Commentary

Organizing A Marketing Analysis Team

All marketers are looking for ways to raise revenue and lower costs -- and analytics is ready for action. Web analytics, predictive analytics, database marketing and more are the act of applying more ingenuity to the tools and data you already have. But where do you start?

When tasked with putting a squad of analysts together to get the most value to the organization, you've got questions. How do you hire? Whom should they report to? What are their objectives? How do you train them?

I asked Seth Romanow, a marketing analytics management consultant, for some help with these questions. After building analytics teams at Compaq, HP and Microsoft and being a Founder of the Web Analytics Association, he knows whereof he speaks.

  I asked Seth for the three most important things to think about when putting together an analytics organization. He successfully avoided my favorite answer: It depends. Instead, he quickly identified the need to understand business goals, ensure that insight can turn into business outcomes, and start with senior-level sponsorship.

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  This third factor is key, because any data-driven team is going to grow from reporting, through optimization and into a full business consultancy which will cut horizontally across a company. This is the group that can make correlations and recommendations based not on years of experience, inclination and conjecture, but on facts, figures and hypothesis testing.  

With a key budget-influencing executive championing the cause, it's time to focus on the business goals. Building a team without clear purpose is a non-starter; the purpose should be to further the business goals of the company. I share Seth's astonishment at how many companies cannot clearly and immediately enumerate their top goals. Somewhere in the mix of raising revenue, lowering costs and boosting customer satisfaction is a vision, strategy and goal set dying to be articulated.

  Finally, but no less important, is a lucid charter for this group that the rest of the company can understand. So many analysts face the untenable situation where they have important, valuable and actionable intelligence to convey to key stakeholders in the organization -- but do not have the ear of those who might benefit. The way must be paved for the potential recipients of business insights to listen and act.

 This requires the development of a marketing analysis team to include education for the consumers of analysis. If the business end of the business is not ready, willing and able to stop, look and listen then the project cannot be successful from the start.

 In order to get the most value from the plethora of analytical tools and the deluge of data you already have, you must be able to secure senior sponsorship, clearly identify the organization's goals and spread the word internally about the value of the effort. And it wouldn't hurt to have Seth Romanow there to point the way. He can be reached at seth.romanow@comcast.net .

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