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Survey reveals how marketing pros make data-based decisions

November 22, 2016 | By Joe Liebkind—Independent Technology Journalist

Marketing has become a data-driven function and its success hinges on whether marketing managers can reliably measure the effectiveness of their marketing initiatives. The key to achieving this lies in our ability to collate and analyze diverse datasets so we can make informed decisions based on quantifiable information.

Success, among today’s marketing pros, means improving the bottom line and deepening customer relationships, while keeping teams in tune with an evolving marketplace.

A recent study by Ascend2 surveyed some 50,000 marketing professionals in an attempt to address the hot topic of marketing data management, revealing how marketers currently compile and reference their various data sets.

Most important data management goals

The three most important goals of marketing data management are:

  • improving ROI measurability
  • improving data quality
  • increase data use/accessibility

Data addresses many of the challenges facing marketers.

ascend2Crafting and adapting a marketing strategy to changing circumstances can be difficult with a lack of data. Predicting and preparing effectively for negative trends becomes much harder with poor insights. Even reporting to senior management or investors without sufficient data can create additional obstacles to gaining support for further campaigns.

This is where data can provide a lot of support. Ascend2’s research has found that 54% of professionals believe that data helps marketers arrive at “more accurate decisions.” Marketing data management can help managers guide their activities through real life decisions and marketing scenarios.

“I speak with marketers all the time who tell me the same thing – if you’re really going to be agile with your messaging and distribution strategies, then you need the ability to see what’s happening, across all channels, at a glance,” said Ben Carpel, CEO of Cyfe, a solution for creating performance monitoring dashboards.

Managing successful strategy
Managing strategy is directly connected to data management. More efficient use of data enables marketing managers to access it and make informed decisions based on it, quickly and easily.

Roughly 60% of the Ascend2 respondents reported that their use of data makes substantial contributions to the success of their overall marketing activities. In contrast, only 40% of companies and professionals rated their work “somewhat unsuccessful” or “very unsuccessful.”

“With data coming from so many different places, it can be difficult for a company to develop a consolidated view and an integrated approach to cross-channel marketing,” wrote Kerry Reilly, Adobe Campaign’s director of product marketing, in a recent op-ed. “It requires too much data maneuvering, the data’s not always in sync, and there’s lots of room for error.”

Outsourcing data management
Producing and managing this data can be a complex task, requiring highly skilled and analytical talent. Many companies don’t have this niche expertise inside of their organizations, leading to heavy reliance on SaaS, outsourcing to service providers or embarking on long-winded hiring processes.

Results from the Ascend2 study indicate that a lot of data management is provided by third-party organizations, while 64% of companies outsource all or part of their marketing data management. Only 36% of businesses manage their own marketing data in-house.

The modern marketing function is in a state of flux, and emerging data solutions put pressure on marketing leaders to constantly adapt to changing requirements. Despite this uncertainty, it is crucial that business units have a clear understanding of where the responsibility for data lies.

This is a fundamental imperative in day-to-day management activities, as 54% of businesses allocate data management and analysis to their marketing departments, whereas the other 42% share it between departments or even only with IT department.

Effective data and resources
Nearly all companies in the same study (97%) agreed that the effective use of marketing data is increasing. Marketing data management is a trending topic, and it’s constantly evolving.

In some cases, marketing data is being used to maximize profitability. Earlier this year, McKinsey demonstrated how tweaking prices by 1%, as informed by smart data modeling of marketing trends, has the power to boost operating profits by 8.7%.

There are many advances in the world of resources and tools within the data management space, allowing marketers to get closer to the data and deeper into its quality. Access to real-time and predictive data is currently a trending demand.

“Real-time data is critically important. Otherwise, business leaders may be making decisions off data that is no longer relevant,” notes Suzanne Mumford, head of marketing for the Google Analytics 360 Suite. “The business landscape changes so quickly, and stale data may inadvertently lead to the wrong decision.”

Data-driven marketing wins
Data-driven strategies are becoming more popular in the world of marketing, yielding campaigns that are more calculated and therefore primed to deliver effective, measurable results.

Relying on data for marketing decisions makes for superior visibility, more strategic planning and a better-equipped team, which is transforming the strategic marketers’ approach.


JoeLiebkindJoe Liebkind is a Berlin-based writer. He has worked with startups in sales and marketing roles in Berlin and New York. Find him on Twitter.

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