Data topics for marketers

Data is at the core of marketing strategies in every organization. It’s the basis for insights to better understand target audiences and what makes marketing campaigns successful.

That is, if when saying data, we’re talking about quality data. Data that is complete, consistent, accurate, timely and available. These are the necessary conditions for any marketing department to make data the foundation of their strategy.

Low-quality data produces low-quality insights. Low-quality insights produce poor business decisions.

The good news

The good news is that, having properly managed and governed data will generate considerable improvements in conversion rates and ROI, the impact of improving data quality for marketers can be enormous, when using accurate and actionable data.

The bad news

The bad news is that, having properly managed and governed data is challenging and its impacts are directly reflected in campaigns that are negatively affected by low-quality or inaccurate data. These impacts are well known, and translate into wasted resources, decreased revenue, loss of customers, decreased customer satisfaction, low number of conversions, loss of budget, loss of confidence from the top management or damaged in brand reputation.

Data topics for marketers

When thinking about what should be the most critical data topics that concern marketers, there are a few that come quickly to mind and that are usually the most discussed.

  • Data Quality — Inherently, every organization knows that quality data leads to better results, with improved data quality, marketing campaigns have increased impact and effectiveness, high-quality data allows identifying areas of opportunity and identify those opportunities that can add the most value, allows to gain insights to identify which segments of customers to market to, how to market to them, knowing know what attracts, engages, and converts customers. Marketers that can effectively manage data quality have a competitive advantage, although proving the ROI before receiving additional budget to invest in improved data quality is the challenge, but it’s because of this challenge the organizations that that invest the time and budget to solve the problem will gain a competitive advantage.
  • Trust — When you don’t trust the process you don’t trust the output. Not knowing how data is collected and transformed, what rules govern it, what quality levels it has, it’s impossible to trust it. It’s only natural that when marketers can’t trust their data, they fear acting based on erroneous insight. This leads to intuition and gut-based decisions, making data-driven marketing a textbook buzzword.
  • Data Protection/Privacy — As more data privacy regulations and guidelines are put into place by governments, industries, and privacy organizations around the world, critical that marketers understand these regulations and follow them. Besides the organizations data, marketers have additional challenges/risks when sourcing third party data, namely, data provenance, and privacy.
  • Customer Data — The core of the marketing activity, and simultaneously the most affected with every data related issue, siloed data, duplicate records, incomplete data, creating numerous challenges resolving customer identity, connecting, and relating the multiple channels of customer interaction, such as website, mobile app, blogs, social apps, live chat, phone, email, in-store, etc. — Creating a single view of the customer, that allows a comprehensive insight into customer behaviour and preferences is most likely one of the hardest objectives to achieve.
  • Data Silos and Multiplying Channels — The common scenario if for organizations to have a combination of systems that store and process their data, and gathering data from these different systems, often through multiple channels, added to third party data and being able to analyse and retrieve insight from this data is a challenge that can easily delay and impair many marketing initiatives.

True Data Topics for Marketers

The topics above aren’t the topics I think should be on the table, the ones that deserve deep reflection, especially for marketing leaders.

Marketing teams must be sure that data they are using has the necessary quality, that is complete, consistent, accurate, timely and available when needed. That is being properly managed and governed to prevent driving campaigns in the wrong direction by erroneous insights.

This can sometimes be critical, if not fatal, the fast pace of business, in increasingly competitive and complex environments, allows for little to no errors, it doesn’t allow marketers to go back to make corrections. Get it right or risk serious damage.

Consider that data shouldn’t only be the concern of marketing. It must involve alignment from all areas of the organization. But considering the critical role of data in the marketing function, marketing must play and active and proactive role in this process.

Data is a critical corporate asset, and it’s a shared asset, who’s purpose is to create business value. The design of a wining data strategy must be oriented towards the organization’s strategic priorities and key business objectives, that should naturally include the marketing priorities and objectives.

From these priorities and objectives, part of the corporate data strategy, it’s possible to identify how data may be used to deliver them. These will be the business cases for the marketing data strategy, and they should be defined with clear, achievable objectives and involving as much as possible stakeholders that are aware of the importance and impact of data.

A clear business case, with well-defined data requirements, can easily be transformed into a focused and targeted initiative, where the impact and value of data can be clearly identified but that can also be evaluated from the business perspective.

Combining a set of metrics that can be linked to data governance with the business metrics to measure, not only the initial data-oriented initiative, but also the subsequent data-driven campaigns and communicating them across the organization — creating a success story — that even at a small scale will create the awareness and act as a motor to leverage the replication of that story.

The disconnects that still exist between marketing and IT departments, combined with the constantly changing of tools, systems and integrations can sometimes have a negative impact in this sort of initiative, it is therefore important for business to take the driver seat be able to drive and orient these initiatives, with the understanding that data initiatives, don’t have to be IT initiatives. It is the business who better knows what their problems and objectives are. The role of IT in this process is to find the right technology and support the business units in this journey.

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Jose Almeida

Jose Almeida

Data Consulting and Advisory MEA - Driving better insights through better data (www.josealmeidadc.com)