all, your product is already worth sharing. Now all you need is the right information to capture your clients’ attention.

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