Believe it or not, we have long been approaching customer data in a misinterpreted manner. Instead of treating it as a corporate asset, we have followed a traditional approach towards data sets by considering them as essential parts of bigger picture. However, ‘Data’ itself is the bigger picture and the implementations are mere sidekicks.
What is a Data Driven Strategy?
Every business, regardless of its size and spread, comes across substantial data sets which need to be deciphered in order to gain customer insights. However, the real challenge for a marketer lies in stemming the flow of uninhibited data currents; ushering in via multiple devices. Additionally, businesses must also realize that it’s all about gathering Omnichannel data from online and offline sources and integrating it for completely understanding the customer journey.
Therefore, a data driven strategy towards efficient marketing is a process that’s backed by information instead of personal experiences and intuition. This is a quintessential approach for improving data acquisition, storage, management, sharing and usage.
There are times when marketers have massive quantities of unstructured data sets in front of them but they struggle to integrate or leverage the same for gaining insights. Before we start blaming technological inadequacies for the bottlenecks, it would be advisable to flip through the conclusive surveys for the year 2016. Based on statistics, 61 percent of marketers failed to utilize the available data but only 22 percent stated the lack of analytics tools as the reason. This clearly reveals that most businesses lack data driven strategies as they keep juggling between data sources and in the meanwhile, fail to put the same to use.
What are the Existing Challenges in Adopting a Data Driven Strategy?
As simple as the approach might sound, there are many challenges restricting the global adoption of a data driven strategy.
- The Cross-Device Conundrum
Marketers must be aware of the fact that modern day customer experiences are mostly cross-device affairs. Understanding the user journey revolves around gathering data from multiple sources and that too with considerable success. Therefore, analyzing different data feeds is important and reconciling each one of them is what allows marketers to swim across the continual stream of cross-device data sets. It needs to be understood that it’s difficult to connect data from multiple devices in a cohesive manner.
- Cultural Restrictions
While we previously mentioned a technical bottleneck, it would be appropriate to talk about the cultural restrictions, as well. Most of the cultural interferences hinder organizations to evolve according to the customer requirements. Once the cross-device data sets are harnessed, the subsequent decisions need to be taken by the marketers.
That said, cultural restriction isn’t a standalone challenge but a balanced mix of a few imminent issues. The fear of failure is a pronounced challenge which hinders an organization’s growth. If a business needs to amplify its productivity by harnessing the data sets, it must be more than willing to create a room for improvement by embracing risks.
Being ambiguous isn’t an organizational asset but more of a pile on for the marketers. Although, it is advisable to look into the existing data sets and process information according to the predefined layouts; lack of flexibility often hinders the implementation of a data driven approach.
Apart from that, soiled consumer data is yet another challenge for the marketers as they first need to remove the convolutions before using analytics and information for the purpose of decision making.
Lastly, there are still a few marketers who value intuitions more than evidences. Trusting the gut and past experiences have no place when it comes to formulating a data driven strategy and taking decisions accordingly.
With these challenges on-board, it becomes all the more important for the CMOs and marketers to adopt newer techniques for data integration. A data-driven plan establishes the road map for aligning activities like data management, data migration, data governance, data integration, data quality and data modernization for better results.
Now when we have already addressed the existing challenges towards adopting an actionable data-driven strategy, we also need to look at the ideals and pillars of an integrated approach.
Pillar 1: The Right Data
The first pillar involves identifying the right data sets while formulating the perfect data management strategy. A functional data management strategy helps marketers manage the expansive data pipeline for truly understanding the customer journeys. Moreover, unless we identify the right data for the job, it’s pointless to put the same to use.
Additionally, there are a few key components towards the creation of the right data management strategy. The first step involves collecting the raw, first-party data from the pipeline and enhancing the same with third-party additions.
Once the data sources are combined and zeroed in on, marketers must put all of them in context. Some of the most successful organizations believe in driving strategies with data confidence.
Marketers, eventually realize that collecting data and adding context to them can be messy affairs. Be it segmenting the existing strategies or envisioning the business outcomes, adjusting KPIs is a huge part of a data management strategy.
