The Most Abused Word In Marketing

futurelab default header

The most abused word in marketing? It’s not “free”, “new”, or “improved” — it’s ANALYTICS.

MarketingProfs ran an article recently that contained the following sentence (Here’s a link to an article about the article. The original article requires registration, and, c’mon, whose got time for that? Not me, I have better things to waste my time on. Like this blog, for example):

Marketing analytics used to simply be about measuring the hits on your website and the number of opens and clicks on emails.”

Huh? Say what? Marketing analytics used to be about measuring website hits?

Gee, I always thought that was web analytics — not marketing analytics.

Not to burnish my image as an old guy, but I remember when marketing analytics referred to things like predictive modeling, attribution analysis, marketing spend optimization, and a whole host of other statistical — or, um, analytical — techniques that marketers used to measure marketing effectiveness.

In fact, what has passed as web analytics isn’t really analytics — it’s more like reporting.  But I’m not looking to pick a fight with the web analytics folks. Their misuse of the word analytics is just one example of the hijacking of this term.

Here’s another: A survey conducted by Accenture found that “60% of major decisions [made by companies] are based on analytics and 40% are not.” While the press release focuses on the reasons why the 40% didn’t rely on analytics, I can’t help but wonder what the 60% were thinking when they said they did rely on analytics.

My bet: They meant that they used data to inform their decision — and not that they used some form of statistical (or, um, analytical) technique.

Why does this matter? Because labels matter.

The history of business is filled with examples of managers getting funding for initiatives associated with some poorly-defined label (think reengineering, knowledge management, portals, and communities). And when these initiatives fail, it brings down the label with them.

And that’s what’s going to happen with analytics.

Original Post: