Digital marketing experts will tell you that you’re not going to kill it with conversion and improve ROI unless you gather and apply data.
I’m one of many marketers interested in continuously exploring the possibilities of data-driven marketing. Recently, I had the chance to interview an expert on the subject, Ben Carpel, the CEO of Cyfe, a company that offers simple all-in-one business dashboards to monitor . . . well, everything.
Ben and I talked about:
- Why companies must become more data-driven.
- Why many companies still don’t.
- The four-part formula that leads to a success with analytics.
- The value of data “visualization.”
- Smart ways to get started creating a data-driven environment.
You can check-out all 16 minutes of our conversation in the video below or read the highlights below that.
You’re Underusing Your Data
Barry: Do you think most companies want to become more data-driven?
Ben: For sure. The majority of marketing executives will agree that data-driven decisions in their marketing are necessary for success. It’s crucial as things become more competitive. Most marketers think there is more they can get out of it. It’s an underutilized resource or asset that they can take advantage of more.
Barry: According to CMO.com, 64 percent of marketing executives strongly agree that data-driven marketing is crucial to success in a hyper-competitive global economy. However, 87 percent of marketers consider data their organization’s most underused asset.
Ben: There is a big gap between what they want and what they have as a marketer. Many organizations are here to help start bridging that gap, but I think the stats you just spat out are spot on with what we’ve observed from our time in the industry, our customers, and what they’ve reported to us.
Barry: I’ve often read that companies cite a lack of analytic skills as a barrier to progress in this area. Do you agree with that?
Ben: Completely. It’s not only existing staff. Organizations are investing in training. They’re investing in advancement programs to retain and inspire people. There is more and more of an emphasis on recruiting those people too—people that have analytical skills or technical skills.
So new people coming into the organization, as well as the existing hires, just have to have that expertise—not necessarily the hardcore IT knowledge, but be able to collaborate with the data miners and the IT analysts, data analytics, the BI staff.
We’ve seen that become more and more of a trend, especially early this year but in the past few years as well.
What Companies Need to Embrace Data-Driven Marketing
Barry: So they need skills and there is a lack of them. Then they need data, or maybe they need data they actually have confidence in. We often hear analysts spend more time finding, gathering, and processing data than actually analyzing it, so this is a humungous problem.
Ben: Visualization is such an important tool to make data available and give people the right resources to make a properly structured decision. So the CMO, the CEO, or even someone who is ramping up their data analysis training and career advancement can suddenly see an insight through the visualization they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to see.
For the high level—the executives—visualization is such an important tool to make the right decisions, to make data available and give people the right resources to make a properly structured decision.
Barry: We want everybody in the company to believe in these processes and create an analytics culture. Do companies need to look at it that way?
Ben: Yes, and continuously. It’s not a one-time investment of human resources and time and energy. It should be something that people are continually looking at.
If you’ve got data, you’re constantly going to want to refine the models you’ve developed in order to deploy it effectively and embed it in your decision-making.
Sometimes the model can prove invalidated. You constantly want to evaluate the results, so you can identify problems and reformulate them if necessary.
How to Build a Data-Driven Culture
Barry: I’m going to assume you get asked a lot, “Ben, we want to be that data-driven company. How do we get started?” Do you have a good answer?
Ben: Yeah. First and foremost, if you’re the CEO or you’re reporting to the CEO or even further down the channel, no matter how big or small your role is, just make sure the culture is ready to embrace fact-based decision-making.
Rely less on intuition, more on facts. You do need the executive level to get on board with that. It’s very important that it permeates from the top all the way down. And expectations need to be set and managed.
If you’re trying to become a data-driven culture, it is important to think of it as a roadmap with stages and not to set things entirely out of control to begin with. So what that means is potentially starting small, with one area that might be a priority for the entire organization that has enough data. It’s kind of the guinea pig or the canary in the coal mine.
Barry: The advice you just gave is advice I give often: Pick an objective, pick a reasonably achievable goal, and work towards it and prove the model.
87% of marketers consider data their organization’s most underused asset
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Look for What Isn’t There
Barry: Now, looking back on our conversation, we went down this path that you need the right people with skills. You need data you can depend on. You need processes that integrate your data, and ultimately you need to create a culture. Do you think that part of the process is looking back at where you lack these things?
Ben: Yes, indeed. You need the people, you need the tools, and obviously the data to start filling in to address that. To start, when you’re picking something that doesn’t have data, or it does, that first project is going to be under scrutiny. It’s under a microscope, so you need to get it right.
Get everyone clear on the same page. If you’re looking at, as we call it, “the gap of what wasn’t there,” as you and I were talking about the people that you need, the technology, the process and the culture—all three or four of those things can be brought in to fill that in.