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Top 5 Analytical Skills Marketers Need to be Successful

Written by: Vittorio Raimondi
Date: March 14, 2024

There have been numerous conversations about whether marketers need to have a certain degree of analytical skills. Marketing is not just the execution of campaigns; it’s also branding, creative, and strategy that sets the direction for brands. We believe a certain blend of art and science is needed to be successful, and some basic math skills are critical to making decisions. Data, after all, is the lifeblood of marketing, and marketers should be able to understand numbers and work with them.

We’ve collected a few analytical skills marketers need to be successful at their jobs:

1. Understanding statistical methodologies

Marketing professionals will be looking at lots of numbers, such as consumer segments, strengths of brand imagery, the importance of certain drivers, and barriers. They need to understand how stats indicate specific priorities, what they mean, how they’re calculated, and draw conclusions. Words like confidence level, statistical significance, and slope vs correlation all have important implications. And so do different methodologies such as regression vs structural equation vs decision tree modeling. Tools will help execute these complex calculations, but it’s essential to have a general understanding of what certain words mean and how different approaches work so that marketers can have meaningful conversations with your broader marketing and analytics team.

2. Be comfortable with simple algebra

This ties back to the earlier examples of the strength of drivers, barriers, etc. Remember how your math teachers said you would use algebra in your day-to-day? You may have frowned at them back in the day, but they were right. Marketers should not shy away from simple math – they need to be comfortable with numbers, understand nuances like the difference between percentage change vs percentage point, interpret numbers to explain what is happening, and be able to follow and (if needed) challenge other people’s math.

3. Spot trends and interpret them

Identifying trends in a data set and understanding when there is a small bump in a bigger trend vs. a new trend (a break from the past) will help marketers make better choices. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by data, they must be able to “filter out” data that is not relevant to the story and identify data points that validate or challenge the hypothesis. Is consumer recruitment dwindling because of a broader market trend, or is it specific to your solution/product? These are the kinds of questions marketers need to be able to answer. Interpreting these trends also facilitates an important conversation on historical data with the wider team and helps spot broader, longer-term trends.

4. Recognize implications and prioritize

When confronted with a wealth of data, it is crucial for marketers to sift through it and make informed decisions. This involves understanding the context, considering the potential implications, and making choices that align with your overall marketing strategy. Related to the previous point, a good marketer always has a brand story in mind and continuously validates it by rehearsing with other people and by seeking data points that either corroborate or change that story. It’s about turning data into actionable insights and crafting an interesting story.

For more on what data is just information and what is insight, read our article on the Greenbook blog:

5. Understand data visualization

Our last top skill is the ability to read/understand data and visualize data points. This comes in handy when there’s a need to explain findings to others. Marketers should be able to present data in a compelling yet simple way without trying to communicate too much at the same time; a good visualization is easy to understand and delivers the main takeaway quickly. Picking the right format and using colors consistently will help people understand the overall picture. Conversely, when someone is at the receiving end of a graph, they need to be able to interpret it correctly – graphs can be very misleading, especially when the data is expressed as percentages.

A final note

All in all, marketers need to use their brain’s creative and analytical sides in symbiosis. These skills are essential to gain the clarity and confidence needed to make important and informed decisions and back them up with data to gain senior leaders’ support. It’s a blend of art and science: it’s like the X and Y chromosomes that make up our DNA – art and science are the building blocks of the DNA of marketing. Neither art nor science alone will give you the deep insights to move consumers – having both can create something that moves consumer minds and behaviors.