We have no qualms about beating the following concept into the ground, which is why you've likely heard us say it before: Analytics are critically important to inbound marketing success. Measuring and analyzing the performance of every inbound marketing channel you use to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into customers—then making adjustments to your marketing strategy and tactics based on the insights you glean from them—is what separates good inbound marketing from truly remarkable inbound marketing.
So if you're leaning toward the side of remarkable inbound marketing, you likely have some type of marketing analytics tool in place to track and measure how your marketing programs are performing. And that's all well and good, but there's a deficiency in many of these analytics platforms.
So exactly what is missing from most analytics tools these days? A canonical identity.
Putting the Person at the Heart of Analytics
The biggest thing missing from many present-day analytics solutions is the customer. While it's great to have aggregate data—like overall number of page views, leads, etc.—it's also important to remember that an individual view or lead represents an actual person. When you take this person-centric approach, you can go back in time and look at every interaction that an individual person took.
The Role of Cohort Analytics
It's easy to see why person-centric analytics are a huge advantage, especially for companies whose marketing and sales teams are very closely tied together. However, to make truly useful strategic decisions, what businesses really need are cohort analytics.
This is not to be confused with aggregate data or basic segmentation . Cohort analytics let you focus on a group of people who shared a particular experience at a specific point in time. In other words, you can then compare your visitors who saw Campaign A in January to those who saw it in February, all while ignoring those who saw Campaign B or C.
Even better, with person-level analytics, you can identify customer personas to help you find out what marketing tactics work well for each persona. For instance, you'll be able to see that people like Robbie respond better to email campaigns, while people like Joe convert better through social media.
The Future of Analytics Is Integrated
The two concepts above are patterns that other analytics products are likely to follow very soon. Kissmetrics has already started to adopt the canonical identity stuff, and Google is making headway on cohorts. However, an analytics product, on its own, isn't going to be enough to give you all the answers you want. For example neither Kissmetrics nor Google can give you good conversion data on the entire history of an A/B tested landing page , which will have variations starting and stopping at different times. As that gets more complex, it'll become nearly impossible for those analytics products to keep track of your cohorts without being deeply integrated with your CMS.
Things get even more complicated if you want to integrate your email analytics, browser data, error logging data, usage tracking, etc. Once you start going down that road, be ready with an army of engineers and a fat checkbook.
In order to create a truly powerful analytics system, all of a marketer's analytics need to live in one place, and they need to talk to each other. The HubSpot software currently offers this capability. Marketers should be hopeful that other solutions will also follow suit.
Having an all-in-one solution is valuable for marketers not just because it's "convenient" to have everything in one place, but also because the richest insights come from the intersection between different channels. Once marketers have these insights at their fingertips, they'll be able to make their marketing even more tailored to suit the individual needs and behaviors of their prospects and leads.
Originally published Jan 20, 2012 6:15:00 PM, updated July 28 2017