We are creating more data than ever. Online shopping, “likes” on Facebook, photos on Instagram. You get the picture. With all this information coming in, you need a powerful tool that allows you to capture, organize, and analyze as the data as it arrives. For those of you who didn’t click on the link, I’m talking about analytics.

It isn’t new, but analytics is becoming more popular in organizations as the technology improves. The department where it’s playing the biggest role is somewhere it’s already comfortable–your marketing department. Traditionally this team has always been data-oriented; however, new improvements in the technology are shaking things up a bit.

Here are a few key highlights from the recent iGuide from SAP, How Analytics Is Changing the Game of Marketing.

What’s changed?

Marketing used to be the loudest champion of the brand, responsible for finding ways to broadcast the company message to the world and hoping it would fall into the lap of the target audience. Now, with today’s informed consumers, marketing must act as an inbound traffic manager.

They must sort through what’s being said in unstructured social messages; unorganized customer data spread all over the organization, and somehow try to share product information at the same time.

Now if I’m already losing you, don’t bounce yet. Yes, I know you are aware analytics is trendy and everybody wants a dashboard, but what you don’t realize is how it can actually help you figure out what your customers are saying about you and your brand. None of which was possible before, and still isn’t, unless you have the right analytics tools.

Chapter 1: So What Is Analytics?

Everybody thinks they know, but few have any idea how to define it, let alone manage it. The biggest issue with analytics is the serious lack of trained data scientists. The second issue is the lack of common ground on what it is or how to deploy the technology.

To tackle issue one, check out (full disclosure) my recent post on how to find and develop talent for big data analytics.

Now for issue two. In order to successfully deploy analytics for marketing, you need to have a well-balanced set of five things: people (see point one), tools, processes, governance, and metrics. All of these parts need to agree on how they will coexist before you start.

Chapter 2: How Analytics Are Changing Marketing

As I mentioned earlier, analytics should feel right at home in your marketing department. These teams are used to finding insights from a pile of data. But if they’re so used to it, how come it’s such a big deal now?

Analytics are making such an impact now because of new data sources. Things like cookies and device IDs, social media, and pre-existing customer data allows marketers to track behaviors, sentiment, and in turn, create richer profiles. These sources are observational, allowing marketers to collect data over an extended period of time and monitor long-term trends and the customer life-cycle.

The tools B2B marketers are using are modeled after B2C tools. B2C tools tend to heavily involve the consumer, rather than generating leads. They also encourage marketers to build a long-term relationship to keep the customer engaged even after the sale closes. Think about your favorite clothing store. It’s probably overpriced, but you have a relationship with the brand so you continue to choose them over another option.

Not only has analytics brought about a transformation in the tools we use as marketers, but also determined new metrics to meet. Tracking direct campaigns are no longer a super-priority; we must measure value created. We can create accurate and attainable metrics because of our understanding of the customer life cycle, whereas before it was only understood in segments of a campaign.

Chapter 3: The Role of Analytics in the Changing Role of Marketers

Say goodbye to the days of being the loudest department of the business. No longer are marketers screaming our outbound messages from the roof tops, we are becoming a content business.

The below diagram accurately depicts the shift marketers are currently experiencing.

With multi-channel outreach, things like Google+ hangouts, and all the data on our customers from the tracking, there are new ways to share your message and engage your audience.

Analytics merged with marketing means context selling. Marketers are now enabled to create an end-to-end offer process where a customer can walk into a store and when they check out, have coupons already pushed to their mobile device just through real-time visibility to the customer’s previously-tracked behaviors and location.

Need an example? It’s set in “the near future”, but here’s one (for everyone in a hurry, fast forward to 4 minutes and watch from there).

It’s exciting, but at the same time, astounding how far we can go to effectively target the consumer. So how do you think analytics is changing marketing departments everywhere? Do you like where the trend is going or are you closing this article and clearing all your cookies?

For more information on how marketers are making business decisions through the data, figuring out which of the two proposed life cycles works for you, or to read the fourth chapter of the iGuide, “How Data Is Changing Analytics”, click here. Happy reading!

This post originally appeared on the Customer Edge site.