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Marketing data is the most unexploited organisational asset

In the Martech and Data Analytics world we listen to a lot of jargon thrown at us (we also give it back in equal measure!). Some of the buzz words or questions are – MROI – So what’s the Marketing Return on Investments? What are the AI’s (Actionable Insights)? What are the attribution metrics? Are we sweating our MarTech and Digital assets? We listen to or give (depending on the person in front of us) long soliloquies on data driven marketing. But the fact remains that very few organisations leverage all the data that they have at their disposal. In my current avatar, I deal with both Business Analytics and Marketing Analytics and I must admit, most organisations are some distance away from making full use of the marketing and customer data already available to them.

The results of a recent study done by IBM, with more than 13,000 C-Suite executives across 98 countries and 20 industries is telling.  The difference between the ‘Torchbearers’ of Data (who add up to less than 10%) and the ‘Aspirationals’ is very stark. Do have a look at the graph below and it will be self-evident to you. Right from the ability to collect all types of data to changing mindset to decision-making to sharing data to actionable insighting of data, the gap is very wide. It is this narrowing of gap that organisations will have to work on assiduously to drive business growth.

In my assessment Marketers should look at multiple data sources available to an organisation to not only arrive at an effective strategy but also to drive business growth. In fact, in some cases marketing can be a torch bearer for creating a decisive competitive edge and even support product innovation. For example, intent data like a family moving cities or into a bigger house can be targeted by DTH service providers, furniture, home enhancement products, consumer electronics, home appliances, etc.

So, before we get into the precise forms of data sets let me articulate this thought at a ‘helicopter view’ level. There are three sets of data sets that an organisation potentially has:

  1. Hard data: This is the transactional or purchase and service history data.
  2. Dark data: This is data collected in the process of selling or providing the service but not effectively captured. It is lying somewhere in the organisation, but the marketing decision makers are unaware of its presence or do not know how to use it or it is so badly structured that it cannot be used.
  3. New or Soft data: This is typically about the behaviour, activity or interest of the customer. At another level it is all about capturing the ‘intent’ of the prospect or customer from the trail of information that the customer is leaving behind in the digital ecosystem. Insights can also come from new sources of data. For example, for Health and Life insurers, use emerging categories of data sources like fitness bands enables them to understand customer lifestyles better and recommend plans and pricing in that context. Same for car insurers where using a variety of IoT devices fitted in vehicles they can recommend plans based on data.

I am not sure of how many Marketers think like this to understand their data ecosystem. Key data sets that a Marketer should be interested in to help them make better informed decisions are customer, service, financial, and operational data.

  1. Customer, transaction and service data: Name, email, mobile, address, transaction and/or purchase history and service history. This will include all kinds of digital behaviour data like web searches, time spent on products and services, which pages were most engaging, channel preference, CRM and Loyalty programs, Referral data, Call centre data, etc. Also if Analytics is deployed then – CLTV, Market Mix Modelling, MROI and other analytics models used including next best offering, churn, etc. Very few organisations incorporate or use qualitative research in conjunction with other data points that they have. Organisations ability to integrate behavioural insights with intent insights and transaction insights will drive competitive edge in the future. The qualitative insights can also come from surveys, social media and online communities. Combine marketing and sales data for a holistic consumer view. This will help identify the gaps and enable teams to devise the right interventions for both the sales and marketing teams.
  2. Sales and Financial data: Understanding the sales data granularly will help Marketers develop sharper strategies based on cultural traits, regional behaviour, language nuances, social habits or specific product preferences. It helps them measure performance and operate more efficiently. Understanding Sales and Marketing costs including margins, competitors’ financial data (if accessible) are other important data points that marketers need to be on top of to drive financially viable and optimised budgets.
  3. Operational data: This is connected to business operations and processes. For example, for Automotive players, shipment of cars, availability of models, dealer network and its efficacy and effectiveness, sales and network support. All of this can aide effective formulation and deployment of data driven marketing strategies.

Companies who adopt data-driven marketing are more likely to have an advantage over the competition and increase profitability. In fact, they are six times more likely to be profitable year-over-year, says a Forbes study. This is now a universal truth and no longer requires the support of surveys. But the fact also is that currently, customer and marketing data is the not the most sweated asset in the organisation. So, my recommendation to Marketers – start sweating before chilling.

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3 thoughts on “Marketing data is the most unexploited organisational asset”

  1. Avatar
    Aakash Dhar

    ‘Data is the new oil’
    I completely agree that organisations should leverage data and draw insights to make informed decisions.

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