The next step involves giving access to everyone that’s even remotely associated with the data management plan. While the analysts require access for understanding and implementing strategies, allowing others to look into the insights and data sources validates transparency.
Once we have the actionable data with us, it’s important to harness it further for digging deeper into the same. This step calls for the inclusion of machine learning, predictive intelligence and artificial intelligence, aimed at maintaining data consistency.
Acting faster than usual is the last cog in the data management wheel. We need to understand that for a data driven strategy to function, marketers usually resort to 80 percent of standard analytics while concentrating on the additional 20 percent based on the uniqueness of the brand. Therefore, it is only appropriate that they act fast and come across with a proactive mindset for creating the right data management strategy.
Pillar 2: The Cultural Aspect
While the first pillar ascertains the need for a functional data management strategy, the second pillar addresses the cultural aspects of a data driven strategy. The cultural pillar involves looking at how the data is being used by formalizing the basic points of data alignment, collaboration and customer relationship. Organizations usually follow select data-driven marketing techniques, depending upon their goals.
The first cultural outlook involves looking at the centralized points for marketing. In 2018, many marketers will embrace this functional model for gaining agility. However, excessive inclination on this approach can decentralize and soil the existing data sets.
Apart from that, there is a distributed model which functions without the involvement of overarching analytics and brings forth nifty strategic shifts into the mix. Last but not the least, marketers can also opt for hybrid data driven marketing plans for a better alignment of business goals and objectives. However, regardless of the deployed marketing model, the cultural pillar aims at empowering the marketers for exploring and innovating while taking rewarding risks.
The cultural pillar also determines the data sources while offering solutions for lack of transparency, time and confidence. Moreover, better training modules for the employees are guaranteed with this data-driven marketing pillar in place.
Pillar 3: Robust Technologies
Although lack of technologies isn’t a reason when it comes to messing up the data-driven strategies, their inclusion can empower businesses in the best possible manner. Stats reveal that marketers with fully operational and integrated marketing stacks are 41 percent more likely to segment and reach customers in a better manner. Additionally, technology also helps better data personalization by a minimum of 47 percent. Moreover, digital analytics clubbed with robust technologies can improve the real-time user experience by 59 percent.
The right technology, therefore, helps marketers and businesses with better data organization, compelling designs, optimization and enhanced outreach.
Pillar 4: Trained Team
Having an exceptionally trained business team is important when it comes to formulating a data-driven marketing strategy in 2018. The development teams must be well-versed with development methods, requirements, code reusability and system architecture. Apart from that, business professionals with a marketing background are also required. Commonly, businesses with data-driven strategies in place prefer establishing centralized teams for data standardization, cleansing, integration and transformation. However, with every team requiring access to the data sets and sources, it is advisable to improve upon the accessibility.
This brings us to the fact that every data-driven marketing pillar is interconnected and one cannot stand on its own, unless it is supported by the others.
Pillar 5: CXO Buy In
Majority of marketers are always on the lookout for pitching their plans to business leaders. It is important that Chief Experience Officers buy in to the existing data-driven models for initiating investments. Moreover, every other pillar associated with an actionable data driven strategy; including the data identification, robust technologies, team building and cultural aspects— zero in on the CXO buy ins. That said, the best way to initiate the buy in process is to make the CXOs see the link between the corporate goals and the data management plans. Once they clearly understand the roadmap and importance of the data driven strategies, they will certainly buy in and consider investing in the ideas. Marketers, therefore, should build a business transformation plan, riding on the basics of actionable data-driven strategies. The existing layout must aim at organizing data trails, improve customer experience and even improve the efficiency of a supply chain.
At the end, it’s all about tying everything together. An integrated and actionable data driven strategy is extremely powerful as it pulls in both offline and online data sets. However, it’s all about putting them to use by deploying the existing pillars of marketing success. 2018 is expected to be a great year for businesses and anything less than an actionable data-driven strategy will be a sheer disappointment.