Data: Down and Dirty

January 23rd, 2014

Make the most of the mountains of data available to your company.

As consumers not only share more of their lives across social channels, but also drive millions of daily purchases and engage in trackable activity, we’re able to look into our customers’ lives like never before. But data collection is much more than simply aggregating numbers. For marketers, this data-driven world should theoretically open the door to opportunities – but we are learning it is creating just as many challenges.

In our last issue of Thinking, we talked about the importance of small businesses leveraging data to gain a competitive edge in the marketplace. We also mentioned how looking at the sheer volume and different types of data can be overwhelming without a clear focus. So we’ve provided three quick tips to help keep the data-driven marketer sane.

A recent  study  indicated that more than 70 percent of chief marketing officers (CMOs) feel they “lack true insight” and are underprepared to manage the explosion of data. Additionally, a 2011 CMO Council report found that CMOs are overwhelmed and under pressure to make sense of the endless volumes of data. Together, these reports suggest that CMOs are struggling to be able to convert data into consumer insight that can ultimately drive business performance.

Marketers are missing the opportunity for an end-to-end understanding of how to collect the right data, understand it, and then turn it into a growth-driven plan. Spend more time learning which data truly moves your business forward. The haystacks of data will continue to get bigger and bigger, but it’s essential you find the needles that are important to you and your business.

In this age of data, there is a serious risk of focusing all the attention on analysis and looking for that one metric that will reveal a silver bullet. CMOs face a real challenge of letting data divert their attention from focusing on the overall business strategy.

Juggling time, resources and budget between channel management and measurability has become a growing challenge for marketers. To be a successful data-driven marketer, you must remain focused on the strategy. It requires strategic thinking, prioritization and resources that ensure that smart plans are developed.  Despite the complexity and difficulty, the organizations that can figure this out will simply have a competitive advantage, and, for that reason, it’s worth the effort.

The CMO Survey reported that companies will spend between six and 10 percent more of their marketing budget on data over the next three years. Yet, when asked to report the percentage of projects in which their companies used that data, CMOs reported only a 30 percent usage rate. This enormous gap between investment and utilization means that most organizations are strictly focused on collecting data, not insights. But, as we know, it’s difficult to manage all of the new tasks that data is creating, so this leads to opportunities to find partners that can help not only juggle these tasks, but also help you understand the insights from it.

This may mean partnering with an outside consultant or agency, but the key is to help find a translator for all of this information. These partners are critical to extracting actionable insights from the noise, and identify the right driving forces behind a great campaign performance.

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