Yet Analytics Blog

Allie Tscheulin By Allie Tscheulin • December 6, 2017

What HR Can Learn from Marketing and Sales Analytics

 If you search “big data and marketing analytics”, Google will return over 25 MILLION results. By comparison, if you search “big data and HR analytics”, Google will return just over 1 million results. If you’ve ever received a perfectly targeted ad, you know firsthand that marketing organizations are quite accomplished at transforming big data into usable, meaningful insights.

We have more data about people and their interactions with our organizations than ever before, and marketers are particularly effective at harnessing this data to reduce customer acquisition costs and improve the customer experience. Sales and marketing teams are able to measure every step of the buyer’s journey. For every prospective customer, we’re able to know a lot about who they are and what they’ve done to get to us.

In the same way that marketing organizations have leveraged this big data to the benefit of their customers, HR organizations too can harness the big data of their people to benefit their business.

How Marketing and Sales Teams Use People Data

Marketing teams focus on data about consumer engagement with marketing content. When they send a mass email, marketers can see what emails were opened, marked unread, and ignored. They monitor interactions across web content to see what topics are most attractive to users, leads, and clients and then use that data to specifically target the next display ad or content, presenting a tailored experience for the potential buyer and increasing campaign performance. With granular activity tracking and analytics, marketers apply data to put the most relevant and timely information in front of each consumer to increase the likelihood that they will make a purchase.

Sales teams also use interaction data to understand how to best convert leads into happy customers. They know how many emails were sent, how many phone calls were logged, and can use that information to identify the interaction pattern and content that leads to the most frequent response rates. Using data, sales teams can create and continually refine a repeatable sales process that is most likely to result in new business and growing recurring revenue.

Both of these departments use traditional processes along with technologies that generate tons of data about people. Sales and marketing analytics weren’t always this sophisticated –when marketers first started using data to personalize the consumer experience, the only data they had access to were estimates of consumer cohort attributes. For example, a marketing campaign could loosely target “households with incomes greater than $100,000”, or place ads on content with an estimated audience of “70%+ female” or “50%+ Hispanic”.

Marketing and sales analytics have evolved with technology. Tools like Hubspot and Salesforce turn every interaction in the buyer’s journey into activity data at the individual level. Previously generalized information is quantified down to real-time individual activity, enabling sales and marketing to identify and replicate patterns of success while delivering a personalized user experience.

Similar to the evolution of marketing and sales analytics, HR analytics is fast approaching a tipping point. Soon augmenting the attribute data about who our employees are with activity data about what our team members do will become common best practice for producing a more powerful and personalized employee experience.


Traditional People Analytics

Collecting, connecting, and applying data analytics about activity enables marketing and sales teams to better predict what to do and when to do it. By incorporating activity data into their HR data strategy, HR leaders are poised to make the same shift.

The difference between analytics in HR and analytics in other departments is that analytics in HR are all about static values. Analytics in marketing and sales are about measuring the activities of customers and leads in order to customize that experience in real time. For most organizations, HR analytics are only about the attributes that describe who employees are demographically.

Traditional HR organizations look for qualities, characteristics, or patterns that make talent the right fit for a particular role. Through the identification of these certain attributes, the hiring team is able to recruit the right type of people, and the HR team is able to promote the right type of managers and leaders. The “right type” is often an organization specific average sum of years of qualitative data — 3-5 years of experience, prior role at Fortune 500 company, sales experience in specific industry, manager of 2 people, positive reviews from peers. But, each of these attributes only reflects a snapshot in time — they reflect who your people are at the moment they were hired, based on the checklist of attributes your organization requires.

In order to modernize HR programs and training experiences, we’ll need to move beyond headcounts and completions. You know your team members are more than demographics, promotion breakdowns, compliance and diversity statistics — they are a sum of their complete experience at your organization, a person that is constantly evolving and growing in their ability to contribute. That ongoing, day-to-day activity needs to be part of the equation.

Modern People Analytics for HR

In order to move HR analytics from emphasis on attributes to analytics on activities, HR leaders need to rethink where the data they rely on comes from and how it is collected.

Attribute data is defined at the hiring date and updated annually, allowing you to put people into buckets, check off the requirements, and understand the demographic breakdown of your organization. Activity data is generated automatically by the tools and technologies your team members use while they work and brings together an up to date picture of who your team members are each and every day.

By unifying your technology ecosystem, HR can move from basing decisions on the attributes of what people were to real-time analytics on the activity of what your people do every day.


Collecting and connecting this data allows HR leaders to not only see current trends, but as more and more of this activity data is collected, HR leaders are able to establish and define patterns of experience that lead to success in the organization, identify high potential employees, and create customized employee journeys for career pathing — all driven by the data from their own people.

With a modern approach to people analytics, your HR team will be able to bring their data to the table to drive results across the organization.

Interested in learning more? Read our post about Identifying High Potential Employees with xAPI or Real-time Unified Reporting for HR with Yet Analytics and the Experience API, or check out more resources here.

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