Data-Driven Marketing Step One: Get Smart, Get Strategic

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When companies pass over creating a strategic vision what happens? Technology—not strategy—becomes the driver. I’ve seen far too often just how much that can hurt a company. Technology is never the panacea. It’s the enabler. The system is not the solution, but your ideas are. That’s why aligning behind a shared vision is essential—not only among the marketing team, but across the entire C-suite.

A shared vision helps build a case that the broader organization needs to support. It will:

Connect the dots between projects

Demonstrate how projects drive value

Achieve alignment when change sparks turf wars

Once you’ve created the vision, other items will start to fall into place. And once you have the vision, you can get smart and strategic.

Each business is unique, which means starting points, visions and final plans will vary from marketing team to marketing team. However, when you’re ready to put data-driven marketing into action, think strategically and break down your strategy into basic components. Why, you might ask? Because you need to give each one the attention it deserves, while still staying true to your vision.

Here are my five basics for “getting strategic:”

1. Customer interaction strategy. Map out the journey your buyer takes, from first touch through to purchase and aftermarket relationships. Next, identify the cross-organizational company changes that need to occur as well as the systems and data to transform and deliver on your customer engagement plan. The goal here is to develop a consistent, omnichannel customer-centric journey. I recently had an experience with a retail company that doesn’t have this synergy. Their ecommerce and inventory systems aren’t yet integrated, which made the return of my online purchase to their local brick and mortar store in my area a less than an ideal experience. Make sure you create a customer interaction strategy that will empower your customers instead of making them feel as though they’re being “managed.”

2. Analytics strategy. In my book, Tom Davenport explains that there are three main categories of analytics: business, predictive, and prescriptive. Data and technology will drive analytics, so you need to identify where you are today and what kind of analytics you’ll need to compete and frame your organization for the digital disruption age.

3. Data strategy. Because silos of information exist across the enterprise and data-driven marketing needs credible data, developing an enterprise-wide data strategy is essential. To have an actionable data strategy, it needs to permeate the enterprise, and it needs to be a partnership between marketing, IT, and other major business functions. In addition, you’ll want to link the data strategy to your overall business objectives, gain senior level sponsorship and be mindful of data management issues like compliance data and data hygiene. Lastly, be sure your organization’s most talented employees will be able to execute your data strategy successfully. In “Big Data Marketing” I share examples about my work with Peggy Dyer, CMO of The American Red Cross, to help them move from a vision to a clear strategy. It’s been so incredibly rewarding to experience this transition with them!

4. Organizational strategy. Because big data goes beyond departmental walls and challenges traditional approaches, it is disrupting organizational structures and silos. The C-suite should collaborate regarding organizational models, evaluate current structures and create new approaches to optimize revenue growth in this new day and age.

5. Technology strategy. The most successful organizations don’t just foster strategic partnerships between CMOs and CIOs, they know how to marry business and technology strategy. When debates or roadblocks come up in these companies, the CMO and CIO can use the broader vision to continue to drive change. Companies are also looking to new roles, like a vice president of customer experience or customer engagement to enhance CMO/CIO relationships.

Are you ready to begin your journey towards data-driven marketing? Don’t panic but don’t delay getting started, either. Take a little time to work towards your vision and strategy. When you’re there and ready to move on, check out my next blog post: Step Two: Tear Down the Silos (to be published next week).

Main Category: Lisa Arthur

Lisa Arthur is the author of “Big Data Marketing” and CMO of Teradata Applications, the leader in integrated marketing software. Lisa meets with thousands of CMOs and marketing professionals annually through public speaking and events.

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