Insights from properly sourced and connected data make all the difference since they can significantly boost marketers’ knowledge of consumers and optimize the customer experience.

Some organizations are far down this path, however, most have yet to get started on their data journey, missing opportunities as they struggle to figure out how best to harness data to deliver impactful, actionable results.

The continuum of data challenges

The overarching challenge is simple: There is often too much data that is massively fragmented across disparate systems.  In fact, 76% of front office executives say the organization has data in wide use or at scale—which will become 100% in three years. But that only matters if they’re asking the right questions they want the data to answer. Only 26% of companies say they have the ability to translate customer data into actions (the number grows to a much more impressive 55% when the pool is made up of leading companies). [1

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This fragmentation problem is exacerbated by the tendency of many marketers to over-communicate. Different systems may mean different outreach approaches, burying customers under too many repetitive marketing messages.

A marketer might look to a CRM platform, as the source of all customer information, even though a lot of the customer’s behavioral data doesn’t live there. Orders are stored in a separate enterprise platform—including info about upsells and subsequent purchases. There’s usually an entire email management system, which captures how customers respond to marketing outreach, general and targeted alike. Add to these website and third-party data from external sources, and the data glut marketers are contending with becomes apparent.

Or perhaps a company might fail to capture essential data because its third-party systems don’t share the right information at the right moments in the customer lifecycle. Identifying gaps in both technology and orchestration is a crucial step in improving the data picture for marketers.

Consider, for instance, a pharmaceutical company that wants to get a 360-degree view of its customers. Maybe the company has identified webinars attended by healthcare professionals as essential sources of customer data, but the company is unable to access information on the participants. Another problem is figuring out where (as in which platform) to assemble this 360-degree view, based on disparate sets of data from different sources.

Other organizations may have the opposite problem to contend with. Sticking with the example of a pharma company, perhaps it has a grip on the technology architecture for capturing data on participants at a webinar, but the company has yet to clearly identify its ultimate goals. This is critical. Only once you identify the right marketing KPIs can you work backwards from there to understand what data you need, from where and how to bring it all together in one place to generate actionable insights.

Even marketers who are up to speed on these fronts might have other concerns, however. Protecting privacy—because companies value it and new regulations demand it—is essential, especially for marketers who have the data code cracked. Without security, even the most advanced data-driven marketing effort can go up in smoke.

Data opportunities

The good news is that wherever a business may be on the data continuum, there are straightforward and effective steps it can take to transform its marketing operations into future-ready data-driven efforts.

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Unpacking agility

Agility can be defined as how connected your teams are and what you do with data-driven insights. The most data-agile companies feed these insights directly into their product- and service-development cycles. Agility also reflects how closely you understand your customers and what they want from you. A sneaker manufacturer, for example, uses its app and combination of computer vision, data science, machine learning and AI to create personalized and better-fitting shoes for customers, based on 13 data points.

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Achieving efficiency

Most marketers would benefit from a more explicit governance and control structure. When you don’t have direct control of your data, you become beholden to partner agencies and their recommendations for allocating budget—despite not knowing if their assumptions and projections are accurate.

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Becoming future-ready

Every marketing organization’s ultimate goal should be to build a future-ready system that is well structured, systematic and offers personalized engines for engaging with customers. Intelligent—i.e. data-driven—sales can improve lead generation and conversion by 35% or more. Data amateurs and pros alike can achieve this level of savviness with the right interventions.

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In our next blog, we’ll explore the how of becoming a truly data-driven marketing operation. Specifically, we’ll look at specific tasks marketers can take to overcome data challenges—whether big or small—and take advantage of key opportunities.

[1] “Driving Change,” Unlocking Data to Transform the Front Office,” Accenture POV, 2022

Nigel Gilbert

Managing Director, Lead – Marketing Operations

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