An introduction to digital marketing analytics

What is marketing analytics? Learn why it’s important to measure and optimize your marketing activities, and how to get started.
November 2, 2021

Marketing analytics consists of processes and technologies that enable marketers to evaluate the success and value of their marketing initiatives, identify trends and patterns over time, and make data-driven decisions.

In general, marketing analytics tools can help you achieve four goals:

  • Measure campaign performance: Understand overall ROI, assess standard metrics and build more complex market mix models to maximize business impact.
  • Find opportunities in marketing performance: Segment users to see who responds to which particular marketing tactic. (For example, some campaigns work better in certain regions or on mobile devices. In email marketing, you can tell who is opening your emails, see your unsubscribe rate and test subject lines.)
  • Understand your customers: Mine customer demographics and behaviors, build target audiences, create statistical models to help predict campaign success.
  • Understand your competition: Adjust strategy based on market research and competitive analysis.

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Tracking the marketing journey

The marketing funnel below represents the typical B2C customer journey. The intent, of course, is for marketing to move the customer through each stage.

Awareness: The awareness stage is at the “top of the funnel” where you entice and educate. Campaigns, ads and content are placed where your target audience spends most of their time online. Name recognition to introduce a brand and/or product is the main goal at this stage.

Targeting is less focused. Messages should be inspirational or informative, not transactional in intent, as you’re catching people early in the decision-making process. They may not need your offering right away, but are more likely to remember your message when they do. At least, they’ll be primed for lower-funnel messages.

Growing your organic audience and keeping them engaged are primary goals of awareness campaigns. Marketing metrics here include reach, frequency and engagement. It isn’t usually possible to accurately measure the future impact of these early campaigns. However, companies that invest in brand advertising recognize its long-term value.

Consideration/Conversion: At these next stages, buyers are more actively appraising their product choices to take action. This is where you must convince them in order to drive conversion. The message should be tailored accordingly, with a clear call to action and frictionless way to transact.

These buyers may find you through organic or paid search or via referrals, affiliates, and influencers. Marketing metrics here include sales, sign-up or other action goals. Once the transaction takes place, turn to your marketing analytics dashboard and begin to measure conversion rates of your marketing efforts.  

Here is where you also capture contact information like “email address” so you can build a relationship through personalization. This leads us to the next stage.

Retention: After conversion, marketers must continue to nurture the relationship so their brands stay top of mind with their customers. An email list is a powerful asset at this stage. Email marketing analytics like click-through rates can play a big role in helping personalize retention campaigns.

All customer marketing data sources are critical to maintaining a robust customer profile. The information will inform ongoing tactics like search engine marketing, social media ads, and retargeting.

More ways to ensure data analytics in marketing success

Analytics rely on big data. For the average marketer, data may reside in over 17 different tools and applications. The key to success is being able to access combined data from multiple sources in a single place. Then, you can build strong models and clear reports.

But building your own data pipeline is ill-advised. The process is intensely time-consuming, error-prone and untested. Whereas an automated data integration tool like Fivetran will automatically bring all critical data together in a data warehouse. Then, a business intelligence tool like Chartio can be connected to provide intelligent visualizations, reports and dashboards.

Build meaningful marketing dashboards for your use cases

Although it’s tempting to track as many metrics and KPIs as possible, start with a few use cases and related dashboards. Then, you can purposefully expand what you track and ensure the insights provide the most business value.

Start by defining your goals and measuring the results for the most valuable use cases. Then, try out different combinations of data to see which insights inform the best decisions. Iterating on your dashboards helps you determine the right metrics and KPIs.

Choose appropriate analytics visualizations

When building charts and dashboards, choosing the most appropriate data visualizations is important. The right view allows for accurate data interpretation and insights to action. Plus, clear reports are vital to communication marketing’s value to the business.

Choose a data analytics tool that enables you to customize your visualizations instead of relying only on default charts for displaying data.

Develop models that measure and predict

Take a lesson from the Agile Methodology of continuous improvement. The approach is grounded in rapid test-and-learn cycles. In marketing, every measurement provides a new opportunity to do better — from optimizing campaigns to better customer experience and higher revenue. Try out different combinations of data to see what helps you make the best decisions.

Analyzing the past, however, is not enough in marketing. In addition to reporting campaign performance, it’s important to build an analytical model that can make predictions based on customer segments.

From personal preferences and regional differences to what time of day an email should be sent or ad served, your ability to forecast will improve. And this is where the rubber meets the road in marketing —  through a combination of analytics and prediction.

Conclusion

Marketing analytics measures marketing performance to improve the ROI of marketing efforts. Now that you have an overview of the goals, metrics and best practices for marketing analytics, you should have what you need to help your marketing team work more efficiently and make a bigger impact. Good luck!

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