Good Questions. Even Better Answers.
As a discipline, BI informs the work of many departments in an organization, including operations, HR, and finance. Today’s discussion will focus on BI’s importance to marketing teams and highlight some typical situations in which marketers might consider reaching out for BI assistance. I find it helpful to frame the discussion in terms of the four domains of every marketing promotion: offer, creative, audience, and timing. As a marketer, business intelligence is defined as any information that helps you make a better decision in one of these domains and in the campaigns that tie your promotions together.
When doing any kind of data analysis, it’s good to have a goal in mind. I suggest you start by casting your goals in business terms, not data terms. Maybe you work for a nonprofit whose goal is to attract more young donors to your cause. Or perhaps you’re looking to lower the overall cost of your DTC retail prospecting. Think strategically about how to meet your goal in terms of the four marketing domains listed above. This should bring into focus what you’ll need to measure as you pursue your goal, and that in turn informs what data you’ll need and how you might structure your analysis.
At this point, you may find that you don’t have all of the necessary data. If you were trying to attract younger donors to your cause, it might be helpful to know how younger donors are interacting with other organizations with appeals similar to your own. How young realistically is “younger”? What is the retention rate for those donors after their first gift? When you have questions like these that you just can’t answer on your own, that might be the right moment to reach out to us for the answers.
Clients and Partners First
We receive many different BI-related requests from clients and partners. Most often, a request involves a universe of people or firms to study, one or more metrics, relevant statistics, or KPIs, and at least one time period. All of that is grounded in some marketing context or target for the investigation. I tend to group requests into categories of study based on the specific goal of the request:
- Comparative analyses are intended to reveal meaningful similarities or dissimilarities between one dimension while holding others constant. A comparative analysis question would be something like: How does my Q4 revenue from new-to-files compare with others in my market?
- Planning and trend analyses reveal how some metric changes over time. A planning and trend analysis question would be something like: Given this trend in my retention rates across digital channels, how might I allocate my marketing budget next quarter?
- Profiling analyses seek to identify attributes about a group that tend to correlate with some other attribute or measurable behavior. A sample profiling analysis question would be something like: I have this great cohort of donors who came on file with above average inception gift amounts. What else do they have in common?
- Combined analyses produce a complex result using one or more of the three categories above.
Remember the four domains of a marketing campaign (offer, creative, audience, and timing) we discussed previously? If you apply the information flowing out of these kinds of investigations thoughtfully to any one of the domains, you’ll position yourself well to make decisions that improve your promotions and drive business growth.