Definition of Marketing Analytics & How Data Can Help Your Team

My definition of marketing analytics is simple:

Using data to support your decisions, campaigns, and actions to generate a positive ROI on your resources.

Note that usage of the word “support”. It’s become popular to say that you want to be data-driven but I think that is the wrong approach.  I have talked briefly as to why companies shouldn’t build “data-driven cultures” and why they should strive for something else.

Let’s get back to how your team can use marketing analytics to validate assumptions, discover new marketing channels, improve your communication with your customers, and reduce your day to day frustration with your work.

Confirming the Importance Of Marketing Analytics

The role of marketing analytics is deeply ingrained in how teams operate today. Even if you didn’t consciously think about the role of data, you will be surrounded by it. It’s inside every software tool like your email providers, your CRM, or even your website hosting platform.

Teams can instantly see the performance of their marketing campaigns, how users are engaging with their website, and how their KPIs are trending over time. Despite this, I want to spend a few minutes talking about the basics of marketing analytics. You might discover a new idea to get more value out of your data.

There are 4 reasons why teams should continually invest in their marketing analytics:

1. Validate assumptions and debug issues

Every new campaign you launch is an assumption that needs to be tested. You can get the necessary feedback from your data and make any adjustments. 

There are also cases where a new campaign isn’t quite working. Instead of throwing everything away, these campaigns might just need 1-2 tweaks to get them pointed in the right direction. You can think of this process as debugging and marketing analytics plays a critical role in it.

2. Discovery profitable and consistent growth channels

Marketing is about growth. This means that you need to constantly find new ways to acquire customers whether in the form of new channels or improving your current ones. Your data will be full of clues to potential new channels that could be worth exploring. 

For example, you might see an increase in traffic from industry blogs you weren’t expecting or you might start seeing traffic from organic keywords that you never thought of targeting.

Google Analytics Attribution Report

3. Better communication with customers

We are slowly moving away from the days of the “spam everyone and hope they respond” strategy. It’s much easier nowadays to communicate with customers in a way that feels personal and relevant. We can design messages based on a user’s purchase history, demographics, and even their preferences.

4. Reduce frustration and uncertainty

Finally, marketing analytics can reduce your team’s frustration and lack of certainty. These two emotions can persist in teams for years, casting doubt on everything they do. 

Instead of hoping that something works, you can feel certain that you will have the data to know exactly how something performed and how to tweak it for success. It’s not just about showing success but explaining why something failed.

Practical Marketing Analytics Examples

Let’s now look at 4 use cases where your team could use marketing analytics.

Use Case #1: Optimize user acquisition costs (CAC, LTV, CPA)

Managing costs is one of the most important actions a marketing team needs to manage. You can’t just acquire users at any cost for a significant period of time. Venture-backed startups might get around this rule in the short-term but even they are eventually subjected to basic economic laws.

Use Case #2: Message customers with the right message

As covered in the previous section, marketing analytics lets us message our customers with the right message at the right time. For example, we might want to nurture some customers with educational information while drive other customers towards a purchase. 

Use Case #3: Write better content

Content has become an important currency for any marketing team. From long-form content like blog posts and ebooks to shorter form content like Instagram captions and Tweets. Being able to test and measure the impact of your content is the equivalent of having a real-time editor on your shoulder.

Use Case #4: Support customer research

Finally, marketing analytics will support your customer research efforts. While we are focused primarily on quantitative data, qualitative research benefits from a consistent collection of hard numbers. You can see the numbers behind the stories in your surveys.

Types Of Marketing Analytics

I like to organize the world of marketing analytics into 4 distinct categories. Your list might be longer or shorter but here’s mine.


Being able to attribute the performance of your marketing dollars is so important that it deserves its own category. Everything to do with marketing performance in dollars, CAC, LTV, and others will be in this category.

2. User Engagement

User engagement includes all the actions that users take with your company. This includes visiting your website, downloading materials, attending live events, and watching educational videos.

3. Qualitative

Numbers are great but they are only half the story. The other half comes from qualitative sources such as surveys, video recordings, and heatmaps.

Hotjar Heatmaps

4. Communication

Once we know what customers want, we need to tell them. We’ll do this mostly through email but you can expand to SMS, push notifications, in-app notifications, and in-person events.

Remember the definition of marketing analytics from the beginning of this post:

Using data to support your decisions, campaigns, and actions to generate a positive ROI on your resources.

Everything you do is geared towards this north start. ROI is the end goal but the means will come in the form of different decisions and compromises.

One more thing before you go! Do you know how to get more insights out of your data? 

All companies are sitting on a goldmine of data that they haven't fully explored. It's not about technology or capturing more data. The key is to learn how to make the most of your current data and convert it into actionable insights. This is the main idea behind my first book, The Data Miage: Why Companies Fail to Actually Use Their Data

I'm excited to announce the release of the book through all major retailers. If you're interested, you can download the first chapter for free using the form below. You'll learn what the best data-driven companies do differently and how to make sure you're playing the right data game.