When it comes to business intelligence and analytics, one size definitely does not fit all. In the same way you wouldn’t invest thousands of dollars in a one-size-fits-all suit, it probably wouldn’t be wise invest millions in an analytics solution that promises to be everything to everyone.
Many business intelligence (BI) tools claim to have the ability to deliver insights for everyone in the organization: Finance, IT, Sales, Operations and beyond. While nice in theory, CMOs are calling BS. BI tools often require heavy customization to reach any real insights, dedicated teams to oversee operations, and even still… CMOs find themselves coming up short.
Marketing needs its own analytics.
All About Business Intelligence: The Current Landscape
BI is a broad category of applications designed to transform raw data into meaningful information. BI technologies are capable of processing large amounts of unstructured data to help identify, develop and otherwise create new strategic opportunities. BI can be used to support a wide range of business decisions, and is most often used cross-departmentally by enterprises to gauge general business health.
Due to the IT-heavy nature of most traditional BI platforms (SAP, IBM, SAS, Microsoft, Oracle, etc.), companies generally hire dedicated IT employees and data analysts to oversee BI operations, modeling, and reporting.
Today, a new school of BI tools (Domo, GoodData, Salesforce Wave Analytics Cloud, etc.) has emerged—characterized by ease of use and elegant UIs that are simple enough for most business users to operate. While it may be possible for marketers to derive function-specific insights with BI, many require heavy customization and still fall short when it comes to answering the questions that matter most to marketers.
3 Reasons Why B2B Marketing Needs Its Own Analytics
B2B marketing is a unique beast and, as a result, requires its own set of tools to fully understand marketing’s impact on revenue. The following are three things to lookout for when evaluating a B2B marketing analytics solution:
- Marketing produces more, complex data than any other function.
Marketers are inundated with endless streams of information and are struggling to make sense of the incredible volume and velocity of data at their fingertips. Making matters worse, existing marketing tools are designed to produce more data, rather than to help make smarter, faster, and more confident decisions from existing data sources. Most business intelligence and analytics tools are simply not built to handle the sheer volume of marketing data being pumped into them. BI projects have multiple constituents—CEO, CFO, CIO, VP Sales, CMO—but guess who is generally the last priority? You guessed it, the CMO… the function with the most complex needs. B2B leaders should seek out analytics solutions that are marketing-focused from the start, built with marketer’s needs in mind, and able to elegantly handle the volume and velocity of marketing data produced.
- The B2B buyers’ journey requires attribution excellence.
Sales reps deal primarily with a single buyer, but marketing owns all of the contacts along the buyers’ journey that contribute to a sale. A primary buyer has a team of influencers—superiors, finance, purchasing, etc.—that all carry the power to make or break a deal. These influencers interact with a wide range of touch points—website, social, advertising, events, etc.—and do so long before and after a deal is closed. All of these touch points are tracked and, as a result, marketers have a lot of data on their hands. Because marketing is dealing with so many people across countless touch points, traditional BI tools are simply not enough. Marketers need solutions that help them understand campaign influence in complex, multi-touch scenarios at every stage of the funnel to answer questions like: Which campaigns are sourcing the most opportunities? How many campaign touches does it take to win a deal? How do my marketing channels contribute to pipeline and revenue?
- Marketers must be able to predict.
Unfortunately, most CMOs spend far too much time trying to make sense of the past, when they should be doing the thing that they’re most uniquely positioned to do: planning for the future. While salespeople are often most concerned with meeting monthly or quarterly quotas, marketers must focus on longer-term, strategic projects that span multiple quarters or even years. While a BI solution may be able to tell marketers something about the past, without extreme customization, you won’t find one that can help your accurately forecast marketing-generated revenue in the future. Based on historical performance, machine-learning, and intelligent forecasting, predictive analytics solutions can prescribe how investments will most likely translate to sales. With these insights, marketers can identify revenue levers (e.g. “What will happen if we change X and when?”), and focus on action, initiating the activities that drive towards organizational objectives and revenue.
The fact is, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all analytics solution for B2B marketers. How can you navigate this sea of new technology to determine which solution is the best fit for you? If you’re curious to learn more about the current “analytics cloud” landscape, and the best options for B2B marketers, check out our new guide and learn how to finally connect the dots between marketing and revenue.