Analytics exist not because marketers love a good color-coded line graph (up and to the right, please!) but because we are internally dogged by persistent, gnaw-at-the-mind, questions. Is anybody reading this? Wait, they are? Who are they? Where do they come from? What else are they interested in? How do I attract more of them? Am I influencing them? Are they becoming customers or just using me for my content? It’s maddening.
And so is data sometimes. There seems to be simultaneously too much of it and never enough. Take traffic numbers, for example: you can slice website traffic a number of different ways – look at new vs. returning visitors, unique visitors this month over last, etc. At the end of all that analysis though, you still don’t have a complete picture of how your marketing is doing. That’s because you have website analytics, not marketing analytics.
What’s the Difference?
Due in part to the overwhelming impact that the free service Google Analytics has had in the marketing space, when most marketers think about analytics they think in terms of unique visitors and time-on-site. While those are important indicators, today’s marketing goes well beyond the bounds of your website. It’s the intersection of what happens between your marketing channels and the outcome on the other side that provides the most insight.
Multichannel and Integrated
In marketing analytics systems, data is integrated in a way that enables you to see a direct relationship between channels. Individual views of website, social media, email and other channels alone isn’t enough. A multichannel view enables you to see how prospects are navigating their experience with you. Cross-channel questions marketing analytics data can answer include:
- How many people clicked through on your email but didn’t convert?
- Of the people who converted on your website, how many of them came from social media?
- Which results in more leads, PPC or organic search?
The biggest thing that separates marketing analytics from website analytics is that marketing analytics focuses on the full experience of prospective customers over time, from their first interactions with your company to their most recent conversions and beyond. In short, marketing analytics measures people, not pageviews. Customer-centric questions marketing analytics data can answer include:
- What first attracted people to my company?
- Was it different from what actually got them to buy?
- What are the most common marketing experiences of people who end up buying?
Tied to Sales
Finally, marketing analytics should be able to report on how each of your marketing efforts are contributing to bottom-line sales. This is typically achieved through an integration between the analytics and a customer relationship management (CRM) platform, like Salesforce.com. Knowing how many customers your marketing campaigns and channels delivered is critical for allocating your budget and time. ROI questions marketing analytics data can answer include:
- What PPC campaigns bring in the sort of leads that most often convert to customers?
- Does social media actually drive sales or is it just an engagement tool?
- Is the money I’m putting into this ad campaign resulting in sales?
Analytics tools are an essential part of marketing. Before making an investment, however, take some time to identify the questions that you need answered as a marketer. If your marketing strategy involves multiple channels and the buying cycle for your company typically relies on a number of touch-points, make sure your analytics solution can match that with a complete view of your customer lifecycle. With the right marketing analytics you can truly see how your marketing is contributing to the bottom line – that’s where all of those line graphs start to get really interesting.
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