This article is written by Amanda Kite, our Insight Consultant at Data Cubed. 

According to Gartner’s 2019-2020 CMO spend survey, 76% of marketing leaders say they use data and analysis to drive key decisions. So the days of making marketing decisions based on gut feel are long gone, aren’t they…? In fact, in the same Gartner study, CMOs identified their top critical priorities for spend as insight and analytics, indicating that they are still on their journey to being truly data driven.

With the evolution of the digital world and the huge impact of COVID-19, the challenges (and opportunities) for marketing to use data to understand their customers is bigger than ever. Some examples are:

  • Marketing is no longer just about promoting and selling products and services – it is also about building meaningful relationships with customers.
  • Customers having higher expectations than ever before. They expect a flawless service, tailored to them as an individual.
  • The sales funnel and customer journey is changing – it’s becoming a lot more complex with many more touchpoints.
  • It’s getting harder to predict how customers wants, needs, expectations and purchasing decisions will evolve.
  • There’s increasing pressure to demonstrate the tangible returns (ROI) of marketing activity.

To face these challenges, data from all customer touchpoints should be analysed and interpreted, but this too has its challenges:

  • The data needed to fully understand the customer journey and relationships is commonly spread around the business in different formats and often in incompatible legacy systems. 
  • The data typically has gaps and inaccuracies – it’s often in a mess!
  • Members of the marketing team are often working on siloed reports that don’t join up to create a full picture.
  • Marketing leads are increasingly recruiting marketing analysts but it’s usually not possible to get all the data skills required.
  • Support from IT is often needed but there can be resource issues and problems with a lack of marketing knowledge.

In an ideal world, a full picture of prospects and customers would be created by combining, consolidating, analysing, and interpreting data from all around the business. This would lead to one 360o customer view which could be used for descriptive and predictive analytics. However, for some companies at the start of their data journey, this route is just too ambitious at the outset. In this case it’s better to get some quick wins that can lead to actions by concentrating on data that marketing has control of such as web analytics, email systems, social media, campaign tools, surveys, etc…  They can then begin the process of creating a marketing or digital marketing strategy that’s informed by data.

For marketing leaders to start on their data journey it can help to follow these steps:

  1. Identify business goals
  2. For each of these goals, identify the questions that need to be answered to inform them and drive ACTION!
  3. Create a measurement plan
  4. Identify all the relevant sources of data
  5. Identify the data resources and expertise required
  6. Decide how to consolidate and share both the data and its resulting insight
  7. Democratise the data – make sure everyone that needs to make marketing decision is trained to use the tool effectively and consistently to make informed decisions.

This is not a process that ends once the data has been shared, instead it needs to be continuously developed so that the success of any improvements can be measured and the strategy updated.

It’s a long road for marketing to be truly data driven. However, by identifying the skills and resources needed and breaking down the project into steps that can lead to actions and improvements, marketing teams can make progress on their journey.

Want to improve your marketing performance? Wondering how to measure the effectiveness of your marketing activities? Need help to become data-driven?

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