Many think that analytics is restricted to the internet and deals with computer programming or database management. Some equate analytics with business metrics. So what exactly is analytics? It’s using web analytics, database management, not to mention primary quantitative research, media analysis, predictive analytics, social listening, and linguistics analysis, to draw conclusions about information.
Analytics is not necessarily about more data; it’s about a deeper dive into data. Here’s my favorite definition, a quote from “Competing on Analytics,” by Thomas H. Davenport and Jeanne G. Harris: “Data analytics is the extensive use of data, statistical and quantitative analysis, explanatory and predictive models, and fact-based management to drive decisions and actions.”
So where is all the data coming from anyway? Simply put, everywhere.
Think about your everyday life. When you go to the grocery store and swipe your banking rewards card, your data is being collected. The businesses already know who you are – your gender, age, geographic location, and consumer preferences. In fact, each time you shop, your behavioral data is being collected. Unique coupons are printed just for you, based on your specific shopping habits. Marketers use predictive modeling to forecast your future shopping behavior.
When you’re online, data about your online behavior is collected. The sites you visit, the ads you click on, the products you search for – all of these internet interactions reveal details about you to curious companies. Think about the last time you performed a Google search to help plan your next family vacation. Even after your search was complete, for the next couple of weeks you were probably bombarded by pop-up ads about discounted hotels, special fares for flights, and other vacation deals. Those ads were all targeted based on specific online behavior using analytics. Companies also analyze data to calculate our credit scores and credit card usage, as well as our TV channel viewing habits.
So what do analysts do? We program, collect, distribute, centralize, interpret, and analyze data from various sources, including Google Analytics, custom-built databases, and proprietary client files. Then we interpret the data to make it easy to understand, even for a non-analytical audience. Based on the findings, we make recommendations to our clients, which may include optimizing a website, shifting media dollars, selecting the right markets to reach their target audience and increase awareness and usage of their brand and services. We influence many other major business decisions and marketing communications decisions, all to help improve the measurable perceptions of a client’s brand with customers.
So at the end of the day, what we really do is save our clients valuable dollars. And that’s always worth a second look.