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How Online Marketing Teaches Companies to Compete on Analytics

Sometimes the limits on a process or a trend is not technological, but the ability of organizations to change their fundamental thinking about how they make decisions. Companies that start this kind of thinking can succeed in ways that before were possible only when growing rapidly in a new market.

This is the essential message of Competing on Analytics. Like many books that come from the Accenture talent mill (Jeane Harris is a fellow at one of Accenture’s institutes), aspects of the book are maddeningly vague and glib, but I don’t disagree with this key assertion. In my experience in the mortgage, online publishing, and pharmaceutical industry, I found that the tools to do sophisticated analytics were in place and well established as a supported tool by their IT group, yet the companies had very different levels of sophistication in adopting them for strategic business-making decisions.

Whether or not the company participated in active online marketing seemed to be a factor in whether or not analytics were used at an isolated, departmental level or across the organization. For example, the most analytically focused mortgage company I ever worked with also happened to be an innovator in online marketing. The company was one of the first to use an interactive website to manage rate locks for mortgage brokers. This service was incredibly profitable and also allowed them to project their metrics throughout the mortgage cycle, from initial rate locks through resale of the mortgages on the secondary market.

We don’t think it is a coincidence that a firm’s commitment to analytics would be associated with their reliance on their website to address real business needs.
Websites that are closely tied to an organization’s core business provide unprecedented detail about user behavior. This ease of measurement in turn invites companies to consider metrics as part of their daily practices and strategic operations, often with radically profitable results.

In this way, as in so many others, online marketing changes everything.

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One Response to "How Online Marketing Teaches Companies to Compete on Analytics"

  • Kai Blum
    December 7, 2007 - 8:50 pm Reply

    Smart use of analytics not only allows organizations to measure what works and to identify what could be improved, it can also serve as a source of ideas for new products and services. Combining analysis and creativity is key to online marketing success. However, in many organizations, there’s still a disconnect between these two elements.

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