Businesses small and large are working overtime to incorporate analytics into virtually every part of their operations. From manufacturing to logistics to marketing, organizations that skillfully apply the power of analytics are reaping the competitive benefits – and those that haven’t are trying to catch up.

Applying analytics to marketing efforts in particular can be highly beneficial and offer strong ROI. However, the process of doing this effectively can take some know-how and experimentation.

One way data analysis can help your marketing performance is by informing your ideal target audience. Many more of our campaigns than we sometimes care to admit are built on assumptions, conventional wisdom, or old ways of doing things.

Sometimes they work. Sometimes they don’t.

What if there was a tool you could employ to improve, in some cases drastically, the results of your marketing efforts and your understanding of your target audience? That’s what strategic marketing analytics could accomplish for your organization.

How Analytics Can Aid the Marketing Process

Products and sales models are designed with certain customers in mind. The better a business understands its ideal customer, the more successful and tailored its marketing efforts will be. The process of correctly identifying and communicating with that target audience is arguably the most fundamental purpose of marketing. Without accomplishing this effectively, a business that has a fantastic process or product will still flounder and may ultimately fail.

This makes correctly identifying your target audience an imperative skill for every business. Marketing efforts that are calibrated to reach the demographic (or set of demographics) most likely to engage with the product will always outperform campaigns that might have bigger budgets or more manpower but lack a clear understanding of their target market.

It is a marketing myth that a target market is determined once and then remains static or unexamined for long periods of time. In reality, a strong marketing program should constantly reevaluate its target market(s) for optimum fit and messaging effectiveness.

One important tool for assessing target audience and messaging clarity is data analytics. By incorporating data collection and assessment into your marketing efforts, your business can keep its marketing campaigns razor-focused and effective.

The Mechanics of Incorporating Data Capture and Analysis Into Your Marketing Strategy

Data analysis is often viewed as a highly technical undertaking, only to be attempted by people with PhDs or expert excel skills. However, while professionals in the business analysis field are highly qualified individuals with technical and analytic aptitudes that can be quite specialized, incorporating analysis into your business can actually be straightforward and highly approachable.

A huge part of using analytics effectively is applying it to the things that will actually move the needle for your company or business. Begin by identifying the questions you need answered.

Are you struggling with conversions? Finding untapped market channels? Lowering product returns or subscription cancellation rates? Before launching an analytics campaign, identify the areas of insight or understanding that will most benefit your business.

After you’ve identified places in your marketing process where you could benefit from better intelligence, it is much easier to work backward and identify the pieces of information you’ll need to collect and analyze in order to make that happen.

The last piece of the puzzle for instituting effective analytics in your marketing process is to create a process for implementing insights. If you don’t apply what you’ve learned or allow those lessons to shape your work or processes, conducting analytics is a waste of time and resources. Make sure you see the process through from start to finish and reap the benefit of conducting analytics campaigns.

Making It Happen: Analytics Implementation in Your Organization

There are a number of ways to incorporate analytics into your marketing efforts. Depending on the size of your operation, you can take one of several routes to harness the power of analytics and optimize your marketing efforts:

Utilize a Freeware Analytics Product to Get Your Analytics Up and Running

For many cases, a free software option like Google analytics or the analytics tools available to business accounts on social media platforms can be more than enough to start providing actionable insights. Many companies can create large amounts of value from free software analytics products. Some never need to take on paid tools.

Look Into Software Services and Packages

If your needs exceed what you can accomplish with a freeware offering or adding an analysis component to an existing job description within your team, contracting analytics services can be a good middle-tier option.

This route can take advantage of external expertise and save time implementing a solution. This can be an economic choice when your analytics needs aren’t robust or involved enough to hire a full-time employee to manage the program.

Hire a Business Analyst to Join Your Team

If you have the budget and volume, sometimes hiring an analyst to join your team can be the most efficient way to quickly implement a data analytics program and maintain it. Contracting out full analytics programs to firms or agencies can be less cost-effective and afford your business the benefit of continuity by having someone on staff that is responsible for the process over the long term.

Whatever your marketing plan involves, applying analytics can enhance its effectiveness and performance. Identifying your target market and continually honing your understanding of your consumer audience can be made much easier by implementing data collection and analysis.