Below is part 2 of our 6-part series aimed at helping you understand key trends that Small and Midsized Businesses tend to consider investing in as they aim to scale their business. To read part 1 of this series click here.
Data everywhere! Harness it and drive towards success.
Every business has more data at its disposal than they initially realize. Business Intelligence (BI) and Marketing Analytics are two related but distinct fields that are concerned with using data and the analysis of that data to improve business decision-making and thereby drive business value.
Business Intelligence (BI)
BI is a set of tools and techniques used to collect, integrate, analyze, and present business data to help business decision-makers make better-informed decisions. BI provides an organization with a comprehensive and real-time view of its operations, allowing decision-makers to make better decisions based on the data at hand. BI tools can be used to analyze sales data, financial data, customer data, and any other type of data relevant to the business. It wasn’t long ago that only large organizations with significant investments could afford or warrant the need to implement BI platforms. Today, a wide range of BI solutions exist that are affordable and designed to serve small to medium-sized businesses.
The following are examples of BI platforms that offer really powerful capabilities. Our goal here is not to recommend a particular vendor or technology solution. Our aim is to highlight a broad spectrum of platforms that you may want to consider when thinking about your own BI needs.
Designed to be an easy-to-configure, all-in-one solution for businesses to manage sales and customer data. Capable of tracking time, projects, finances, and other KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).
Designed to be a robust, highly configurable, all-in-one platform for all things BI with a primary driver that it is built by Microsoft. Capable of tracking just about any type of data set and expanding dimensions from macro to micro analysis.
Designed to be highly visual and places emphasis for the user to interact with the UI for deeper analysis to answer business needs in real-time. Designed for more complex use cases or for SMBs that anticipate a lot of data analysis or to expand into the enterprise status down the road.
As a general practice BI platforms aim to be the tool that you can drop into your organization, hook it up to a wide range of data sources or other platforms, and then set up rules sets and logic where data is defined and brought into the platform to demonstrate connections that were not easily discernable before. One aspect is to show with your existing data insights you could not get to previously or to demonstrate patterns and correlations that would be hard to do otherwise.
Here is an example for illustration, imagine the following:
- Gather data from your website and merge it with past sales data (sales conducted online) – then map out which geographical areas of your population engaged in a sales transaction vs. not making a sale
- What patterns emerge?
- Is a particular segment of your user base more likely to make a sale because of the price of your products or is it attributed to other factors?
- Does your sales activity factor into repeat sales or success in closing a sale?
- How do your marketing strategies play into generating leads or nurturing leads to close sooner?
- What seasonal or social events play a role in your sales metrics?
- What happens if you fold in data from other sources?
- Does your business conduct sales through partner channels?
- Do you have brick-and-mortar locations – what does POS (Point of Sale) do when you merge it into the data sets above?
- What patterns emerge?
If set up properly you can have a BI platform highlight or roll-up large amounts of information into actionable insight. With the example above you may be able to find out that if individuals live within a certain amount of distance from a brick-and-mortar location they are more inclined to go to the store and make a purchase if they receive a coupon incentive. You may find patterns where offering a time-bound offer around a holiday or with free shipping may encourage large sales vs. when such offers are not made. While the example provided is a sales and marketing-related BI that can be used for any data set in just about any context.
Marketing Analytics, on the other hand, is a field focused specifically on the use of data and analytics to improve marketing effectiveness. It involves the use of data and analytics tools to measure and optimize marketing performance across all marketing channels, including digital, social media, traditional advertising, and more. Marketing Analytics can help businesses gain insights into their customers’ behavior, preferences, and needs, and use this information to optimize their marketing strategies, campaigns, and tactics.
The following are examples of Marketing Analytics platforms that offer really powerful capabilities. Our goal here is not to recommend a particular vendor or technology solution, our aim is to highlight a broad spectrum of platforms that you may want to consider when thinking about your own Marketing Analytics needs.
Boasts 500+ sources to build a holistic marketing analytics dashboard that helps businesses drive their marketing strategy while evaluating the performance of their campaigns.
Designed to help businesses optimize a wide spectrum of their marketing strategies from their SEO (Search Engine Optimization) efforts to Social Media and Market Research.
Designed to be one of the most complete Marketing Analytics solutions on the market it boasts an extensive array of functionality and data points aggregation.
Marketing Analytics platforms tend to fall into a few areas of discipline (these are listed from more straightforward to more advanced concepts):
- What can you measure online and provide trends, patterns, and insights
- What can you measure online and correlate it with your back-office data and provide trends, patterns, and insights
- What can you measure from online, back-office and then introduce AI (Artificial Intelligence) modeling to offer in-flight offers that move trends based on trends, patterns, and insights
The more advanced concepts require an investment in additional Marketing Automation and Marketing Technology solutions but they are typically driven by a Marketing Analytics engine in the middle of it somewhere. Also do note that a lot of what we have highlighted here tends to demonstrate data capture and tracking, and in relation to online data this is true because most businesses have some form or presence online. Marketing Analytics discipline and tools can be applied to and used with more traditional businesses as well. So if your business doesn’t have an online presence, and your sales come from in-person interactions while the tools mentioned above may have capabilities that are not suited to your needs there are other solutions in the market that will work for you.
In summary, BI is a broader field concerned with providing insights into an organization’s overall performance, while Marketing Analytics is more focused on using data and analytics to improve marketing performance. Both fields are essential for businesses looking to use data-driven decision-making to drive business value.
How StrataNorth can help.
Are you in need to scale your small or mid-sized business? Do you need help with the BI & Marketing Analytics strategy for your business? Let us help you. If you are ready to evaluate Business Intelligence and Marketing Analytics technology and are looking for experts to guide you, StrataNorth has Technology consultants with decades of experience. We can help you reach Strategic Growth and deliver an IT Roadmap by helping you find the tools that will get you there. Reach out for a no-cost, no-obligation chat with an IT Consultant today.