Data-Driven Marketing: A Work in Progress

Even though many digital marketing businesses and software tools are available to support sophisticated data-driven marketing strategies, most companies operate with a mix of digital and traditional marketing channels and tactics. Newer, smaller companies tend to spend more of their marketing resources on digital, while enterprises that have established marketing organizations and practices spread their resources across a broader mix of channels.

Part of the challenge of becoming a data-driven marketing organization is balancing resources among these channels and managing the continuous internal struggle for marketing budget. As digital strategies have become more important to marketing, there has also been a trend for marketing to become more independent of the IT department.

This shift is driven in part by the availability of good marketing analytics tools and digital marketing services. Yet tensions between IT folks and marketing still arise, because these tools are not always so easy to use. They require training, ramp-up time, and support, and marketing organizations are not always in the best position to assess those aspects of the purchase.

Nevertheless, there is clear value in the insights companies can glean from digital strategies. For example, I have a client who is an early-stage tech company launching a new product. The company developed its plan based on understanding the market. When everything was ready, it rolled out all its marketing assets, including a website and digital content. The strategy involves both online and offline tactics to promote the product.

Within three to six months of launch, the company will be able to make decisions based on a lot of empirical data, which means they will rely less on anecdotal evidence. For instance, although it’s useful to know what a few people who stopped by the company’s booth at a trade show had to say, the new digital strategy will tell the company that there were 300,000 searches on topics in their space, 20 percent of which were directly relevant to the organization. Based on that information, the company can make specific adjustments to its marketing assets to improve performance.

To become a data-driven marketing organization, companies must identify the problem they’re trying to solve, and then decide what they need to do from a budgeting, staffing, and business process perspective before jumping into the digital arms race. If they’re working a multi-channel marketing strategy (as most companies are), attribution capabilities that determine how online and offline strategies affect one another are great, but data-driven processes need to be in place so that action can be taken on insights before a company can have the conversation about attribution.


Editor's Note: this chapter was taken from Determine Your Data Strategy, found in entirety on SlideShare, and authored by Tim Bourgeois, partner at East Coast Catalyst.