The Western Digital “Growing Role of Object Storage in Solving Unstructured Data Challenges” study revealed that unstructured data is growing between 40-60 percent per year. Rich media – audio, video, images, and research data, all of which are non-text data types – are leading the pack of data sources. All of this data falls into the category of unstructured data, or Big Data.
Executives participating in the Accenture study, “Big Success with Big Data” emphasized that to remain competitive companies need to actively embrace Big Data or “face extinction.” This explosion of data and more powerful data analytics-enabling technology has made it ever more imperative for organizations to be able to make faster and better analytically oriented evidence-based decisions.
With so much of today’s data related to customer and market behavior, Marketing organizations are in an excellent position to lead the charge for creating a data-driven marketing culture. Organizations that reflect this culture will be better positioned to leverage data to maximize its efforts and optimize Marketing investments. If you want to be able to transform into an analysis-action oriented company, you need to embrace a data-driven culture.
This is hard work with a solid pay-off. Data-driven organizations are able to:
- Act and react in a more agile manner
- Successfully attain business goals
- Maximize their efforts and marketing investments
So what is a data-driven culture and how do you create one? Let’s make sure we’re on the same page about culture and then dive how to create the data-driven culture.
“Culture” is defined as the socially transmitted behavior patterns that reflect how a group of people operate. It emerges and evolves wherever groups of people congregate. And that’s true of where we work. An organization’s culture reflects the way its workers think, behave, work and interact. It can guide, inspire and motivate or do just the opposite. Culture also affects how well your organization attracts and retains employees, partners, and customers.
You know from experience that organizational cultures vary. For example, perhaps today you’re in an organization where the culture encourages employees to see themselves as family members, with a focus on mentoring, nurturing, and “doing things together.” Another culture might primarily be entrepreneurial, with a focus on risk taking, innovation, and “doing things first.” Perhaps you know of an organization whose culture is results-oriented, with a focus on competition, achievement, and “getting the job done.” Or maybe one that has a more hierarchical culture where process, efficiency, and structure – that is, “doing things right” – are the essential behaviors.
A data-to-insights culture is data driven – a culture that thrives on getting the most out of its analytics-to-action processes. In their Business of Data report, the Economist Intelligence Unit rated companies that are ahead of their competitors in the use of data as three times more likely to be financially successful. These companies rely on data-driven decision-making over intuition or experience. You can tell when you’re in a data-driven culture when the organization employs a consistent, repeatable approach to using data to make tactical and strategic decision-making.
How to Reap the Benefits of Your Data-Driven Culture
Marketers are ideally situated to leverage actionable data. A vast amount of a company’s data falls within the domain of the Marketing organization. Everything from customer data (contact information, roles, profiles, demographics, segmentation), market data (market trends, etc.), competitive intelligence, engagement data (content and channel), experience transaction data (trials, purchases, conversion, etc.), research data (voice of customer, touchpoint effectiveness) to measures (cost to acquire, customer lifetime value, brand preference, churn/retention rate, satisfaction, referral rate, share of wallet, etc.).
Successfully combining data and analysis helps marketing identify new customer segments that will deliver higher profits, current customers with the greatest value potential, and new products that will be the most relevant both to new and current customers.
Remember, data-driven culture is not about data for the sake of data. It is a culture focused on converting the insights into action that facilitates growth, creates customer value, and improves performance. Without analytics, you can’t develop the necessary data insights. The analytics you will want to perform include customer profitability analysis, customer behavior analysis, customer lifetime value analysis, customer retention/customer attrition analysis, customer touch point analysis, marketing mix modeling, and Marketing performance analysis. Achieving this often requires securing C-level support.
To effectively translate data into action, you need to be able to take the following five steps:
- Collect and analyze your data relevant to the market, customers, and competition.
Purposeful data collection and analysis efforts focus on answering questions that are tied to identified needs and goals. Reward your team for analysis – not the mere collection of data.
- Establish a data infrastructure. Your infrastructure is what will allow you to collect, manage, and analyze your data. Implement a data structure that unifies key data among disparate systems and processes. Data silos inhibit insightful information that can be leveraged to optimize marketing initiatives and strategies.
- Implement a process to collect and use data – and repeat this process consistently and regularly.
To become a data-driven Marketing organization you need to develop and maintain a process to support ongoing data cleansing, collection and analysis. With this process you can identify where and when adjustments may be needed. Data-driven marketing organizations periodically review the data, infrastructure and processes to ensure they have the right data in place to drive decisions and action. Develop and apply a repeatable process that continues to collect and analyze new data to measure results and support continual improvement.
- Collaborate with your colleagues and leadership team.
Recognize the value that your colleagues and leaders bring to the table. Engage your leadership team in the process to facilitate communication and collaboration with Finance, Sales, Customer Service, IT, and others who may be needed to support the initiative.
- Focus on data that connects Marketing to the business.
Many marketing organizations possess more data than they know what do with. To be effective, you need selective focus, so focus on the specific types of data that will help you demonstrate and improve the value of Marketing in your organization. Measure and report on your progress and success.
Get Ready to Drive Action with Data
Achieving a data-driven culture in Marketing requires the Marketing organization to have the right tools, quality data, a data inventory, access to the data, data literacy, and processes to harvest and analyze the data. Armed with these capabilities, Marketing organizations are better positioned to either directly act on the data by developing and implementing Marketing initiatives that have the greatest likelihood of success, rather than just “winging it” or using intuition. These teams can also use data to measure the success of such initiatives, adjusting and optimizing strategy and programs to ensure achievement of goals.
Following these steps will help you make better decisions that are backed with data. By nurturing a data-driven marketing organization, you will exert influence and gain credibility as a marketer and member of your organization. As a Marketing leader, when you conquer gathering, extracting, analyzing and presenting data to drive decision-making and action you increase Marketing’s relevance and influence within your organization. Looking for insights from companies on how to become more data driven to prove and improve the value of your Marketing? Send us an email.
The original version of this article was first published on VisionEdge Marketing.