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The challenges of "Marketing" Analytics

   Marketing analytics has been around for so long that people have now started talking about sub - areas such as CRM analytics, forecasting, marketing supply chain, perishable retail analytics and so on. However, before you discredit this to be another blog reiterating the importance of analytics, I would like to clarify that this is rather about the challenges an analytics company faces in marketing analytics solutions. 

   On the surface, selling analytics seems to be simple... who wouldn't want to buy something if you were to tell them that it would lead to 40% cost savings in some business area while investing a tiny fraction of it? 

   However, we have moved much beyond that stage in Gartner's popularly reused "Hype-cycle". A lot of prospects now ask for strong credentials and references as well as look for result based pricing models. Besides, there is the freelance Data-scientists community who would give you a great solution at a negligible cost if you could frame a stimulating mathematical problem for them. Let's look at different channels and factors that a Marketer would use for marketing analytics:

1. Where is the product? - Simply put, analytics utilizes the brain-power of some great minds combined with computational power of great tools that run over distributed hardware to speed up operations. While it leads to business outcomes directly, it lies between services, products and consulting. There lies the difficulty to market it well. You can't promise similar results every time like you would with products, neither can you promise a clear goal like consulting since you need to look at the data first. Result based pricing works here sometimes... If you save 40%, give is 2% of savings. Some marketers even combine higher order Reporting which can be marketed like IT services with analytics. 

2. Where is the market? - Industry reports claim that the analytics market is set to grow to few trillion $ by 2020. While, I am not sure how much analytics they use to get to such figures, the truth is that a few buyers really know what they are buying and how to evaluate analytics before they make a decision to spend on analytics. Since analytics utilizes a combination of statistics, computer science/ mathematics and programming, it is naturally hard to understand how to use it. A lot of analytics, specially in the Insurance industry demands a lot of knowledge of the Insurance business processes and techniques besides knowledge of analytics. On the flip-side, while we hear a lot about the analytics projects leading to great successes, we need to face the fact that not all analytics projects lead to success. If one project fails in one industry, there is considerable time before that industry picks up and looks at analytics again. This probably happened in the Airline industry which has finally started re-looking at analytics in the last 2 years after a break of almost 10 years. With these market dynamics, it becomes all the more difficult for the marketer to identify segments, predict potential, align strategies and build a funnel for sales. Educating the roughly identified segments seems to be the easiest part which is why we are seeing a lot of webinars, blogs and whitepapers on this subject lately.

3. Selling it - We now get to the classic challenges between the marketing and sales departments. I believe this aspect is rarely touched upon in detail during management education and most graduates end up discovering for themselves these realities in the B2B market. Salespeople are always pressed for time and anything that needs them to spend more time studying and learning rather than being on the field closing deals would take a lot of convincing from marketing. Sales would quote "What's the point if we grow 50% in analytics next year due to efforts we put in this year but miss our targets this year. We could even end up working for another company by then." Younger salespeople have no great affinity for the traditional models and are more eager to take larger risks for larger rewards. This could be a possible entry point for the marketer.

In the end, like most marketing, there are marketing plans that work great and there are a lot others that do not work so well with analytics. The only difference being that it tends to be considerably difficult to market analytics successfully and make quick revenue out of it as compared to some of the traditional products or services. Perhaps an analytics solution that uses the power of analytics to market analytics itself could be something that the market needs. And it would be a great product since it would literally have the capacity to sell itself :D 

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Comment by Jeffrey Ng on July 28, 2013 at 1:11am
:) nice article, looking forward to hear more on how you manage to sell it. it should be insightful!

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