Why today’s marketers need data

Credit: IDGNS

Data is marketing's most precious commodity — now marketers need to leverage it.

The pace of doing business in today’s ultraconnected world has changed everything. From the way advertisements are bought, sold and displayed, to the way businesses market to their buyers, we’ve entered an entirely new era.

Although some get a bit weepy and nostalgic wishing for “the good old days,” these are exciting times for today’s leading companies. They’re even more thrilling for today’s disruptors.

In today’s marketing organizations, there’s an ongoing war. While there’s immense pressure on the marketing department — from the board — to completely understand the company's buyers, it has also been tasked with understanding the value of every marketing dollar spent. Now, more than ever, marketers are being challenged to display the impact they make on a business’s success or failure.

To do this, marketers need data.

If only it were that easy. You see, today’s marketing departments are dealing with a tremendous amount of complexity. That’s because of two reasons:

1. All-new marketing source systems are coming online at an alarming rate.

2. If marketers want to really understand their buyers’ behavior and how to better connect with them, it will be necessary to invest in many best-of-breed point solutions. This translates into a company’s marketing technology stack getting significantly larger than what we may have experienced even just a handful of years ago.

And if that wasn’t enough of a hurdle to clear, it gets worse. That’s because data isn’t always easy for marketers to get their arms around. Take, for example, the typical marketing campaign for a product launch. Likely an in-house team handles email blasts, search engine optimization and public relations efforts. Creative agencies get tasked with the messaging, collateral, website buildout and event organization. Then, media agencies take care of paid efforts across a variety of channels — TV, radio, digital, etc.

Because of this fractured approach, marketers don't always own all of the data relative to their activities. As you may have expected by now, all of it provides value as businesses try to understand their customers and their respective journeys. Here’s the kicker: When access is granted to data that the marketing department does not directly own, much of the time it’s not at the correct level of detail required to gain actionable insight.

Meanwhile, consumers are exposed to all of these campaign efforts and are, generally speaking, unaware of the idea of channels. In-market buyers simply interact with brands and expect that today’s businesses will engage with them on a segment-of-one basis. And the benchmark on quality and speed continues to rise.

This means that today’s marketers are plagued with a two-headed monster. First, they must figure out how they can do more with the budget and resources they are allocated. Second, they must figure out how to impact the business's bottom line by understanding how their efforts deliver an enriched customer experience, create awareness in a market and more.

It’s not uncommon to think of marketing VPs as MacGyvers, because they must be agile, adaptable and able to creatively work around their less-than-ideal surroundings.

There remains one constant in this situation, however. That is data. Without this precious commodity, today’s marketers are going to be left hobbled, unable to drive value for their companies. And they certainly won't have a chance to determine their contribution or return on investment.

It’s as simple as that.

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