The age-old business advice, “It’s all about the numbers,” has never been more true in this digital age. Brands and marketers have access to data telling a more holistic story of their customers than businessmen and women could have ever hoped to achieve just twenty years ago.

With these customer stories, your business won’t just understand your customers and clients better, but you can also realign your company mission, streamline your budget, and redirect product development. Today, being competitive means pulling tangible ideas from hard numbers.

This is marketing in the digital age. And it is almost too good to be true for the most obsessed data analysts.

What Do the Marketing Metrics Mean?

If understanding marketing metrics requires highly-trained data analysts, how can business decision-makers hope to make sense of “the numbers”? The answer is that marketing metrics are opportunities that allow for simplified decision-making.

Thanks to digital tools and analytics software, some of the more tedious and complex data gathering and organizing is now automated. The difficulty for many businesses is knowing what to look for and feeling comfortable with the new tools.

Marketing Analytics as Quantitative Data

Most people understand that analytics is often about “how many x’s and y’s” exist within data sets. Quantitative metrics are a key part of marketing analytics. 

What’s great about quantitative data is that an analyst or spreadsheet can make clear calculations, such as sums, products, averages, ranges, and more. These metrics are the literal “numbers” and are relatively immutable. Some of the more common marketing metrics in this category include (but are not limited to):

  • Page views
  • Impressions
  • Clicks (and Click-through rates)
  • Conversions
  • Sales
  • Revenue

But not every critical piece of data follows a quantitative model. Marketers need to know the quality or degree of an action. Qualitative data provides that insight.

Marketing Analytics as Qualitative Data

With qualitative marketing metrics, brands can determine to what extent or how significant a particular behavior is. These data sets include durations, sliding scales, or nuanced responses to which no multiple choice answer applies.

In most cases, gathering and organizing qualitative information requires marketers to take additional steps, such as reading customer reviews or interpreting feedback. Businesses can also assign values to non-value answers and then use those values to treat essential qualitative data quantitatively.

Because gathering and organizing qualitative information is not as straightforward as is quantitative data, many businesses avoid qualitative insights. However, some of the most valuable customer information arrives in qualitative form.

Point-of-Sale (POS) Data

POS information is some of the most important and overlooked customer data that nearly every business has access to. Additionally, brands that take the extra step during checkout to gather customer information already have as much information as they need to revolutionize their marketing efforts.

A point of sale tells your company what a customer bought, how often they’ve bought, how much they bought, when they bought, and more. POS data allows you to infer things about your customers that – once you examine “the numbers” – are obvious. From these inferences, you come to understand your customers in a more intimate way.

Analytics Software

Since most companies don’t have the budget to hire an analytics team, the next best solution is analytics software. But not every analytics platform is created equal. And of the leading platforms, only a few will be a good fit for your business.

What you seek in analytics software is a digital tool that can gather, sort, combine, and interpret the data. Once the platform completes these steps, you can create views or reports that tell a story about your customers.

Taken one step further, an ideal platform will integrate seamlessly with your POS, website, app, and more. This integration ensures that you are generating the most accurate data in real time. 

Free open-source tools like Google Analytics require a steep learning curve and setup best performed with the help of a web developer. Analytics software that is user-friendly and does the complicated tasks for you is often more expensive and may overlook critical nuances in your customers. Finding the right analytics tool is a big decision. And once you’ve made it, you’re bound to see with a new set of eyes that transforms the way you attract and retain customers.

Marketing Automation

After gathering and understanding the data, marketers take to refining their branding, advertising, and sales efforts. Doing this well means venturing into new digital spaces, testing various techniques, and managing higher lead flow.

Marketing automation tools deliver this next stage of modern marketing. Automation involves doing more with less, smoothing out the sales process, and personalizing marketing efforts to audience segments.

Needless to say, automation is only so effective as your marketing analytics. What you know about your customers determines how powerful your automation will be. If you create sequences and program turnkey solutions to problems that your customers don’t have, you’ll only annoy customers.

But if you know what your customers need and where your sales process is constrained, marketing automation is the “secret sauce” to dynamic UX design.

Security and Privacy

The “elephant in the room” in marketing analytics is customer privacy. Whereas cybersecurity concerns – such as hackers stealing personal information – focus on security breaches, consumer privacy concerns pertain to how companies could be mismanaging the data.

For example, Target received negative publicity after they used customer data to deduce that a customer was pregnant and began marketing pregnancy products to her before she even had a chance to tell the father. This example represents how brands can use marketing data to be intrusive and alienate customers in the process.

On the other hand, customers and clients expect personalization. And anything less leads those customers to switch providers. At first glance, this conundrum seems like a lose-lose for companies with the muscle to read deeply into the lives of customers and provide a white glove experience.

But a middle ground exists. Balancing personalization with privacy means that businesses must exercise transparency and always achieve consent from customers before gathering and using their data. Further, using marketing metrics to understand buyer behavior is always safer than venturing into the customer’s personal life on issues like religion, politics, sexual orientation, etc.

In Conclusion: Measuring Digital Marketing Success

Upon developing a process for organizing and understanding customer data, businesses can make informed decisions about how to invest marketing dollars. Even testing new marketing techniques is less risky, because decision-makers are taking careful risks rather than gambling with their marketing budget.

Creating a foundation on “the numbers” means that your company can measure success. Key performance indicators (KPIs) are no longer ambiguous restatements of your marketing objectives. Rather, your KPIs are hard numbers tracking the customer journey from brand awareness to point-of-sale and beyond.

Lastly, marketing in the digital age means that you increase your chances of retaining customers, further lowering your cost per customer and ad spend. Buyer behavior informs you about what your customers need next and how your brand can empower them in those next steps.

Marketing in the digital age means forming concrete ideas from hard numbers. Using the right tools, your business can choose to be competitive and create the ideal customer experience.