Today’s marketers love data, but they’re shaky about how to use it.
While 42 percent of marketers agree big data is their top priority for 2015, a meager 14 percent of them feel confident about using data effectively, according to a recent Millward Brown Digital study of 400 U.S. brand marketers. A March 2015 Infogroup study found similar results: While 53 percent of surveyed marketers desire more detailed customer data, only 21 percent said they are “very confident” in the veracity of their customer profiles.
Many marketers are trained to work with words and aesthetics, but the growing significance of big data is forcing them to think like data scientists — a mindset many aren’t comfortable with.
CEOs, if you want an effective, modern marketing department, you need to improve your marketers’ confidence in their big data.
The Marketer’s Challenge
Marketers’ annual spending on big data tops $50 billion, but throwing money at more tools isn’t the answer. The average marketer uses 12 data tools — 9.1 percent use 31 or more — but 61 percent of marketers want more integrated tools and more experienced data professionals. There are simply too many tools and too few people who know how to use them.
Using multiple data platforms leads to siloed data, as one company’s software rarely communicates well with other companies’ tools. Analytics tools for web, apps, social, mobile, and CRM all must be leveraged together to get a clear picture of consumer behavior.
There are also disagreements about which data is most significant. For example, many companies think brand search is the highest-performing channel they have, but the brand keyword is often the last event in a consumer’s clickstream before a purchase. This obscures the true value of other marketing efforts. An unknown proportion of clicks actually stem from contributing events like sponsored Facebook posts, promotional emails, or retargeting banners consumers see but don’t click.
Assessing Your Team
To find out where your marketers stand on utilizing data, ask them to present data visually and coherently. An endless stream of statistics isn’t nearly as useful to a CMO or CEO as easy-to-interpret pie charts and graphs.
Then, ask if they can recommend changes based on data. Can they follow graphics, charts, and tools with recommended actions? Confident marketers can paint a complete picture of the data, the pursuant actions, and the expected outcomes.
Boosting Your Marketers’ Confidence
If your marketers are struggling to use collected data, there are a few things you can do to help:
- Make room in the budget. Data science is a full-time job; even the best marketers can easily get in over their heads. Give your marketing department the budget to hire analysts who can effectively manipulate tools, mine the data, and interpret the results. A dedicated expert can close the knowledge gap and dramatically improve marketing efforts.
- Create a dashboard. Thousands of data points can be overwhelming, and it’s easy to get lost in details that aren’t relevant to the immediate goal. Automated software can map important data points for your team. This software can be created in-house, or you can use outside tools like Klipfolio or Tableau.
- Utilize analytics and attribution. If you have the resources, contact your attribution or analytics team to validate the data you’ve collected. Better yet, use test and control groups to create baselines, and then measure which metrics can be improved (use A/B testing). If the analytics team can validate your data, you won’t have to prove its legitimacy every time you gather new information.
You hired your marketers because they’re good at marketing — not because they’re professional data analysts. But with the right resources, they, too, can summit the big data mountain.
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By Deren Baker, CEO of Jumpshot.