Businesses usually have some analysts around, even if the business is not particularly “data-driven”.
The term Business Analyst has been around for a while, usually referring to a person who is a translator of sorts between Business Units and IT. These people try to make sure “requirements” from the business side are implemented as desired on the IT side.
Sometimes there are Operational Analysts, who are typically IT folks or Engineers, depending on the business. This is the world of Six Sigma and process, where the business is trying to improve throughput or cut down on waste. But we know that just because Operations is Operating Just Fine, we don’t always get the result we would like from a Marketing perspective.
A similar Analyst might be present in Marketing Operations Management. This is really about the process of Marketing execution though, not Acquisition / Retention / Customer Value.
I don’t think I have ever seen a decent-sized business without Financial Analysts. These folks look for variances or unusual activity in Financial Reporting and seek to explain why. Sometimes they actually get involved with Marketing analysis, though usually not for something like “Campaigns”. Instead, they look for structural problems that manifest as a “problem with Marketing” in the Financial systems.
As a Marketing person, these are the analysts you have to be aware of and build relationships with, because they can really cause you a lot of pain if you’re not paying attention.
For example, let’s say you are spending money to generate subscriptions and these subs have a very high cancel rate. You may not see these cancels but they are easy to spot in the Financial systems. A Financial analyst is simply going to ask, why? Maybe you have a reason to do what on the surface looks like a complete waste of money. But the question will be asked.
Or, let’s say a Financial analyst finds a product with a very high return rate, and questions why the product should even be offered. From the buyer the analyst learns this product is often featured in Marketing promotions, because “the response rate is so high”. Hmm. Again, maybe you have a reason to be reckless with demand generation. But the question will be asked.
Another example is Service Load. Let’s say on average, the company experiences 1 customer service interaction for every 5 monetary transactions processed. Now comes your campaign, and the Service load generated is 1 customer service interactions for every 2.5 monetary transactions processed – double the average rate. A stat like that is a classic bell-ringer for a Financial Analyst, and the question will be asked – why?
At some point, as the level of attention a company pays to analysis continues to grow, these kinds of issues will start to pop up a lot. Management starts to question the value of all the “front end” analysis coming from Marketing out of web sites and other demand systems, because “response” is only half (or maybe a third) of the Financial story.
And they can prove it.
It ends up the real story is often in the back end. What is the result “Net Net”, after all the dust has settled? “Net Net” is typically about 90 days out from the initial transaction (unless you run a 6 month trial or similar idea), to allow for the various types of slippage that can occur in the final results – posting delays, credit card cycles, returns processing, and so forth.
Here’s an old direct marketing truism: for any two similar campaigns, the one with the higher response rate likely generates the lower quality customer. “Low quality” in this case means (relative to the other campaign) high return rates, high cancel rates, high levels of Service Load, etc.
So if you are Optimizing purely against response, you may be shooting your company (and yourself) in the foot.
A Marketing Productivity Analyst, who likely would be a former Financial Analyst, could be an investment that would really be worth your time and effort, on several different levels.
Here is the fundamental issue.
All of the above “Low Quality Customer” issues – high return rates, high cancel rates, high levels of Service Load – are typically not really “Customer” problems. Low Quality Customers are the end result, not the Root Cause. The Root Cause usually lies somewhere in Marketing, Product, or Service.
And nobody is responsible for addressing these problems proactively, before they become large enough to cause Financial pain or even Social pain. So how about you, Marketer or Marketing Analyst?
Is there any other silo where these issues potentially have a greater negative impact on true Net Financial performance? Think about it.
Customer Service is reactive, they respond. It’s not their job to be proactive, they take care of problems after occurence. Further, does it make sense to continue generating problems they have to respond to?
Financial Analysts are also reactive, and typically work on much longer time frames. In other words, by the time a Financial Analyst discovers a problem in Marketing, Product, or Service it’s probably a big problem. And a big problem in Marketing, Product, or Service is a problem that undoubtedly has been released already to the Social / PR world.
Which in the end, just makes the Marketing job much more difficult, doesn’t it? Doing battle with negative buzz in every campaign?
What is needed is a cross-silo analyst (like Financial Analysts typically are) with a shoter-term, more focused perspective (like Web Analysts typically have). A cross-breed, bridging this open gap in the system.
If you’re not going to take this proactive stance, who will?