How do you convince top management that analytics is important?

I think most marketers in general understand that analytics is important, especially in justifying marketing spend. There are many things in marketing that we can’t measure or have difficulty measuring but with the increase in digital activity, things like Google Analytics and social media analytics make it even easier to get an idea of what’s happening.

Source: http://www.mitchellmackey.com.au/tag/analytics/

Source: http://www.mitchellmackey.com.au/tag/analytics/

The Germann et al. article about marketing analytics resonated with me in that executive/C level management do not understand the importance of analytics. The company I work for meets a lot of the criteria outlined in the paper for being one that would find analytics useful, such as a high level of competition. We are able to collect data from our website and social media but from there all we have is a bunch of data that potentially no one is interested in. It is not enough to just capture this data, something needs to be done with it and decisions need to be made.

The article states that many higher-ups do not understand or support analytics but that support from top management is necessary for effective deployment, so how do we engage top management for support? I feel that in some companies it is their attitude towards marketing in general, there are a lot of people who do not understand marketing and think it is not an important function in a business. In these cases it could be even harder to convince someone that marketing analytics is important, on the other hand analytics could also help to justify why marketing is important.

I feel that there is a gap to be bridged, in that it would be great to provide examples of how the business can benefit from analytics but at the same time if you can’t experiment then how can you provide examples? The best way would be to use examples from other businesses (which there are plenty of, for example here and here) or data from papers such as the Germann et al. one. There are plenty of resources for detailing why analytics are important (such as this one), but is sending a bunch of articles to top managers really going to help solve the problem? I don’t think it will.

Is anyone else in the same boat, experienced a similar issue or have any suggestions?

8 thoughts on “How do you convince top management that analytics is important?

  1. Scott Caraher

    Your blog raises interesting questions about the conundrum faced by many marketers, particularly those responsible for using and analysing social media as part of a marketing campaign to drive business growth. The conundrum relates to the fact that social media clearly has a place in business development but it is complex and can be unstructured. This necessarily means that the data and associated analysis of that data will also be complex. Explaining the meaning of the data to upper level management, who may already be sceptical about the value of at least some social media strategies (particularly, older manager who have not been weaned on social media), can be challenging. A message that is likely to convince upper level management of the need for social media and the importance of associated analytics is that they can help the business’ bottom line. This implies that a causal connection can be demonstrated between the social media strategy and business/profit growth and that this is evident from the analytics. Is it possible to demonstrate such a causal connection in such a complex environment? While demonstrating the direct impact of social media on the bottom line may be difficult, Germann et al’s article implies analytics can be used to map and assess the path to purchase, which is increasingly complex. A thorough understanding of the path to purchase will eventually lead to better targeted marketing campaigns through more accurate customer segmentation and, in turn, this will result in business growth.

    1. Blaire Post author

      Hi Scott,

      I agree with your comments, they are very insightful! We all know that Social Media, whist not always translating to sales, is an important part in building brand relationships. But getting that message through to older upper management is hard to do when most of them don’t use social media at all.

      I think the analytics connection is even more difficult to promote and prove in a B2B services setting, such as when no transaction takes place online. When you have a consumer purchasing a product online and your analytics are set up well, you can potentially track the whole process of them finding a company through social media right through to the final purchase. For a service with no online ordering its hard to track if any of your social media users are following through to a purchase. With nothing to prove the connection selling the whole idea to top management is a lot harder.

  2. Joey Dorrington

    Hi Blaire,

    Great article, there isn’t enough knowledge in the C-suite about marketing analytics at this point in time, but it improves every year.

    Specifically looking at your comment about social analytics, there are a couple of ways you can measure the impact of social media activity on business profits. In an earlier post on my blog I talked about the example of Refiner29 and their Facebook advertising – they were able to show that people who were exposed to three pieces of content spent 1700% more than people who did not see any content from the brand on Facebook. Facebook have a few of these case studies which highlight how much social content can influence purchase decisions.

