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Marketing and the ‘Big Data’ Conundrum

Data Transfer CMO Centre

Marketing and the ‘Big Data’ Conundrum

Why we shouldn’t forget to look after our data..

Until the advent of the Internet, Marketing was all about the brand, product awareness and sales promotions. The wider you could spread your message to the masses, the better.  It reminds me of the old Proctor & Gamble quote,   “I know that 50% or my marketing budget works, I just don’t know which 50%.”

It’s all change now, as B2B marketers, even we have to think about the segment of one, marketing to the individual people within our target accounts. We need to recognise as much as possible that every business is different and every person within that business is different and that if we can just understand that and send the right messages to the right people at the right time – they will respond and buy our products. All sounds so easy, but ……and there is always a but……..

Getting one to one marketing right relies on having a full 360 degree understanding of our customers and prospects, which relies on that word marketers hate to hear…….DATA. Access to volumes of internally and externally generated data about our target market businesses that we can use to improve our marketing.

Data is not just for the product people, for operations, for customer service people. Data is absolutely needed by B2B marketing and demand generation. Marketing requires access to great data to deliver great marketing. The data is required to prove that their marketing is achieving what it should. Marketing requires ‘Big Data’ on an ongoing basis to keep delivering results– because nothing stays the same and our customers are always changing.

In the past marketers have not been great data people, they are strategic, creative, organised, planners. Now as marketers we also need to be data analysts, data scientists and technology experts.  We need to be hybrids – or at least our teams need to be built around a mix of the more traditional strategic, creative and organisational marketing skills with analytical, decision marketing and technology based skills added in.

Data for marketing needs to be:

  • Clean – up to date, no duplicates.
  • Relevant – to the use we need it for.
  • Timely – increasingly real-time or at least near real time.
  • Appropriate – collected with the privacy of our customers in mind – we must act responsibly with customer data.
  • Secure – to meet data privacy standards and secure to the business (data is a valuable asset)
  • Accessible – to the marketing tools we have available.
  • Manageable – answers need to be delivered in real time or near real time so systems need to be able to cope with volume processing.

The good news for marketing is that data has never been so available.

Processing power is getting cheaper all the time so we can analyse all of the data and be really accurate. B2B Marketing automation solutions are readily available and can be put in place to analyse the data for us to drive & automate marketing next-best action decisions. The bad news is that privacy issues and security around holding data are becoming ever more stringent and complex and we need to ensure that we have delivered best practise throughout.

The good outweighs the bad however and there is a clear view that by better targeting our marketing to the right people at the right time, those people recognise the value and the results achieved through data-based marketing are better – more cost effective, more measurable, more visible and always result in even more data….

Recent McKinsey research on the data analytics revolution reports that the most successful businesses are establishing centres of data excellence where using data analytics effectively can drive a dramatic impact on marketing within the organisation.  They note that two elements are key to the successful adoption of data within marketing. Firstly the increasing automation of repetitive analytics driven from lead scoring tools that delivers results directly to marketing campaign management solutions. Secondly, training, ensuring that marketing teams are proficient in the use of data for marketing and able to understand and interpret the results of data analysis.

There are some good reports available to help marketers understand the value of big data to them from experts like McKinsey, econsultancy and some great case studies of businesses that do it well. Many businesses have examples of using data well in one channel but the challenge is increasingly to blend data from multiple channels and ensure consistency of communication across channels to customers and prospects. The only way to do this is to accurately track what messages are being sent and received by each person in a business via which channel and respond through the channel of choice. If a prospect only responds to messages via social media then it is appropriate to approach them via this channel.

There is a need for technology platforms to help us get the best out of all the data we increasingly have accessible to us. We need systems and processes.. to help us manage the complexity of data legislation and best practice. We need intelligence.. to ensure that we deliver the best marketing through the best channels to the right people at the right times consistently. As marketers we still need to be creative (even more so than ever) and organised to ensure that our messages get heard above the others by our target audiences and when they want to hear from us – it all sounds so simple…… 🙂

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