Think Micro not Macro - decisions, that is
For analytics to become the lifeblood of the (marketing) accountability process, the focus needs to shift from a micro- (investment level) to macro- (enterprise-wide) perspective.
I take a different perspective. I think that if you are going to embed analytics deeply into your marketing then you need to use analytics to improve your micro decisions. So what are micro decisions? Well they are probably the most common kind of hidden decision in an organization. These are hidden because although organizations realize they make a decision, they do not realize how many they make. For instance, if you decide to send a marketing letter to a subset of your customers you might think you have made a couple of decisions – what to put in the letter and who receives it – and so you have. In addition, however, you have made a decision for each customer to either receive or not receive the letter. Therefore, if you have 10,000 customers you just made 10,000 more decisions. If your website has a thousand visitors each day and you have decided on a promotion to display then you have made a thousand additional decisions just today – to display that promotion to each individual visitor. When you add a new option to your Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system, you have decided that everyone who hears that menu must hear that option. When you decide on the price for a product, you have decided to offer that product at that price to each potential customer who asks. Should you, in fact, consider the price separately for each customer?
Another way to spot micro decisions is to review your strategic decisions. If you have clearly articulated, in the description of the strategic decision, all the operational consequences then you will likely have described a number of operational or micro decisions then will need to be changed. If you have not described operational consequences carefully, then you probably have hidden decisions. For instance, a strategic decision to improve customer retention through marketing offers needs a plan for making sure that every interaction with a customer that might impact their decision to stay or go has been re-considered in that light. Trying to think through all the ways you hope the organization will change in response to a strategic initiative can bring to light many hidden micro decisions that support that strategic one.
To make analytics your lifeblood, you need to make sure you identify these micro decisions, get them right and analytically improve them.