The following blog is the second in a series that explores the concept of the consumer-brand data driven value exchange and why it is more important today than ever before. Read part 1 here.
“If you do not see data as exciting, valuable and empowering then you are not a modern marketer.” – eConsultancy.
As outlined in our last post, marketing has evolved from a transaction-based interaction largely dictated by the seller to a bidirectional exchange of value initiated by the buyer. Whereas managing the consumer purchase cycle was once a relatively straightforward process, marketers’ success in attracting, engaging and retaining consumers today is far more complex and largely predicated on the successful collection, management, interpretation and application of data.
Yet to date, research has shown that marketers have not yet managed to translate data into better experiences. According to a recent eConsultancy study, 98% of marketers believe data is important or critical to making sense of the customer journey, but less than 1/3 of those same respondents believe they are doing a good or excellent job of enhancing the journey based on data-driven insights.
So what’s going on?
Marketing Challenges of Data Management
Virtually every company faces organizational challenges when it comes to customer data. From disparate databases and ‘silo’ cultures to access and data hygiene issues, organizations are often their own worst enemy in making productive use of their data assets.
Which is why the CMO, as the senior executive most generally acknowledged as the voice-of-the-customer, is increasingly charged with tackling these larger strategic roadblocks.
But data is not only the responsibility of senior management. As the opening quote implies, data needs to be embraced by every modern marketer. It is the raw fuel that, when refined (via analytics), is able to power the superior customer experiences the consumers increasingly demand and deliver a better return on marketing investment.
This can and should be happening on the front line of marketing. With a few guidelines and best practices, every marketer can begin the process immediately.
Getting The Most From Your Data
Like all things that are ultimately valuable and worthwhile, leveraging data in the interest of more effective and efficient marketing requires effort. And while it may take some out of their comfort zone, doing so is an imperative in today’s environment.
The following are some key best practices to get true value from your data, even before the analytical process begins:
- Set clear goals: Any data-driven initiative needs to start with clear objectives. If you know precisely what you want to do with the data, you’ll have more success in identifying exactly what data matters to your analysis.
- Be intentional: Have a proactive, systematic plan for collecting data on an ongoing basis rather than taking an after-the-fact approach.
- Focus on customer-centricity: Collecting and analyzing data can be overwhelming. Select only data that can ultimately shed light on your customers to avoid being distracted by superfluous variables.
- Assess & integrate: Evaluate your data and be honest with yourself about its integrity in achieving your goals. Seek to fill gaps or enhance your existing data by integrating other relevant data from internal departments or third party sources.
- Quality, quality, quality: Data hygiene is absolutely imperative for proper analysis, especially if it forms the basis of strategic decisions and direction. Applying rigorous data quality processes at the outset will pay dividends in the output and resulting action.
- Apply exceptional governance: With data being a prized corporate asset and the foundation for competitive differentiation and advantage, it only makes sense to safeguard the collection, management, usage and disposal of it at the highest levels. However, consumers want to know (and believe) that their information is more than just secure; they want to understand exactly what is being collected, how it will be used to create better experiences, and importantly, how they can access or change their information if necessary.
Evan Wood, SVP Marketing & Custom Services, Environics Analytics