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In any business, knowledge is power. And to have power, you need data – data to track performance, to identify new opportunities, to determine what’s working and what’s not so you know how to best allocate your efforts and to understand how changes in efforts impact key metrics – there’s no getting around it.

Today’s marketers need data to make the best decisions and prove their value. Unfortunately, in some organizations, data is either too difficult to get to, not tracked correctly, or an afterthought. And data may not be as sexy as campaigns or creating new content or as useful on its own. But buried deep within some marketing departments is a wealth of information just waiting to be unlocked. And the real key to unlocking the value of your data is analytics.

Data vs. Analytics

But wait, aren’t data and analytics the same, or at least very similar?

Actually, data and analytics are two separate things that work better together. Data is the actual details you collect in their raw form, for example – number of clicks and number of leads. Analytics on the other hand, sit on top of that data to help you understand how it all comes together, for example – by surfacing trends within the data and overlaying different points to allow for analysis and comparison.

So the bottom line is, unless you’re a highly skilled data scientist, raw data isn’t very pretty. In order to gain value from data, you need to understand the story it’s telling and be able to glean insights and trends from it. And most importantly, you need to be able to put those insights into action. When all those pieces come together, you can then become a truly data-driven marketer, making well-informed decisions and acting purposefully based on data-backed intelligence.

How Analytics Can Help You Become a Data-Driven Marketer

With data-driven marketing, marketers can change the conversation at the executive table. Data and analytics give them the ability to analyze and share actionable insights, confirming their value as a business partner. Marketers can share concrete information with executives on what’s working, what’s not and how much it costs for the results achieved. So when it comes to being a valued data-driven marketer, analytics make all the difference by allowing you to:

  • Keep a pulse on what’s happening at all times. With a quick, easy-to-understand snapshot, accessible at any time, analytics always tell you just how you stack up.
  • Track key performance metrics. Easily determine how you’re tracking against goals and other key performance metrics. Understanding these ebbs and flows over time identify areas of strength and weakness to quantify your success.
  • Identify opportunities and find new trends. Pinpoint areas you’re doing particularly well, and capitalize on those areas to turn small successes into even bigger ones.
  • Collaborate across teams. An analytics dashboard should help you better understand how certain inputs from one team or channel affects output for another. This understanding helps improve collaboration and get a more complete picture of what’s happening.
  • Better allocate time. Identify what’s working, what’s not (and why it’s not) and where the biggest opportunities lie much faster and easier with analytics. This freed up time allows you to focus your efforts on areas that will drive the biggest results.
  • Understand your business like never before. Finally, analytics can help you truly understand the levers you need to pull to make things happen and help you get to know how your audience reacts to certain things. In turn, this setup should give you a deeper insight into your business and put you in a strong position to report to your executives about what’s happening and why.

4 Steps to Unlocking the Power of Analytics

At this point, it should be a no-brainer that analytics are beyond valuable. But how do you actually unlock the power of analytics and get all that data you’ve been collecting to work in your favor? It starts with these four steps:

  • Prioritize data quality: If your data is off, your insights will be too, creating a domino effect of poor decisions and actions. Since the insights you get from your analytics are only as good as the data in which they’re based, using quality data should be a priority.
  • Pay attention to your data sources: Develop a clear strategy for what data you’ll track and the systems from which it will come. Once you decide which metrics you’ll track, take the time to identify the best places from which to pull those numbers so that you put the highest quality data into the system.
  • Clearly outline your metrics and goals, then start obsessing over them: Define what exactly you want your analytics to tell you and what you hope to get out of them. Once you have these answers in place, you can use analytics to help you stay true to your path and reach goals.
  • Focus on what’s actionable: Yes, analytics are powerful. However, all the knowledge they can provide you won’t do any good if you can’t do anything with what you learn. Focus on not only gathering insights via data analytics, but also putting those insights to work by taking action based on what the data tells you.

Don’t Let Data Overwhelm You

The amount of data available today is overwhelming to say the least. But in order to succeed in today’s marketing world, you need to use that data to your advantage. Since you can’t just ignore data, you need to find a way to understand and learn from it without hitting information overload. The answer is analytics. And when you have the right type of analytics in place, you’ll not only avoid information overload but you’ll be able to use data to act more strategically, improve productivity and even boost creativity. The moral of it all is this – using analytics is good as gold. It will buy you credibility and prove marketing’s value.