on Jan 07, 2022 / by Corey Cantrell

The Differences Between Marketing Analytics and Business Intelligence

Without a doubt, in the world of digital marketing, the ability to analyze and produce quality data remains the most important success factor. If there’s one thing that the surge of business intelligence and marketing analytics has taught us, it’s that there’s a need for fresh and processed information being uploaded to a company’s database at a consistent pace. However, these terms get thrown around quite often. Marketing analytics, business intelligence…what do they actually mean? Is there a difference?

Introduction to Marketing Analytics

Digital marketing, specifically demand generation, over the past few years has been dead set on cracking the code of data fluidity. Between enriching their database with various key revenue-driving points, or the removal of “bad” data; there’s a constant search for the perfect balance of quality and quantity. According to MailChimp, marketing analytics serves two primary purposes:

  • To gauge how well your marketing efforts are performing, measuring the effectiveness of your marketing activity.
  • To determine what you can do differently to get better results across your marketing channels.

The end goal with a successful marketing analytics strategy is to turn your actualized data into a go-to-market plan.

The main reason businesses have relied so heavily on this solution to the overwhelming data challenge, is that, when done correctly, marketing analytics can truly streamline how your company views its customers and brand. You’re able to define who your buyers are, what they like about your products, and why they engage with your marketing assets. To put it simply, marketing analytics creates actionable goals out of your unprocessed data.

What is Business Intelligence?

Business intelligence is a term that is thrown around quite a bit in the demand generation and sales space. Mainly due its name being so generic. In reality, business intelligence can be any information that reinforces your business strategy. However, when it comes to marketing and revenue, business intelligence solutions get a little more involved. One of the biggest reasons for that complexity is that there’s a lot of ways to approach data acquisition and enrichment.

Business intelligence, to a marketing and sales professional, is the process of onboarding and acquiring new data points and bolstering any accessible database (usually a CRM or automation). This seems like a pretty straight forward solution – so, why is it so complicated?

The straightforward answer is that acquiring data, as it stands right now, is incredibly inconsistent, often producing varying results. Too many options, with too many variables; creates for a messy outcome. Therefore, companies tend to find the most success with business intelligence when they focus on expanding targeted areas, rather than the whole database.

Challenges for Both Solutions

Really, if you look at both options of marketing analytics and business intelligence, you’ll find many similarities. One of the biggest being the need to expand your understanding of your database and buyer set. It’s probably safe to assume that your company is either doing one, or many versions of these solutions to create better revenue-focused plans. In fact, over 80% of digital marketers are currently looking to gain a better understanding of their buyer personas. If both of these statements are true, then why are there so many solutions focused on streamlining business analytics?

One of the major challenges surrounding data acquisition and processing is balance of quality vs quantity in results. The fact of the matter is that many digital marketers are solely focused short-term results rather than multi-faceted ROI. This has created a major gap in the marketing analytics and business data space, with companies looking to simply put a bandage on the problem rather than actually fixing it. Both marketing analytics and business intelligence strategies can be immensely effective with demand generation marketers as long as they’re approached with well-planned out ROI expectations and structured goals.

Marketing Analytics vs Business Intelligence

So, which one should you focus on? If you only have the capacity to handle one of these strategies at a time – how do you know which one is best for you? As marketing and sales software looks to blur the lines with a general revenue-based approach, it’s actually getting more and more difficult to understand just how to address your specific needs. Most research will net you an understanding of the challenges you face, and unfortunately point you towards to a full tech stack instead of solving individualized problems.

Really, to understand what solution you need the most – you only need to look at your current database (or databases) and evaluate its effectiveness. If you’re looking at your data software and feel confident in the information that is currently in there – then a multi-step marketing analytics strategy might be a good solution for you. However, if you’re looking at your database and find yourself wanting more actionable information about your buyers, then business intelligence might be the best place to start. It really comes down to these two points:

  • Marketing analytics processes and structures your raw marketing data.
  • Business intelligence enriches and expands your current database.

Can you do both? Absolutely. In fact, it’s probably in your best bet to have both strategies running simultaneously – pulling in data and processing it for personalized marketing campaigns.

In Conclusion

There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to managing your database. The fact that you’re just researching how to make it better probably means you’re in a good spot from a marketing standpoint. The worst thing you can do is to ignore the challenges and focus on fast solutions that look good in the moment. Demand generation marketing is hard and trying to plan out your ROI with various strategies is even harder. However, with careful planning and focusing on quality data; you can truly make an impact on your business’ brand positioning and marketing.

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