Looking at the future of analytics, a couple of experts in the field, shared with us their predictions for the upcoming year.

B.L. Ochman, founder of whatsnextonline.com and publisher of What’s Next Blog

We are more than a dozen years into the new media age, and all the tools of marketing have to be used in a way that is ROI-based and measured with meaningful analytics.

Those analytics need to be about engagement, not just numbers of fans. The widespread practice that really needs to be obliterated is paying community managers for the number of fans, Like, follows and comments their work generates. 

What is important is how often people who like the brand come back, make purchases, and recommend the company. Studies have shown that less than 5% of people who are foced to “Like” a brand to enter a contest or receive a promotion ever come back. Just like you can’t make people like you offline, you can’t make them like you online and expect any financial reward.

John Gagnon, Bing Ads Evangelist for SMBs

There is no doubt 2012 was the year of mobile again. A lesser known industry detail is when you hear the term “mobile” in reports, it includes both smartphones and tablets.  Smart marketers will kick off 2013 addressing their tablet strategy first.  Why?  

The easy win.  People use tablets a lot like laptops.  In search campaigns, tablets perform much more like traditional PC search than smartphones – both in conversion rates and website engagement.  This means breaking out a tablet-only search campaign may not be necessary.

Ellie Edwards-Scott, MD of QUISMA UK 

Intelligent analytics will continue to be a cornerstone of any effective marketing campaign throughout 2013. For years, search optimisation has been a focus for brands wanting to boost their online presence, but over the past 12 months we have witnessed a shift to using even more sophisticated multi-channel tracking tools which measure customers online journey and more importantly their path to conversion. 

Agency trading desks now have so much data at their disposal that their particular USP in 2013 will be in their ability to disseminate, collate and make decisions using sophisticated analytical tools to better advise brand decision-making. 

Mark Fidelman, CEO of Evolve!

As more and more data is generated by companies and their customers and partners, organizations will need to make sense of that data in order to maximize its return. Smart companies will deploy tools that help their employees receive data on demand and in the proper context. Picture receiving an email from a prospective customer and learning that they like to ski, shoot billiards and frequent a restaurant nearby. That’s potentially actionable information your employees can use.

Rob Schmults, SVP Strategic Partnerships, Intent Media 

Retailers’ notion of analytics will increasingly evolve beyond after-the-fact analysis to encompass predictive “decisioning.” Logging behaviors to retrospectively place a customer in a segment will still be valuable for e-mail and behavioral targeting. But making smart decisions in real-time requires predictive analytics. 

Scoring every visitor based on a predictive model can determine whether to offer a promo or not, which products to feature, and which non-product calls to action to show. All these decisions can and should be visitor based. The result will be a shift from predominately backward looking analysis to real-time, data driven decisions.

Shiraz Datta, Lead – Marketing CRM and Business Intelligence at Nokia

With the emergence of the digital space and most of selling/buying moving digital, companies are ensuring their digital presence through major spends. 

Though, companies across the globe seem to be struggling in cracking the data code (or information) collected through various structured and unstructured customer data, which is limiting their ability to target their consumers based on intelligence.  

Therefore, while companies will keep investing on their digital presence, they need to invest in understanding the data and converting into an actionable intelligence to drastically improve customer satisfaction, loyalty, and ultimately profit.

Paul Miller, CEO of UBM Tech

For B2B media companies, analytics will become the key area of focus in 2013. Insight and intelligence related to the audience database and the trusted relationship with media brands will enable ever sophisticated behavioral targeting of decision makers with the right message at the right time. 2013 will see entire company employee populations with similar access to dashboards and insights into audience behavior and interactions. 

Increasingly these insights will lead to consulting and agency-like services and a merging of insight into behaviors within a media companies brands and elsewhere across the web – Add these online analytics to a wealth of information on how people behave and interact at events, across social media and the prospects for those who get this right are enormous.

Maxifier CEO, Anthony Katsur

As more and more data becomes available, companies need the ability to go beyond simply the insight that analytics can throw up and be able to add real value by making this actionable. If you’re measuring things and can’t do anything about it, then it has little value.  For example, the growing interest around viewable impressions as a brand metric for online advertising is interesting, but what’s needed is the ability to action against this and optimize campaigns to viewable impressions.

And here are a couple of non-Facebook related predictions for search:

Diane Kegley, CMO of RichRelevance

Consumers are shopping anywhere, anytime and on the go, and this shift in consumer mindset and attitude has promulgated the concept of online show rooming.  Consumers no longer need to visit a bricks and mortar store when they can see products and prices across many sites simultaneously, because of the way search engines deliver results.  

Therefore, it’s incumbent upon retailers to dynamically capture and delight consumers as soon as they land on the retail site—especially if they have landed from a search result.

Andrew Delamarter, Director of Search Marketing at Huge

Smart brands are transitioning from siloed search marketing and SEO to a new, holistic inbound marketing approach. This involves determining your search keyword strategy, competitive situation and current performance, relative to core Web and local search, content, analytics, social media engagement and authority, knowledge graph contribution, and holistic management processes. 

Companies should outline an ideal future state and find the gaps between where they are and where they need to be. Imagine an organization where nobody says, ‘That’s not my job,’ and your marketing and digital presence moves as fast as the environment changes.  Build a roadmap, get resources, and hire someone in an Inbound Marketing Analyst role to take ownership and execute the strategy.