Analytics by every other name… Have B2B Marketers watered down the idea of Analytics?

by Rick Volz on December 29, 2009

Rick Volz, SIGMA Marketing Group, B2B Practice Leader

Rick Volz

From the buzz at a typical industry trade show, you could get the impression that everyone has reached the pinnacle of achievement – optimized marketing analytics.  Once you scratch a little deeper, the reality is a much less mature marketplace than appears at first glance.  We really need to break through the buzz word clutter, define best practices in analytics, and talk about a new way to do business in the B2B market – adapted from our B2C colleagues who are often using very sophisticated marketing analytics.

Surely your company has “analytics.” You no doubt talk about having analytics, needing more analytics, not knowing what to do with analytics, etc.  Do a search on analytics and you get a wide variety of returns.   Well, what exactly is everyone  talking about?

It is likely all you are really talking about is Reporting – Since the term “analytics” sounds much more valuable and sophisticated, many vendors and now their users are referring to “reporting” as “analytics”.  Certainly the reliance on paper reports and the insight to be gained from a two-dimensional report has been relatively diminished.  Software tools for reporting and business intelligence allow for a multi-dimensional view of data, which lets a user drill into the information to answer the next question, aka more analysis.  CRM systems and Sales Performance Automation systems often include “analytics.” What they are generally providing is an aggregated reporting capability that allows for some drill down analysis.

On the other hand you could be talking about Predictive Analytics – There are a wide variety of techniques and terms used for predictive analytics, including data mining, statistics, modeling, etc.  However, in the end they all take in current and historical data to make predictions about future events.  In business, predictive models exploit patterns found in historical and transactional data to identify risks and opportunities.  Since they can be very complex, predictive analytics capture relationships among many factors to allow assessment of a particular set of conditions, providing new insight.

B2C companies have been using predictive analytics for years to improve the targeting of their marketing campaigns and, as a result, increase ROI.  Yet B2B companies have not utilized the capability to the same extent to target their sales campaigns.

Consider the value to sales, marketing and strategic planning of your B2B business if, through predictive analytics, you identified ALL of the highest probability opportunities to capture customer and market share across your target universe. Maybe you would define those analytics as ROI!

About the Author:

Rick Volz is a Business-to-Business Practice Leader for SIGMA Marketing Group, responsible for thought-leadership and business solutions in the B2B market.  Follow Rick on  or connect with him on .

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