The most-cited difficulty reported by marketers is interpreting customer data and understanding the moment’s needs, as cited by a majority (54%) of respondents. Close behind, some 53% say that they face obstacles in creating personalized advertising experiences. And half are challenged by driving insights from customer data, a common challenge for marketers. This is the most significant gap between bad and good marketers.
One of the areas where I get a lot of work is marketing data analysis. I often get reports containing hundreds of pages, and I’m asked to deliver actionable insights from the data. This is especially true when it comes to online marketing metrics. According to the latest research, two-thirds of CMOs are drowning in marketing data.
While many companies tout the criticality of consumer data across areas, from predicting future purchases to customer churn, the reality is that more than 4 out of 5 marketing executives report difficulty in making data-driven decisions despite all of the consumer data at their disposal. The exact number of respondents (84%) say their ability to predict consumer behavior feels like guesswork.
Consumer spending habits have changed, but for marketers to stay on top of these changes, they need insights that can be acted upon with a sense of urgency. Marketers have a LOT of data in their inboxes, but too many don’t have the skills or time actually to understand the story the data tells them.
The volume of data needed to hand off a single lead into sales, generate conversion, and become a customer is staggering. Repeat that a couple hundred or thousand times and account for data associated with other processes, such as human resources and inventory, and it’s enough to make the mind swirl.
But there are other reasons why data can be overwhelming. Some of them include the following:
1ne: Data may exist in many places, creating silos. When data exists across multiple systems or channels, it doesn’t work together. It endangers you from making decisions on only part of the story relevant to your customers or business. Also, it means you must manually piece together bits of the story, which takes a lot of time.
2wo: Raw data isn’t helpful for most business processes. Data isn’t always immediately applicable, even when gathered in one location. Unstructured data, which isn’t organized according to specific schema or modeling, doesn’t typically fit in most applications or allow for business use. And even when data is structured, you need special skills or tools to format it into something useful.
3hree: Not all data is the correct data. You also need to know how to cull the information you don’t need from the critical data in various scenarios. This requires software tools and report-writing skills.
What can we do instead of managing the data?
We could be focusing on inspiration and creativity. Approximately 70% of a successful brand campaign is driven by the creative. Harvard Business Review has confirmed this: more creative campaigns are considerably more effective. And now more than ever in the digital age, creative ideas must be strong enough to inspire all along the campaign life cycle.
It’s not just the creative that can get shortchanged when a marketer spends too many hours wrangling the data. It’s the creative aspect of reaching your audiences that also suffers. It’s hard to be strategic and innovative about getting the right message across to the right people when instead, you’re putting together data reports most of the day.
Having a lot of data is fantastic, but knowing where to start or what to do with it can take time and effort. That’s why optimization is critical to unlocking the full potential of your information and getting the results you need.
Data does NOT necessarily represent your target market. The problem with most data is that it’s composed of what happened in the past. To understand what’s happening now, you need to get your ass out of the office and ride with salespeople to talk to buyers for the category. You also need to visit retailers and watch how people shop and your product is merchandised.
Don’t drown in data. Act on it and act quickly. Learn what’s actionable and what tells you what you already should know.