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To remain relevant in a world where digital disruptors such as Amazon, Uber and AirBNB have built global businesses through data-driven technology and consumer engagement, established brands need to learn how to turn their customer data reserves into strategic and operational insight.
This is less about technology than it is about organisational change and top-level business strategy.
Here are a few ideas about where you could start with rolling out a data project that will deliver a return on investment for your marketing organisation.
1. Begin with a business goal in mind
Don’t think of data as something you need to do for its own sake. It is a powerful source of information that can answer many of your biggest business challenges. Think about the missed opportunities in your marketing and customer engagement strategy, and then start thinking about what data you need to give you insights to perform better.
For example, are you acquiring enough profitable customers and where do they come from? Are you retaining the customers that matter most for your business? How do your customer acquisition costs compare to the industry norms?
And what sort of information do you need to answer these questions?
2. Coordinate with the CIO
The CIO is a valuable ally in data strategy. They have the technical knowledge to help you seek out the right platforms and solutions and will be able to structure, store and manage the data and systems that are required to be able to develop insights and consumer engagement. They are also key in understanding the interdependencies in the wider enterprise. A CIO with hands-on experience in implementing data infrastructure and tools for other parts of the business, is a significant advantage. This combined with a CMO’s customer engagement expertise can add up to a powerful combination.
3. Start small, then scale up
Often the concept of data makes it a daunting prospect. The organisation needs to build it’s capability and maturity. Start out with a modest aim or a simple question, and then think about the data that will support your objective. Once you’ve enjoyed your first success, then start to dig deeper into the data and add new data sources to the mix.
Take an incremental approach, trying to learn and do a little more as your organisational maturity grows. Each subsequent analysis can enrich your understanding and provide a platform for further exploration. You can commit more money and people to the project as you start seeing worthwhile results. Success is all about smart, usable data rather than volume.
4. Get the information to the right people
Data can deliver the important business insights that can help drive your marketing, innovation and sales strategies in new directions, so it goes without saying that the CMO and other members of the executive suite should have access to data analytics. But the real power of data is that it can provide a real-time or near real-time stream of actionable information.
Hence, a lot of the real ROI from data comes from operationalising its insights for faster and better decision-making at the front lines of customer engagement – the website, the social media team, the sales associates, the call centre, and so on. Make sure that data permeates the organisation so that people across the enterprise are informed and empowered.
5. Measure your returns
Just the same as any other tool, strategy or campaign, your return on your investments in data must be measured. Assess how much money you are spending, consider what sort of value you are getting, and look for ways that you could improve the results. Think about the business impact of accessing certain data faster than you could before, or getting insights you may never have uncovered without a well-structured data strategy. What is the value to your business and does it justify the cost?