Closing the Gap Between Traditional and Data-Driven Marketing

Posted on by David Saef

big-data-numbersMarketing has always enjoyed some form of measurement. Still, the migration of marketing services to the Internet and the explosive growth of available analytical insights has fundamentally changed how we run marketing campaigns.

But somewhere in that transition, a gap formed between traditional and data-driven marketing.

Data-driven marketing provides marketing departments and executive managers with an infinite supply of usable data. Companies can then use these analytics to target, measure, and convert global audiences at such detail that they often have trouble managing all of the data. This kind of analytics overload has kept many companies from integrating data-driven marketing practices into their current advertising portfolios.

In doing so, they’re putting themselves on the fast track to oblivion while companies such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon add powerful data-driven analytics to their marketing tool belts. If you’re ready to reap the benefits of data-driven campaigns, here are five tips you can use to restructure your marketing department to successfully close the gap:

  1. Understand and speak the language of the C-suite. Many CEOs have a background in sales, operations, or finance. So unlike most other departments, they’re comfortable with data analysis. The key to creating a data-friendly environment is training every employee to be familiar with data collection, review, and analysis. Embrace a program, such as General Electric’s Six Sigma, train your entire team, and include data-focused objectives in each employee’s annual evaluation.
  1. Tie marketing results to business objectives. Most marketing reports talk about impressions, click-throughs, and unique visitors. These are important metrics, but they don’t translate well for CEOs and CFOs. Do your due diligence, and make sure your marketing results tie into business objectives, such as sales and margins.

For example, at my company, we measure leads for each different line of business. Each lead is fed to a lead generation specialist to qualify and pass on to sales, and we track our results with Salesforce. By organizing our efforts, we can see how certain marketing initiatives directly contribute to our top and bottom lines.

  1. Educate your teammates. Marketing is on the forefront of a number of amazing developments in technology and social media. But not everyone can see how GPS or geo-fencing translates into tangible business results. This lack of education leads to a lack of understanding, excitement, and even respect.

To give context to these developments, your marketing team needs to explain what these tools are and how they apply to each department. Whenever possible, provide practical examples of how these tools can drive sales, increase customer satisfaction, and lead to personal and professional success.

  1. Mind the generation gap. Unfortunately, the technology gap between traditional marketing and data-driven marketing is creating a generational gap that causes friction between traditional baby boomers and data-driven Millennials. 

The best way to close this gap is to encourage face-to-face communication and team-building exercises. While baby boomers can provide perspectives on traditionally effective tactics and activities that haven’t proven effective, Millennials can provide insight into how trends such as the use of second screens drive additional meaningful engagement with audiences. Building new relationships will help tear down well-worn stereotypes and help employees of any background or age learn new skills.

  1. Embrace data to make actionable decisions. We’re all aware of how new trends play out in business: Forbes announces the latest technology, everyone jumps on board, and five years later, the only mention is in a dusty memo. Whether we’re looking to General Motors, McKinsey & Company, IBM, or the Congressional Budget Office, a number of leading organizations have made data analysis, statistics, and strategic analysis the vehicles that drive their decisions.

As W. Edwards Deming, the father of Total Quality Management, once said, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Consider what you want to change and what information will support your decision, then gather the data in an objective, meaningful way.

You won’t close the chasm between traditional and data-driven marketing overnight. But by addressing the transition head on, you’ll make marketing waves and reap the most benefits. Use these tips to create a company process and culture that uses data to zero in on the needs of your target customers.

David Saef is the executive vice president of MarketWorks and strategy at GES, a global event marketing company.

More on Data-Driven Marketing:

A Simple Process for Tackling Disparate Data Sets

Personal Data & Responsible Moodgeisting—How Do You Feel?

Three Ways Big Data Will Change Marketing Offers in 2015 

Special Report: B2B Big Data


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