Dos and Don’ts of Becoming a Successful Data-Driven Marketer

As day three of our data-driven marketing content takeover almost draws to a close, we asked several industry leaders to share their biggest dos and don’ts with you, our readers. Take a look at their advice below.

fisher-andyAndy Fisher, Chief Analytics Officer, Merkle

DON’T let fear or uncertainty stop you from starting today.

It’s really easy to look at the massive constellation of vendors, the alphabet soup of acronyms, and the constantly changing jargon and be utterly baffled. Well, here’s some news – there is nobody on this planet that understands it all. I’ve been in the data-driven marketing space for nearly 20 years, and I learn something new every day. Things are getting more complex. The number of companies and platforms is utterly exploding – especially in the programmatic, mobile, and CRM spaces. Sure it’s confusing. Sure it’s scary. Just know that everyone is trying to keep up. Take a deep breath and plunge right in.

DO learn the languages of analytics.

While it may not be necessary for you to become a developer (or even program frequently), it is very useful to know the languages and tools that analysts leverage every day. At a minimum, it is useful to understand how all of these tools are used. Although there are many languages and tools out there, there are several essential tools that all analysts should know. Think of them as the Swiss Army knife of analytics. They are SQL (data manipulation); R and SAS (data analysis); Tableau and other data visualization tools; Hadoop (a low cost way to scale things); and Python (the glue that holds it together). Fortunately there are many resources out there that can help you learn more about these tools; two good options are Code Academy and Coursera.

todd-thiessen-razorfishTodd Thiessen, Senior Vice President, Strategy, Razorfish

DO combine your data with other data sets. DON’T think you can do it alone.

Just testing and accounting for all the variables you control is difficult enough. But the real insights are likely to come from the combination of different data sets. Internally look to other divisions and geographies for marketing or process insights. We have helped create B2B programs developed from insights sourced from their related B2C product groups and research.

Externally, look for partnerships and alliances that might have complementary data. Previously, these opportunities may have been too daunting due to the size or complexity of combining data sets, but technology and specialized vendors can simplify the initial exploration and even help operationalize the business long term with services around processing and privacy protection. Your social media partners will work with you to explore hypotheses around social behaviors that could only be dreamed of 10 years ago.

maria-depanfilisMaria DePanfilis, Partner, Analytics & Optimization, Rosetta

DON’T expect the data to tell you everything you need to know about your customers. DO augment your data-driven insights via other types of intelligence such as qualitative and/or contextual research.

Data is just that – data. Without artful and purposeful interpretation of what it means to you, your business and your customers, in and of itself data has minimal utility. The real “juiciness” in the data comes from developing a contextual understanding of what it is really telling you about your customers and how to apply this insight into tangible elements of your strategy that will drive impact. Even though obtaining behavioral data is relatively instant these days, developing a real understanding over what it means takes time. Context cannot be shortcut-ed. But it’s well worth the effort to obtain it because once you have it, it then becomes very easy to parse out which pieces of data are important and which are not.

azher-ddbchicagoAzher Ahmed, Senior Vice President/Director of Digital Operations, DDB Chicago

DO tear down the walls to collaborate.

Data can very easily be misinterpreted or manipulated to tell vastly different stories. Make sure that everyone is pointed in the right direction by collaborating with analysts at the onset. Map out how your data can and should relate to business objectives. Define clear and quantifiable metrics of success. Finally, marry this up with the longer-term vision to ensure your desired outcomes are clear and any incremental performance goals are defined.

DON’T forget it’s a work in progress.

The world is constantly changing and so your data analysis and insights need to adapt. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a “set it and forget it” approach to data-driven marketing, so adapt your processes to include regular check-ins and re-evaluations that you’re headed in the right direction. Critically evaluate your data and make sure to include new platforms and data points as they become available. Finally, make sure your talent is trained and constantly learning how to best leverage this new and evolving data as technology moves rapidly ahead.

bob-rupczynski-kraftBob Rupczynski, Vice President of Media and Consumer Engagement, Kraft

DO be flexible.

The biggest “do” is the ability to be flexible but to also drive an actionable insight out of that flexibility, meaning there are a tremendous amount of data sources. We can get an incredible depth of information, but if you can’t action it and it doesn’t make a difference or doesn’t add value to a consumer’s life, then it’s not worth the time. That’s the biggest thing – the understanding of data, flexibility to move between data sources, but the ability then to action that into something that’s going to make a difference in the relationship.

DON’T use the past to hold back future decisions.

I can’t tell you how many times in this industry I see people make decisions because of what we’ve always done or how things have always been done, or those types of perspectives. The future is new – we are writing it as we go. And it’s going to be a continual journey in that not everything’s going to work out perfectly every single time, but you shouldn’t let the past hold you back on what your future decision is going to be.

And finally, our last contributor is so excited about the world of data-driven marketing that he could only look on the bright side and give us a do…

panayiotou-drewDrew Panayiotou, Chief Executive Officer, BBDO Atlanta

DO make data your friend not your enemy.

Today, the power of data is often focused on the presumed holy grail of effectiveness: return on investment. For decades, marketers have been trying to justify marketing spending, and the increasing mountains of data are primarily used for chasing the attribution of sales. However, many measurement systems are fragmented and ignore the fact that ads interact with each other. One noted CFO recently stated, “If I add up all the sales being attributed to different media channels, our company should be double in size.”

Marketers would gain more credibility measuring “Return on Marketing Objective” rather than “Return on Investment.” Measuring nothing at all is better than measuring the wrong thing. The right measures make data your friend and earn you credibility.

Homepage image via Shutterstock.

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