Who is afraid of analytics? I am not…anymore

I studied German at university for both my undergrad and graduate degrees.  Numbers and data were not exactly my strong suit.  In fact, I was a bit of a “numberphobe” or “arithmophobe” for many years.    arithmophobia1I am willing to bet many of my fellow marketeers are also not thrilled with having to become more of a scientist vs. artist when it comes to managing marketing activities.  Many marketers have never developed (and frankly never been asked to) develop the analytic skills required to be successful in today’s data driven marketing world.

Well guess what folks?  If you are a marketer and have not started developing analytic skills yet…you are behind the curve and may find yourself left in the dust. Now, with that said, if this German major can “get it”, I am pretty convinced anyone can!  Here is how:

  1. Get knowledgeable! Learn about the metrics and KPIs marketers should focus on and why they are important.  This is Spend time learning from those who have come before you vAnalytics Knowledgeersus inventing your own.  B2B demand marketers can turn to Sirius Decisions for a strong and simple cookbook to measure marketing effectiveness.  Their demand waterfall gives everything a demand marketer needs to know.   Additional ideas on the right measurements are laid out in The Performance Manager.   This is probably one of the most important areas I learned about:  Which metrics to choose and why.  As I did not have a background in marketing,  I spent the majority of my efforts here.
  2. Sell the metrics and KPIs to sales and marketing leaders:kpi I can not emphasize enough how important it is to gain agreement on the joint marketing and sales metrics.  Mark Emond, from Demand Spring emphasizes this in his blog posts and his engagement with customers. Defining the word “lead” and agreeing on how many marketing will deliver to sales is likely to be a huge challenge.  It is critical to select metrics which your actions can influence and will have measurable impact on business performance (e.g. # of net new leads, Average deal size, average sales cycle etc.)  These will be the easiest to sell to your execs.
  3. Put the spreadsheet down, back away slowly and no one gets injured:  Spreadsheets are nice and familiar to most people but they lead to conflict and ultimately waste more time than it is worth.  With agreed upon metrics and KPIs, it is time to explore a single version of the truth versus everyone’s OWN version of the truth.  Business Intelligencedata discoverypredictive analytics and visualization offerings have become easier and easier to use over the past several years.  Many offer the flexibility of spreadsheets (heck, some even offer a spreadsheet like interface!) while also providing one, single version of the truth.  (No more debating which version of the spreadsheet based report is “correct”).  The other thing to consider when selecting a tool to support your needs:  ensure that you select a tool that is intuitive and is not going to take a PhD to learn!  @Ventanaresearch describes the shortcomings of spreadsheets in this white paper.
  4. Invest in education and training:  Invest in yourself and/or your employees. Importantly learn how to bring analytics into your team with the maximum positive impact.  There are many educational resources out there for you and your team to get up to speed.   Connect and network with others who use analytics in their organization to learn about how they have had success.

Overall needed to become more analytical can be daunting, especially for those who may not have an analytics background.  With that said, there are many resources available to you.  If a German major can lead marketing analytics initiatives, can it really be that complicated or hard to do?

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