    Not the easiest analysis to do as it isn’t last click (it is view through conversions) but very valuable when trying to sell in a social media program for a brand.

  3. Xiao Tan

    Hi Blaire,
    Great post! I’d like to share some my experience and views on these questions in your post.
    As you mentioned in the text, the impact of marketing analytics in some extent depends on the types of industry. Although, the article said for both B2B and B2C firms, marketing analytics work on both. However, based on my experience, it has less influences on B2B company especially those traditional manufacture industry. My family business is about chemical fiber which is a quite competitive market in China. As a B2B company, our main clients are focused on clothing industry. It is quite difficult for us to do the marketing analytics as we should not only focus on our clients or potential clients but also their clients which are customers. The customer preference changes rapidly in clothing industry but the change of raw materials is quite slowly. Hence, it is hard for marketer to marketing their products as the differentiation between products is small. Thus it causes that most of firms in chemical fiber industry do not pay attention to marketing analytics. Based on my opinion, if a marketer wants to convince the top manager, he/she should translate these massive data into the meaning behind it. We should explain what these data stands for and how it can be used to help benefit our company.

    1. Huashen Li

      Hi Xiao Tan,
      I cannot agree with you more. I have the similar working experience with you in China. Effectiveness of marketing analytics depends on the nature and the scale of the company. If your business is B2B and your major clients are restricted in the certain industries, marketing analytics and even social media marketing may not be adopted. I worked in a small machine company before and our main customers are limited to some important decision-makers in the certain companies, our marketing analysis are more focus on the their annual demand and the analysis of our known competitors. But it was still not the important part of our work, achieving sales target is the first and sole objective. However, for other industries, including tourism, retail and fashion, I think marketing analytics are quite important since these industries rely on the integrated marketing communications to achieve their sales targets. Indeed, the top management in these companies does not realize the importance of marketing analytics and even the social media platform. When I did part time job in a tourism company in China, the general manager refused to use wechat and weibo (the most popular social media platforms in China) to marketing the tourism product or the brand of the company, because he is old and does not use any social media platform. So I think, in order to persuade him, achieving precision marketing and sales increase through marketing analytics could change his mind.

  4. Nathan Meldrum

    Hi Blaire,
    I share your opinions about the content this week! I think you’ve hit on the head when you said “analytics could also help to justify why marketing is important”. Marketing analytics are all about measuring the effectiveness of what marketers do. Insomuch as, good or bad marketing practices will be revealed by the data, you can’t hide from it. It’s not just a way of judging the performance of a marketing unit (by higher-ups), but it’s one of the greatest tools a marketer has to actually perform their role effectively. We, as marketers, should never be afraid of the numbers, embrace them and make them work for us.
    Nice post, good job.

    Nathan

  5. Kanishka Agarwal

    Hi Blaire,
    I completely agree with you when you say that there are plenty of resources for detailing why analytics are important but sending a bunch of articles to top managers is not the solution. Even before we go ahead and comment on the understanding of social analytics by the top management, it is very important to identify the set of metrics which which are significant to the top management with regards to decision making.

    I personally feel that more than the quantitive analysis it is the qualitative analysis which comes under the purview of the top management. What this essentially means is that rather than looking at the performance of a campaign in terms of numbers (likes, shares, retweets, conversions and so on) the top-management should rather analyse that how do these numbers reflect on their brand. Have you come across any such trends and what should be a good way to implement social media analytics on a qualitative front?

  6. Sena

    Giving comment at this date it will have been appeared that I only do it for the mark 😀 But I truly just read your blog and felt that I can sympathize (or empathize?) with it. For so long people have been living under the impression that marketing is just “advertising” or “selling”. Its like people don’t want to embrace that marketing can benefit from experimental and analytical approach.
    As for how to convince the bosses. Well I guess the best way is to show the potential gain/loss that will be resulted. Cause like it or not most of the guys from the top are almost always “ROI-oriented”
    Thank you Blaire for the thought-provoking piece

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