The Importance of Data Analytics in Marketing
The Importance of Data Analytics in Marketing

The Importance of Data Analytics in Marketing

Since this blog was initially published, the curriculum has been updated to be even more relevant to the modern marketer. As of Fall 2022, Emerson College is proud to offer our reimagined Master of Arts in Marketing, previously known as the Master’s of Digital Marketing and Data Analytics (DMDA).


Marketing has had a prolonged reliance on data to measure the effectiveness of campaigns and the return on investment (ROI). For situations where data was not available in sufficient quantities, marketers relied on their gut instincts, typically informed by past practices. With data now available in vast amounts from a variety of platforms, working from anecdotal evidence or strictly on past practice will likely result in the company's reduced market share. Not responding in real-time to a customer's needs means the competition will have a clear edge. Employing individuals who combine marketing savvy with advanced analytical skills is no longer a luxury but a necessity for any marketing endeavor.

The Penetration of Digital Marketing

The future is now in terms of digital marketing. Per Internet World Stats, as of April 2019, out of a North American population of 366 million, approximately 328 million (89.4%) are Internet users. That percentage holds for the United States alone. Coupon Follow conducted a survey of millennials in early 2019 and found that the majority (60%) do their shopping online. 39% of the millennials reported doing all of their shopping online (up from 10% in 2017). As these percentages grow, marketers must adapt to managing the digital marketing world and the data that comes with it.

The Right Metrics for the Best Results

The ability to quantify data has changed the scope of marketing analysis to evidence-based decisions. ActiveDemand lists several key performance indicators (KPIs) that marketing firms should be tracking, including:

  • ROAs – return on ad spending (revenue from channels divided by the cost)
  • ROIs – determining profitability by comparing profits with costs
  • PixelMark notes other critical KPIs such as:
  • Cost per conversion
  • Form conversion (content marketing)

An individual with a background in digital marketing and data analytics is needed to design useful and accurate measures to best quantify the KPIs. A sophisticated analyst can determine not only what measures are relevant, testable, and replicable, but also what measures are timely and attainable. More important, as pointed out by Vision Edge Marketing, is the ability to link those metrics (and associated benchmarks) with critical business objectives and outcomes. The analyst with a background in digital marketing and data analytics will know how to connect the firm’s achievements with their mission, values, and goals. Three components that must be quantified in terms of marketing are:

  • Effectiveness
  • Success
  • Impact

All of the above must tie back to the business objectives of the company. Accurate and appropriate measurement of these elements not only leads to better decisions but increased accountability. Forbes reports that these components also assist a company in maintaining perspective into how to keep expectations and goals realistic.

The Role of Analytics in Marketing

Towards Data Science listed a variety of roles a data scientist/digital analyst can take on to make a marketing campaign leaner and more effective to optimize overall efficiency. Key among these roles:

  • Targeting the right audience – ensuring that the marketing campaign centers on those not only in the market for the product, but most apt to convert from shopper to customer.
  • Using the right channels – email? Text? Social media ads? Which medium will give the best lift for that target audience?
  • Lead scoring – which particular product/brand is apt to lead to customer conversion?
  • Pricing strategies – combining the current economic climate with spending histories and preferences to close the sale.
  • Web analytics – tracking site traffic, time spent on the site, and click-throughs.

Targeting the right audience may be the essential focus of analytics in marketing. Understanding who the customer is, what they are looking for, and their purchasing preferences is front and center in productive and profitable marketing. There are several analytical means to understand a brand’s customers. Customer profiles/personas are used to highlight the characteristics of individuals most apt to purchase. These profiles give insight into how to best deliver the advertising (e.g., is the individual most apt to respond to an email campaign or click through an ad on Facebook?)

Sentiment analysis, another analytical dive into understanding a brand’s customers, is the exploration of the customer’s beliefs, attitudes, and opinions. This type of understanding will lead to enhanced content strategy and customer communication. A digital analyst can create models that will indicate how to best improve the customer's purchasing experience to increase loyalty (a hallmark of marketing success). Along with models, a well-trained marketing digital analyst can make effective use of tools such as surveys that require degrees of sophistication to succeed. With the right employment of digital analytics, all of this can be done in real-time, giving the company a boost over its competitors.

Example of Analytics in Marketing: New York Times Subscribers

The New York Times described the analytics they employed to determine the most influential factors that lead individuals to purchase subscriptions. They sought to quantify each stimulus (e.g., stories, advertisements, messages) that had the most impact. They accomplished this by building a “market-mix” model. This model is a longitudinal multivariate regression that gives numeric indicators of the most significant factors resulting in subscribers. Most noteworthy was the Times’ use of in-house analysts. They emphasized the savings in resources, particularly the most precious resource of all in marketing – time. Making use of their own analysts instead of relying on external vendors meant reaching their audience at the point they were most apt to subscribe. They needed – and hired – marketing analysts who were capable of:

  • Managing the data
  • Validating the data
  • Building the model
  • Validating the model

Reporting results in a manner that was clear, readily understood, and actionable was important.

Digital Skills That Boost Marketing Careers

Burning Glass Technologies reported on the skills a digital marketing analyst should master; these skills are a blend of both technical and “soft.” The digital skills include proficiency in tools such as:

  • MS Office Suite
  • Adobe Suite
  • Google Analytics/AdWords
  • Hootsuite
  • Brandwatch
  • SAS Studio
  • Semantria Text and Sentiment Analysis
  • SQL
  • Javascript

Some important soft skills include:

  • Budgeting
  • Creativity
  • Project Management
  • Leadership
Digital Marketing and Data Analytics – The Right Education

So, what does it take to gain these skills to advance and enhance your marketing career? Most of these skills can be obtained by way of an advanced degree, such as a Masters in Digital Marketing and Data Analytics. You want to be sure that the coursework is thorough and rigorous; it should include not only classes in analytical methodology but reporting and storytelling (the story of the data). Marketing is a blend of both art and science - therefore the program should also offer insights into the creativity and innovation of masterful marketing, while the analytics component serves to inform the unique strategies in place. There is one such Digital Marketing and Data Analytics (DMDA) online masters program in Boston, at Emerson College. Their online Masters in Digital Marketing and Data Analytics (DMDA) includes coursework in:

  • Digital campaign creation
  • Analytics methods and applications
  • Brand storytelling
  • Advanced customer insights

Emerson College's flexible and relevant program is designed to help you boost your career in marketing and digital analytics. Connect with an enrollment advisor to learn more.