Balancing Marketing Analytics with Creativity

creativity contagiousJustifiably, much hype surrounds marketing analytics today with its power to personalize and track buyer behavior in the promise of ultra-targeted (and ultra-efficient) messaging. What validates this hype? Well, for one, perception. In Moz’s 2014 Industry Survey, analytics jumped out as a clear priority for marketers—whether they worked for agencies, in-house or as consultants.

Analytics is all over this Moz survey:

  • Overall “top 5 marketing activities” (#1)
  • “Top 5 marketing activities” for in-house people (#1)
  • “Top 5 marketing activities” for agencies (#1)
  • “Top 5 marketing activities” for consultants (#2)
  • 85% of consultants reported offering analytics as a service (#1 among services)
  • Web analytics professionals had the 4th-highest median salary by role out of 14 (trailing only engineering, user experience and e-commerce)

As the survey itself notes, “Analytics are a way of life across all online marketing fields.” I would assume most people reading this post would agree. With good reason, too: Analytics represent the power of Web tracking technology (especially in an ever-wired world) and are one of the primary differences between today’s marketing and your grandfather’s version.

One phenomenon to be mindful of, however, is the over-emphasis on analytics. What, there’s such a thing as too much analytics? You can never go wrong when you have data to guide every decision, can you?! Well, hear me out. Despite the great utility and business value of analytics, I urge everybody not to forget about the creativity that is at the heart of all marketing … that fundamental spark from which great ideas come. Marketers need to strike a balance between information and creativity, knowing that even the best data is no substitute for an original idea or innovative experiment. Data can guide and clarify, but it should never override what Peter Drucker says is one of your business’s primary purposes: innovation.

Likewise, data might shine a great light on what’s going on in your current and past marketing activities, as well as what your customers are up to, but it won’t necessarily tell you how to create new ones in the future … or how to break new ground and evolve by taking the calculated long-term risks that all the best businesses hazard in order to survive over time.

Bottom line: Use analytics to be smarter, but don’t forget about the power of any marketer’s greatest asset: The right side of the human brain.


Photo courtesy of Brian Metcalfe via Flickr.

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