Who really has time for analytics?

I’ve been there. The only marketer at a company that’s growing fast, lots of expectations from the C-suite, too many channels to test, too few hours in the day. Resources are tight, so you can’t hire the ten people you need to help you pull off all the campaigns you have going. Cloning yourself isn’t exactly an option because on top of being expensive and illegal, it's also of questionable ethics. Plus, who wants two of themselves? Be honest.

I also know that one of the first things to fall off of the plate is analytics. When you’ve got to send out an email newsletter, write a press release, respond to customer complaints on Twitter, monitor your ads on Facebook, and make a new deck for the sales department, it can be hard to keep an eye on your analytics with any real depth. You end up relying on reflexes and instincts to drive your decisions, not data. And you inevitably leave money on the table. It’s not ideal, but it’s what happens when you have one person trying to tackle an entire company’s marketing efforts on their own.

The problem is, analytics is one of the things that can scale your efforts most effectively. Probably even better than cloning, though I can’t confirm that at this point. There’s a compelling case to be made for making sure that your analytics practice stays high on your list even when you have ten other priorities.

Companies that excel at analytics perform better than their competitors. Like, a lot better.

It’s getting harder and harder to turn analytics into competitive advantage. It’s true, mostly because just like smoking under the bleachers during gym class, everybody’s doing it. But according to an INSEAD eLabs study, organizations that manage to put together an above-average analytics program see a significant competitive advantage. Like 2.6x larger sales growth. Or 2.7x larger margin growth. Or 2.4x larger profit growth. Or 8.5x larger total sharedholder return. You read that right. 8.5x.

So even though you may not be tweeting as much, you can take those numbers straight to your CEO and tell her to put them in her pipe and smoke it. Or, you know, you could keep your job and just tell her that it’s better this way. You should probably do that one. Not the pipe thing. Jobs are good.

Data-driven decision-making has been linked to better company performance

This isn’t news to you, or anybody for that matter. But knowing something and doing something are two different things entirely. 62% of executives who participated in PwC’s Global Data and Analytics Survey admitted to still relying more on experience and advice than data to make decisions, despite knowing that data-driven decision-making makes companies more profitable and productive.

Maybe even more importantly than it making your company actually more profitable, it makes executives *feel* like they’re making better decisions. I know I sound like a total marketer when I say that, but it’s bigger than that. As a founder and/or CEO in an emerging company, you litrally (shout out to intern Chelsea and Chris Traeger) NEVER get to make decisions that are super-well-informed by data. You’re stumbling around in the dark a lot of the time, and when you get that one opportunity to do the objective right thing instead of just what you *think* is right, it’s like summiting Everest. Take the wins where you can get them.

But Matt, what I’m doing is working pretty well, and I really, really don’t have time.

I know that feeling. You wouldn’t have gotten here if you weren’t a great marketer to start with. Your instincts are definitely better than somebody pulled in off the street. No question. But as marketers, we also have to understand that our biases cloud our vision. So as certain as you are that a marketing campaign will work, you’ve got to remember that you were just as sure that your team was going to win the SuperBowl last year. Or that karaoke was a good idea. They didn’t, and it wasn’t.

Look, you don’t have to get everything up and running perfectly tomorrow.

It’s just not going to happen. Pick one channel that you can absolutely kill it in for analytics, and go hard on it. Build a strategy with a testing methodology built in, and stick to it religiously. Use dashboarding software like Cyfe to do the thinking for you, save you time, and help you iterate towards a winning strategy faster. Then once you’ve got that channel down to a science, add another. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

I’m not here to lie to you. It’s not the most glamorous thing, but neither were the 10,000 hours Muhammad Ali spent in the gym before he could truly claim to be the greatest. So get in there, get some analytics going, and get smarter.


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