- October 20, 2014
- Sales and Marketing Alignment
Data is a Marketer’s Best Friend
Long gone are the days that marketers could come up with nifty ad campaigns with no regard for the results they delivered. The ever-changing landscape of digital marketing has put marketers under a tremendous amount of pressure to deliver measurable and repeatable value to the business. To do this, marketers have to act more like publishers by creating a real connection with their customers and prospects through content; building a loyal audience; and being skilled at using data to measure the effectiveness of their efforts. In an often unpredictable business climate, data is the single most dependable and valuable asset marketers can rely on to make better decisions and gain powerful insight into their customers’ behaviors and preferences.
When data talks, executives listen
While data-driven marketing is not new (particularly in B2C), the data itself has become much bigger, more abundant and has gained extra attention from the C-suite because of the business value and competitive advantage it provides. Regardless of function or role, all marketers are on the hook to deliver value back to their business. From creative directors, to event managers, to content marketers, leveraging the right data has become foundational to informing strategies and improving results. The time has arrived for all B2B marketers to take the data-driven lead from their peers in sales, finance and operations by looking closely at how they report value back to the business in the form of forecasts, pipeline, receivables and return on investment. In other words, you must leverage this data to create useful intelligence that senior management and executives will respond to.
If you don’t believe me, then see what one CEO has to say about marketers becoming more data driven. At a recent Predictive Marketing Symposium Joe Payne, former CEO of Eloqua, shared his executive point of view with a room full of marketers and underscored the importance of taking a more data-driven approach across all of their initiatives and how to get started.
The dog and pony show is over
One obstacle on the road to being more data driven is that too many marketers have a tendency to focus mainly on the fun, exciting stuff like creative development, content deliverables and event execution. As a result, many marketers will default to reporting on the quantity of their activities back to sales and executive management versus quantitative facts and transparent data. When it comes to data, ask yourself and your team the following questions:
- Are you a marketer who is more comfortable presenting the latest tradeshow booth design or your outbound campaign results to the executive team?
- Does your CEO care more about the latest infographic you developed or how many MQLs you delivered to your sales organization?
- Is all your customer feedback anecdotal or is it based on regular and measurable insights?
Reporting on activity is inconsistent with how sales and finance both approach the business – because these functions are 100% data-driven. For marketing to have a seat at the table, and be valued for their contribution, it’s mandatory to show up with marketing data that matters.
6 ways to effectively manage your marketing data
You don’t need a team of data scientists and analysts to get started with managing your ongoing flow of marketing data. Here are some ways to better leverage existing marketing data, measure marketing contribution and speak the language of data to your sales, finance and executive teams:
- Ask your sales and executive team what data is most important to them, why it’s important and how often they want to review results.
- Establish substantive and measurable goals based on what your sales and executive team is focused on.
- Take a balanced approach between creative development and data analysis. Lead with marketing data with your executive team – not the creative execution.
- Look closely at how sales and finance report updates and results to senior management and be consistent with their data driven approach. Don’t just share the good news – a lot can be learned from failure.
- Be consistent. Establish a regular reporting system (i.e. weekly, monthly, quarterly) and be sure to use the same format so that your key stakeholders get accustomed to the framework you are providing.
- Best case scenario is to integrate your marketing data directly into the sales workflow and deliver key information such as lead details, account-based insights and project intelligence.
Build a lasting friendship
If data is a marketer’s best friend, you must make it a long-lasting friendship. In an industry where you are only as good as your last campaign, using data and intelligence effectively is how you will ensure that marketing continues to deliver long-term, ongoing success for the business.