What is business intelligence?
Think of business intelligence (BI) like a data-driven support system for making informed decisions. Essentially, BI refers to the tools and methods used to collect, cleanse, analyse and report on data in real time for everything from sales to marketing activities over time. It makes it easier for businesses to make informed decisions on the progress or effectiveness of products, services, processes and strategies.
For example, a BI tool may collect customer behaviour to clearly show any patterns in how they buy or interact with your business. BI is often how businesses will create reporting dashboards to communicate the effectiveness of different products and services to their clients.
How is business intelligence different to data analytics?
The main difference between business intelligence (BI) and data analytics is best described by CEO and Founder of Big Data-Startups, Mark Van Rijmenam.
“The difference between business intelligence and data analytics lies in the fact that business intelligence helps in making business decisions based on past results, while data analytics is making predictions that are going to help you in the future.”
Basically, BI looks at the history of data in real time to create easy-to-read reports to make business decisions. On the other hand, data analytics helps determine future trends to innovate operations but it may take a skilled eye and mind to work it out.
A good example is Google Analytics. This tool tends to be defined as data analytics as it does not clearly display the value of activities. The report we at Localsearch create for our Google Ads clients cleanses analytics statistics using BI to make everything clear and easy to read.
What are the benefits of business intelligence for digital marketing?
– Receive real-time analytics.
– Know where you can cut costs (or invest more).
– Save time on generating reports.
– Eliminate the guesswork.
– Learn more about your customers.
See below for specific benefits of each.
Receive Real-Time Analytics
Business intelligence tools give you real-time reports on the progress of whatever you’re tracking. Not only will this mean you can adjust your strategies at any time, it means not having to wait until the end of a week, month, quarter, or whenever other programs deliver reports.
Receiving real-time analytics also allows you to give your customers information when they ask for it, which gives them a better experience with your business. Using our own Localsearch business profiles as an example; at any time, we can report on the number of people who have visited a profile, what they’ve clicked on, if they’ve called, etc.
Giving your customer experience team access to business intelligence tools also provides them with what they need to effectively do their job. When their job is done right, it improves customer satisfaction, as well as provides your staff with a sense of empowerment. And a sense of empowerment and responsibility can only mean good things, as you can learn in our article, The Key to Amazing Organisational Culture.
Know Where You Can Cut Costs (Or Invest More)
The real value in business intelligence tools is you can see exactly where things are running effectively. As BI tools compare stats over time, you can see where different activities, products or services hold value for prolonged time periods. Those which don’t, even when efforts are made to improve results, may be worth letting go.
The latter is that you also see what is working well. You may choose to invest more into these to increase results, which you wouldn’t of known about other than seeing the data with your own eyes.
Save Time on Report Generation
Who has the time to sift through data, work out calculations and everything you need to generate a report. And where there is human effort, there is always the risk of error—it’s a part of life.
Using business intelligence tools lets you sit back and watch the software do the hard work for you. Even better is that most reports or dashboards update as you refresh them, giving you pretty much live data.
Eliminate the Guesswork
You can alter what results your business intelligence tools find for you. Maybe you want to see the number of first-time and returning visitors to your website, how many of those called you and how many left your website after 1 minute or less. To you, perhaps a successful return on investment would be how many people call you in 1 to 2 visits. Your business intelligence tool can be set up to do this for you.
For us and our products, we ensure you can see how many people see an ad, website or whatever it is you have. Then, we add in how many people click on links, contact you and a host of other activities. We can also compare how you stack up against your competition by entering different spend rates and what the outcome would have been.
Learn More About Your Customers
Digital marketing relies on knowing who your customers are, what they do and don’t like, and how they behave online. When setup correctly, BI tools can give you the data you need to know who to target where.
Imagine believing your online demographic was women between the ages of 20 and 35 because that’s who shops in-store just to find out it was men between the ages of 45 and 60. If you had targeted your female demographic, you may have got some results, but not as many as you may do with your male audience, in this example.
Should you use business intelligence tools?
In short, everyone should be using some sort of reporting software. Whether it’s to keep track of your sales processes, target demographic or how you stack up next to your competitor down the street, you should be keeping an eye on how you’re travelling. Business intelligence tools simply make it easier and quicker, therefore more cost effective, to get the data you need.
It’s also important to ensure any digital marketing services you enlist to help you grow your business can provide data of their results. At any time, you should be able to call your digital marketing service and request an update, or at the minimum, receive regular reports. If you can’t, it may be time to change.