A screenshot of an abacus with an upward arrow, representing marketing analytics.
Marketing Data and Analytics 101
A screenshot of an abacus with an upward arrow, representing marketing analytics.

Marketing Data and Analytics 101

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, data is “facts or information, especially when used to find things out or make decisions.’

Analysis is that process of finding things out — of looking for meaning within your data. Analytics uses computers for data analysis, making it much faster and more effective.

That all sounds great. But what does it mean for marketers? 

A lot, actually! Data analytics has revolutionized marketing, and it’s part of what makes digital marketing so powerful. 

Today, we’ll give you an introduction to everything you need to know about marketing data in the digital age.  

What is marketing data analytics?

In a marketing context, ‘analytics’ usually means analyzing data on customers, and the campaigns and content you’ve created to reach them. 

Data and analytics let marketers base their strategy on evidence. It’s all about knowing exactly how your tactics perform, so you can double down on what’s working, and scale back on what’s not. 

With analytics, marketers don’t need to guess what their customers want, or what strategy will get them the best results. They can see exactly how their campaigns are performing, improve them as needed, and create better outcomes for their company. 

Marketing analytics 101: Using the right metrics

Marketers use many different metrics to track if they’re reaching their goals. 

Here are a few of the most important metrics across general marketing, email, social media, paid ads, and SEO. 

Return on investment (ROI) 

This is a general metric to describe how much profit your marketing activities are generating, compared to what they cost. Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) is a common way to measure ROI from paid search or social media ads

Customer lifetime value (CLV)

This metric tracks how much income each customer will create over the course of their customer journey. This is a useful way to measure ROI

Customer acquisition cost (CAC)

A measure of how much money a company must invest to gain each new customer, and another way of measuring ROI.

Conversion rate

This marketing analytics metric measures which percentage of your customers, or potential customers, are taking a specific action, such as making a purchase. Click-Through Rate (CTR) is a type of conversion rate often used in email marketing 

Engagement and reach

These social media marketing metrics are an essential part of marketing analytics. Reach tracks how many users saw your social content while engagement describes how many users interacted with your content, such as through comments and shares.

Search traffic and keyword ranking

Search traffic and keyword ranking are crucial for marketing analytics. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) marketing metrics are useful for creating content that gets better traction in search engines. Search traffic measures how many users are being driven to your site from search engines while keyword ranking describes how close to the top of search results your content appears.

The importance of marketing analytics

Marketing data is important because it’s proof that your strategy is working — or not.

In the Mad Men days of yesteryear, marketers might release an entire ad campaign and not know how it performed until months later, when they reviewed annual or quarterly sales. Even then, they wouldn’t be able to say for sure how the campaign contributed to those results.

Today, things couldn’t be more different. Because most marketing now happens online, it generates a high volume of data. You don’t have to guess how many people saw your campaigns, or if those impressions led to valuable actions like purchases — you have near-instant data to know for sure. 

That lets marketers work in a highly informed, responsive way. Data lets you constantly iterate and improve, generating better returns not just financially, but also on the hard work and creativity you put into what you do. 

How to use marketing analytics

But what does data-driven marketing actually look like in a practical context? 

Here’s an example data-driven workflow, for a few different types of digital marketing. 

Paid social media or search engine ads

  • Design two ads for the same product, but with different content 
  • Run both through Google Ads, Facebook Ads, or another platform 
  • A/B test the two ads and analyze which performed better
  • Replace the lower-performing ad, then keep repeating the process

Organic SEO 

  • Use a keyword research tool to identify popular, relevant keywords with low competition 
  • Publish original content targeting the keywords
  • Analyze how much traffic that content brought to your website, and how highly it ranks for its keyword

Organic social media 

  • Create regular reports on your social media content’s performance. Track metrics like reach, likes, and comments on each post 
  • You can also track how many conversions your content prompted, like newsletter signups or the use of a discount code
  • In the future, emphasize the kind of content that performs best with your audience

Email marketing

  • Most email automation tools offer built-in analytics
  • Email marketers can take an A/B testing approach similar to paid ads, or a reporting-based approach like a social media marketer would

Top marketing data and analytics software

It’s never been easier for marketers to bring data into their process. 

From free beginner options to super-advanced, powerful solutions, there are now analytics software tools for nearly every type of marketing. 

Here are the most important types of data analytics tools for marketing, and a few of the most popular options in each category. 

Customer relationship management systems (CRMs)

These all-in-one systems track many kinds of customer data, across marketing, sales, and customer service. 

CRMs aren’t exclusively for marketing, but they contain plenty of information that’s valuable to marketers. 

Top CRMS: 

Paid social media and SEO

This type of marketing is inherently data-driven. Marketers can buy, publish, and analyze pay-per-click (PPC) and other types of paid ads all within one platform.

Social media ads can also often be analyzed with social media analytics tools, which we’ll cover next. 

Top paid ad tools

Social media marketing analytics tools

There are many great software tools for social media marketers. 

Most of these tools allow users to plan and schedule their posts, as well as analyze their performance. 

Top social media analytics tools 

Organic SEO analytics tools

SEO marketers can use data at every step of their process. Here are some of the most popular tools to research keywords, optimize content, and analyze performance. 

Top SEO tools

Email marketing analytics and automation tools

Email marketing tools don’t just offer analytics — they streamline marketers’ whole process. 

Most email software lets users create segmented audiences, send mass emails to thousands of customers at once, and track important metrics like open and click-through rates. 

Top email analytics tools

Marketers love data

In the 21st century, marketers are lucky! We have access to a wealth of data to help us reach our customers, make good decisions, and deliver amazing results. 

Creativity still matters — it’s how you create fresh, beautiful content that surprises and delights your customers. 

But data helps us understand how customers react to that creativity, and keep reworking our ideas around their needs, preferences, and values.