Measuring marketing effectiveness has always been a challenge. According to Unica’s State of Marketing in 2011 report , 57% of marketers cited “measurement, analysis, and learning” as the biggest bottleneck they face within their organizations .
The trouble is, when most marketers hear the word ‘analytics,’ they tend to think of the metrics you’d typically associate with a web analytics tool like Google Analytics — traffic, bounce rate, unique visitors, etc. While web analytics can provide you with a wealth of insight and data into the technical performance of your website, marketers really need much richer data to understand the performance of their marketing campaigns, something that web analytics alone can’t provide.
Enter marketing analytics.
The Difference Between Web Analytics and Marketing Analytics
So what exactly makes marketing analytics different than web analytics? HubSpot CMO Mike Volpe can clarify:
“Web analytics measure things a webmaster cares about, like page load times, page views per visit, and time on site. Marketing analytics, on the other hand, measure business metrics like traffic, leads, and sales, and which events (both on and off your website) influence whether leads become customers. Marketing analytics includes data not only from your website, but also from other sources like email, social media, and even offline events. Marketing analytics are also usually people-centric, featuring the prospect, lead, or customer as the unit of focus, whereas web analytics usually regard the page view as the unit of focus in its reports.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself, boss!
With marketing analytics, marketers can understand the effectiveness of their marketing , not just the effectiveness of their website. Using marketing analytics allows marketers to identify how each of their marketing initiatives (e.g. social media vs. blogging vs. email marketing , etc.) stack up against one another, determine the true ROI of their activities, and understand how well they’re achieving their business goals. As a result of the information they can gather from their marketing analytics, marketers can also diagnose deficiencies in specific channels in their marketing mix, and make adjustments to strategies and tactics to improve their overall marketing program . Sounds pretty sweet, huh?
The Marketer’s Measurement Challenge
Yeah — pretty sweet. Yet, according to Ifbyphone’s 2011 State of Marketing Measurement report , even though 82% of marketers say their executive management expects every campaign to be measured, less than a third can effectively evaluate the ROI of each channel. Furthermore, web analytics serves as the top measurement tool for evaluating marketing campaign effectiveness. And even then, only 48% of marketers are using it!
So why is marketing analytics so underutilized by many marketers? Probably because of a lack of cohesion. The fact of the matter is, most marketers need to have a number of different marketing analytics platforms in place in order to glean all the insights they need to understand their marketing performance and, thus, make sound decisions. They gather data about their email marketing through the analytics provided by their email service provider, information about their social media performance through their social media monitoring tool, blog analytics from their blogging platform, and the list goes on. Sounds like kind of a pain, huh? No wonder marketers mainly stick to web analytics tools like Google Analytics and have trouble measuring their marketing.
Why Marketing Analytics Matter
So why exactly do marketing analytics matter? Quite simply, because web analytics just isn’t enough. The data web analytics provides just don’t cut it for marketers. In fact, this past Monday, the Web Analytics Association officially announced its name change to the Digital Analytics Association and distributed a press release explaining why the association’s former name no longer made sense in a market where customer interactions have clearly overrun the boundaries of a website.
Let’s face it: 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 marketing insight.
You can spend hours and hours slicing and dicing data in web analytics tools, comparing new vs. repeat visitors month over month over month, but when it comes down to it, you’ll never have a comprehensive understanding of how your marketing is doing. Here’s how marketing analytics makes up for that deficiency…
What Marketing Analytics Can Do For You
There are quite a few things that marketing analytics achieves where website analytics falls short. Let’s highlight three of the main differentiators:
1. Integration Across Different Marketing Channels
With marketing analytics, you have a good, solid look into the direct relationships between your marketing channels. It’s great to be able to see how each of your individual channels (e.g. social media, blogging, email marketing, SEO, etc.) are performing, but the true power of analytics comes into play when you can easily tie the effect of multiple channels’ performances together .
For instance, let’s say you did an email send to a segment of your leads. Marketing analytics can not only tell you how many people clicked through from your email to your website, but also how many of those people actually converted into leads for your business when they got there. Furthermore, you can compare the impact of that individual email send with other marketing initiatives. Did that email generate more leads than the blog post you published yesterday? What about compared to your social presence?
2. People-Centric Data on the Customer Lifecycle
As you learned earlier, a key differentiator between web analytics and marketing analytics is that the latter uses the person — not the page view — as the focal point . This enables you to track how your individual prospects and leads are interacting with your various marketing initiatives and channels over time. How did an individual lead first come to find your website? In search? Via Facebook? From direct traffic? Is that lead an active part of your email subscriber base, often clicking and converting on marketing offers presented via email? Do they read your blog? Marketing analytics can tell you all of this and more, providing you with extremely valuable lead intelligence that can be applied to such marketing initiatives as lead nurturing .
In addition, taking a look at all of this information in aggregate can help you understand trends among your prospects and leads and which marketing activities are valuable at different stages in the sales cycle. Perhaps you find that many customers’ last point of conversion was on a certain marketing offer(s). Having this data makes it possible to implement an effective lead management process, enabling you to score and prioritize your leads and identify which activities contribute to a marketing qualified lead for your business.
3. Closed-Loop Data
Perhaps the sexiest function of marketing analytics is its ability to tie marketing activities to sales. Sure, your blog may be effective in generating leads, but are those leads actually turning into customers and making your business money? Closed-loop marketing analyticscan tell you. The only dependency here is that your marketing analytics system be hooked up with your customer relationship management (CRM) platform such as Salesforce.com, SugarCRM, etc.
Having this closed-loop data can help you determine whether your individual marketing initiatives are actually contributing to the bottom line. Through it, you can determine which channels are most critical for driving sales. Perhaps you find that your blog is your most effective channel for generating customers, or conversely, you find that social media is really only powerful as an engagement mechanism, not a source of sales.
What You Can Do With Marketing Analytics
All of the insights, information, and data you can gather from a marketing analytics tool is really only useful if you do something with it. The true value of analytics isn’t just to prove to your boss that all the marketing activities you’re doing are worth the time and money; it’s also to help you improve and optimize your marketing performance — on both an individual channel-by-channel basis as well as an overall, cross-channel machine.
We’ve touched on some of the things you can do with your analytics above, but we’ve really only scraped the surface of how powerful analytics can be when put to good use. To be honest, it’s fodder for a completely separate blog post, and we cover a lot of it in our article about different ways to make your marketing analytics actionable .
The important thing to realize here is, if you’re relying solely on web analytics, you’re missing out on a lot of powerful data that can help inform your marketing strategy. When evaluating analytics tools for your business, whether you’re evaluating HubSpot’s marketing analytics tools (which can do all of the above in one integrated platform) or other platforms, be sure you’re looking for evidence of marketing analytics , not just website analytics. Here’s a great guide to follow so you can be sure you’re asking the right questions.
How are you faring in terms of marketing measurement? Are your analytics sophisticated enough to effectively measure your marketing performance?
I give it a 5/5.