The Challenges of Advanced Data-Driven Marketing in Big Brands
Fred Wahlqvist originally wrote this article for Advertising Week 360.
Today’s online digital ecosystem presents a host of opportunities for the savvy brand to capitalise on. We live in a digital age, where data is the new currency of our time.
But while adopting a vision and a programme for data-driven marketing is top of the agenda for most CMOs, many companies still struggle to understand their marketing attribution across the entire online ecosystem.
According to research from Forbes, unstructured data is a problem for 95% of businesses. For large brands, in particular, these challenges are disproportionately exacerbated.
In large companies, the risks of not having centralised data are equally compounded. An executive survey on ‘Data and AI’, conducted by NewVantage Partners, polled 64 C-suite level organizations, including American Express, Ford Motor and Johnson & Johnson, among others. The study found that 72% of organisations have yet to forge a data-driven culture, while 53% admit they are not yet treating data as a business asset.
For large organisations, the sheer volume of data collected, the multitude of channels in use and the number of external agencies managing these platforms makes arriving at a clear vision challenging.
Thankfully, though, it doesn’t have to be this way.
By taking a step back and arriving at a central point of view, brands can own their own data, better understand ROI and make smarter decisions around how to activate it.
Making sense of data-driven campaigns
For large organisations, making sense of complex data-driven marketing campaigns from a wider, more holistic view can prove incredibly challenging.
There are a few reasons why this tends to be the case.
First, large companies are often departmental, which means that poor internal communication and a lack of data sharing across party lines can slow down a brand’s ability to interpret and decipher the information.
Next, bigger brands often rely on external agencies to guide their data-driven marketing decisions. This makes perfect sense since agencies are usually experts in their field. However, brands need to find an agency partner that knows how to correctly manage and monitor KPIs.
In the traditional model, there can sometimes be too many cooks in the kitchen. When large brands that have a multitude of agencies working for them, whether that’s an e-CRM partner, a third-party content agency or a paid search consultancy, there needs to be a central partner that can align these insights into one clear and compelling vision.
Without this central point of view, it’s possible that a lack of ownership can be compounded across the marketing function. Finding a partner that can implement a clear, coherent and consistent data-driven strategy that makes use of data across the entire agency ecosystem is key.
This will help large organisations make sense of the data at their disposal, which in turn enables the delivery of more effective marketing campaigns.
How to become a data-driven brand
To become more data-driven, brands need to standardise the way that external agencies talk with each other, so they can start comparing apples to apples – not apples to pears.
To make use of this approach and improve data efficiencies, brands need to do two things:
- Understand what insights they need to monitor and collect in order to be more data-informed
- Learn how to activate these insights to make smarter data-driven decisions that will benefit the bottom line
With this strategy, brands can move in the right direction and take increased ownership of their own data generation. The benefits of this are twofold. First, it allows for the centralisation of data into one coherent hub. Second, it will enable the organisation to produce smarter insights that can clearly identify where, how and why marketing spend should be increased (or decreased).
When brands adopt a centralised data strategy, it’s then possible to:
- Examine data and campaign performance through one consistent lens
- Identify which aspects of marketing spend are driving the most effective performance
- Focus more on desired outcomes rather than vanity metrics (i.e. stop measuring clicks and impressions if what you’re really after is behaviour and conversions)
- Dial-up spend in the channels and platforms that are producing the best results and turn down spend in areas that are proving less effective
- Continue to test, learn and monitor campaigns so that constant improvements can be made
Collectively, all of the above will enable a smarter understanding of big data across the entire business ecosystem. When understanding is paired with strategy, then brands can execute marketing campaigns that see much stronger results.
Arriving at a central point of view – why brands need to understand ROI and how to activate it
When brands don’t understand what they spend in marketing, they can’t understand the effectiveness and efficiency of that spend.
This has a cascading effect on multiple areas of the business, which can lead to poor marketing and sales performance. To avoid these pitfalls, brands need to arrive at a central point of view that will connect different marketing functions together (for example: paid media with website behaviours) in a way that is simple and easy to understand.
In doing so, brands can take ownership of their marketing data and begin to make sense of performance at a granular level. This means understanding things like customer intent, behaviours, costs and inferred demographics.
With all of these insights in tow, brands can then create an advanced data-driven programme that reveals ROI and informs smarter decisions based on verifiable data measures. Finding an agency partner that can assist in this transformation will help accelerate change and lead to a more robust data-driven business strategy.
As our world becomes ever more digitised, being able to make sense of this complex ecosystem and arrive at a clear, central point of view will enable certain brands to excel while others stagnate or decline. According to Accenture, 79% of business executives now say failing to embrace big data will cause them to risk competitive extinction.
Remember, you may have a great website, strong digital marketing or powerful eCRM re-engagement. But unless you know how to engage and refine your digital ecosystem with data at the heart, then you can’t say you’re truly data-driven.
Ultimately, that is where the power truly lies.