The volume, velocity and variety of big data can be intimidating and overwhelming for marketers to manage. Taming it to make business sense can be compared to harnessing the force of a waterfall to generate energy. Not insurmountable, but doable with the right capabilities and tools.
In the past, data was only associated with number crunchers in the finance and IT functions, and marketing was the preserve of the creative, making business decisions on the back of inspiration. But this is changing -- Marketers have woken up to the power of data and analytics and how it can positively impact their marketing initiatives and the consumer.
Today, customers expect brands to fit their needs of the moment with relevant experiences and compete for their attention. As consumers move among devices and channels - online, offline, social media, mobile -- they are leaving a trail of structured, unstructured, video, location-based, sensor data and more. Through this intimidating and growing barrage of data, companies are given the resource needed to deliver the relevant experiences to consumers, and connect with them at the right time, in the right place, with the right offers.
CMOs and marketers recognise the ecosystem of consumers is becoming increasingly digitised, and plan to become more data-driven to respond to their needs. In fact, recent Accenture Interactive research of more than 400 senior marketing executives from around the world shows that more than 70 percent of respondents recognise the need for a major digital transformation of the marketing organisation. And as digital budgets increase, the heaviest investment is expected to be in customer experience and data analytics capabilities. Indeed, about one quarter of senior marketers plan to dedicate between 41 and 60 percent of their employees to marketing, media and customer analytics in 2013, an increase of five percent over 2012.
To maximise the effectiveness of marketing, companies should enhance their analytics capabilities in at least four key areas:
- Test and learn - Test marketing strategies in small, limited channels to gauge their effectiveness. Successful strategies can then be launched more widely.
- Measurements and evaluation - Identify a mix of investment opportunities to increase the effectiveness of marketing efforts across various customer segments in all channels.
- Insights and understanding - Employ analytics to gain a deep understanding of the business, understanding why a product or a campaign is performing in a particular way.
- Performance analysis - Adopt a holistic approach to marketing analytics that captures all the key drivers of performance.
To excel in these four areas a significant culture change in the business is likely required, which necessitates the employment of talented individuals who are well-versed in techniques such as econometrics, customer segmentation, investment optimisation and simulation, and advanced analytics. However, due to the rapid growth of digital and analytics and the increased desire for businesses to have this talent, it is not easy to find people with the requisite skillsets, and certainly not in the field of marketing. Yet this talent is required to realise the key business benefits.
Simply having people with analytics skills also isn’t sufficient. What marketing organisations need are analysts who can employ technical capabilities to represent and interpret big data sets to tell a compelling story. For example, how is a particular segment of customers behaving or likely to behave toward a particular product launch?
Marketing organisations are on a journey, and it is far from complete. The journey will involve the agile adoption of analytics skills, as well as fluid cooperation between creative and technical teams. The marketer of the future should be a savvy individual with an understanding of maths, statistics, data, and analytics, but one who is also comfortable stringing together a story about each customer — where they live, what they like or dislike, their age group, where they like to shop, when and where they go on vacations, and much, much more.
Delivering relevant, timely, engagements with consumers at scale is the ultimate marketing goal. Taking a data-driven analytics approach to marketing will help to get us there, and when it’s accomplished, entire organisations, and most importantly the digital consumer, will benefit.
Posted by By Conor McGovern, Managing Director, Accenture Interactive