Mike Moran from IBM made a very insightful post a few weeks back. Unfortunately, I don’t think it received the attention that it should have. It really is the frustration of many consultants and marketers like myself who go through all of the pains to help clients market themselves effectively, but they just don’t get the fact that analytics has EVERYTHING to do with marketing.

Like Mike, my approach in my teaching is focused on the development of business goals and measurement of results. Unfortunately, many clients are miles ahead and wanting to start their marketing campaign. Mike’s comments focus on search and rankings, but it even goes beyond that. Many marketers are in love with the campaign, but despise the measurement, or even taking the time to define success.

It was one of the most fulfilling moments a few weeks ago when a client complemented our approach. She was grateful that I didn’t cave in to their desire to start marketing right away. Rather, she was thankful that they followed my advice to take a step back, evaluate everything, build measurement goals, and then refocus the campaign. That thankfulness made my day. When clients understand the value of metrics, they then start to measure everything in terms of value, and web marketing takes on a whole new aspect. (and becomes fun!)

The value of metrics is clear.
Information is readily available to evaluate and compare new campaigns. New niche markets are exposed. Entire regions are discovered from old campaigns and analytics, providing unearthed resources for new campaigns. New ideas can be gleaned from old data, and once repeated campaigns can now be refocused on specific targets.

For me, I can’t understand the thinking of changing a website based on a guess that it might improve. Too many companies focus attention on campaigns or the latest social media buzz without first exploring the metrics and methods for success. There are too many companies that simply purchase Google AdWords without doing the slightest bit of research into keywords and reporting.

Ideally, once campaigns begin, measurements are in place to provide immediate measurement and metrics for success. It is no longer a guessing game. Improvements have specific results that are focused on the bottom line. Each change can be tied to a reason and a measurable result.

The web has made everything faster, and analytics tends to get left behind. Granted, much of today’s tools and depth of insight was absent early on, but that shouldn’t be an excuse. For some organizations the first question I ask seems to be the hardest: “What is the purpose of your website?”

Eric Peterson mentioned this same concept when he said “analytics works best when measurement expectations are clearly defined in advance, not after the fact or in an ad-hoc basis.” Amazingly, this same concept works in almost every area of life and business. For some reason, it’s been forgotten in online marketing.

Analytics is not just about numbers, it’s about improvements, processes, experience, and planning. You don’t have to be doomed to repeat the same failed campaigns. History teaches powerful lessons, and analytics are a primary tool for learning those lessons.

Mike provides one of the best closing statements I’ve heard about online marketing. “If you say to yourself that you are working on search optimization because you believe it will make you money, that’s not a business, that’s a religion. Instead, put search on the same footing as every other business decision and optimize your business instead of your search campaign.”

Amen, brother.