Advanced Analytics

The First Step Towards Reaching Greatness

By: AJ Dalal

Analytics are here to stay; and understanding how to succeed with analytics is paramount to your organization’s success. If you don’t start with the basics and mature your capability from there, your analytics capability will fail. This statement shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but you would be shocked to learn that most of the clients I’ve worked with struggle to develop a winning foundation in analytics.

Over the past decade, the number of analytics tools that have entered the marketplace has gone from only a few to a mind boggling 1,876 and counting. This is a testament to the demands of organizations to remain competitive. From 2014 to 2015 alone the number of analytics tools have doubled.

2014 = 947 companies


2015 = 1,876 companies


For my first blog post I will be covering: “Analytics Basics” & “Truths & Myths.” These two topics are core to the way I view analytics. An effective analytics strategy always starts with the basics and then differentiates between truths and myths. Let’s begin.

What are the “basics” and what does this mean for your organization? Over a series of blog posts, my objective is to simplify this complex marketplace and help to make sense of it all. My goal is for this to become an open dialogue, so feel free to share any questions, comments or insights in the responses section below.

The “basics” can be summarized with these seven pillars to creating a framework for success:

1. Establish business objectives
2. Define your tactics
3. Identify data sources
4. Centralize your analysis with recommendations
5. Create a path to execute the recommendations
6. Ensure you have an optimization team (test, test, test)
7. Rinse & repeat steps 1–6

Establishing these steps or a variation of these steps will ensure your organization is set up for success. While the list may seem daunting, the most important point in this blog post is coming up right now: Don’t be afraid to fail. Make a decision on these steps and if you’re wrong, admit it, learn from it, and fix it. Rarely is anything successful on its first attempt. So go ahead, start and as step 7 says, rinse and repeat.

Truths & Myths: Take a look at the following five points. Are you able to figure out which are truths and which are myths? My opinion may surprise you.

1. Your analytics data must be accurate to make business decisions
2. The more data you have, the smarter the organization
3. Executive reports must have several pages
4. Data should lead all decisions
5. 1:1 marketing should be top priority for any company

In my opinion, all five of these points are myths. Let me explain:

1. Myth: Your analytics data must be accurate to make business decisions.

Analytics data is directional and its purpose is to help guide us in the right direction to make campaign optimization decisions. As long as the data points you in the right direction you are on the right track.

2. Myth: The more data you have, the smarter the organization

Too much data = being data drunk. If you haven’t defined specifically what data you need to make a decision, you will end up pulling all sorts of data points that will leave you in a drunk state (figuratively speaking).

3. Myth: Executive reports must have several pages

Executive reports need to be a single page, be aesthetically beautiful, leverage visuals and include an executive summary that explains “what happened, what does this mean, and what you’re doing about it.”

4. Myth: Data should lead all decisions

Contrary to most analytics professional’s beliefs, I believe that data isn’t the leader in a conversation, but rather a compliment to the conversation.

5. Myth: 1:1 marketing should be top priority for any company

The buzz of 2015 is 1:1 marketing. This phrase has become the most common topic of conversation amongst clients I’ve worked with in 2015. However, before an organization does 1:1 marketing (personalization), you have to start with 1:Many (Campaign), then 1:Some (Segmentation) before you can get to 1:1.

To create a framework for analytics success, combine the seven basic steps to establishing your analytics capability with an understanding of the five key truths and myths. Over the next few posts, I will roll up my sleeves and dive into analytics tools of the past and present to uncover the ideal analytics ecosystem that will enable you to become an industry leader.

AJ Dalal is a Group Account Director at GALE. He brings over 15 years of marketing strategy experience, along with a deep expertise in advanced analytics. AJ is passionate about driving actionable insights based on stakeholders business objectives. He has worked with a wide range of impressive clients including start-ups and Fortune 100 companies.