Why Managing All Your Data Is Easier Than You Think

Answers to the Questions You Want to Know

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How should I handle all my data?
In the past few years, marketers have gone from data-starved to drowning in bits and bytes. To handle the expanding volume of data, next-generation analytics have moved from nice-to-have to need-to-have.

Some of the most sophisticated marketers are finding the analytics they deployed just three years ago are outdated. Though traditional research and solutions such as media mix or experiments still have a role, they are less able to deliver predictive insights and decision support.

How do I begin organizing all those data?
Get them all in one place. Many companies keep data from different marketing activities (e.g. digital vs. offline, CRM, etc.) in multiple places. Yet all these channels interact with each other. Breaking down the silos will enable you to look at your business holistically and see the bigger picture more accurately.

How then do I analyze it?
Stick to proven mathematics and analytics. Bad math applied to big data equals errors of huge scale, leading to bad decisions that waste money and squander potential revenue. There is more than 50 years of history of top-notch marketing analytics to allow you to stand on the shoulders of the brainiacs that have gone before you.

  What insights should I look for?
Get a 360 degree-view. Done right, big data can reveal insights that just weren't possible even a year ago. But those insights rarely tell the whole story. Most marketing budgets still deploy through nonaddressable media, so looking at only digital attribution will tell a small (and likely misleading) part of the story.

If you want the big picture from your big data, combine the granular data "bottom-up" components with "top-down" influences such as brand investment, sales activities, trade funds, product innovation and message execution, as well as macro factors such as unemployment rates, seasonality, gas prices and political climate. See the full context before letting the numbers lead you astray.

Should I outsource my data analysis?
The nature of analytics is evolving rapidly. Generalists can no longer keep up with the specialized knowledge and tools that push the frontier. Specialists that stay on top of the issues and opportunities are required.

Outsourcing to providers of general-marketing services, as capable as they may be in their core areas, misses two opportunities. First, Analytics 2.0 is about relying on operationalizing the analytics, not just getting information. The specialists address the transformation and organizational adoption required, not just the techniques and the PowerPoint. Second, it's imperative to know which capabilities to build in-house and then supplement around them. The specialists are seeking to help you enable and improve organizational capabilities, not just contract to deliver them.

So you recommend beefing up my internal team?
Invest in talent that understands the latest methods and technology to give you the most accurate information. And most important, make sure your team can interpret the outcomes and translate them into credible and understandable actions that can be communicated easily to other key stakeholders.

How is data reshaping the marketing process?
Creativity and product innovation are still critical to marketing success. But we are entering an entirely new era, with never-before-seen insights and computing power that removes significant risk from decision-making. It is a great opportunity for CMOs to be ahead of this curve. It allows them to definitively and transparently create a transformative bridge between marketing and finance, based on the ability to truly measure all revenue drivers (the obvious and the not so obvious).

Wes Nichols is co-founder and CEO of predictive analytics company MarketShare. Learn more at www.marketshare.com.

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