CMOs must work with IT leaders to avoid being snowed under

Turning vast amounts of data into useful information is a major challenge. CMOs must work with IT leaders to make the most of data analytics

From improving decision-making to enhancing the understanding of the market and competition, data and data analytics (D&A) hold an increasingly important role for Chief Marketing Officers.

Research from Gartner conducted in 2022 found CMOs are increasingly targeting D&A and marketing technology. With customer data including everything from online purchase data, click-through rates and browsing behaviour to social media interactions, mobile device usage, and geolocation data, there is a huge quantity of available information.

But as consumers generate more data than ever before, the firm’s The State of Marketing Budget and Strategy 2022 survey also found that there are a number of resource challenges around dealing with that data.

The report found that CMOs must work with IT leaders to establish clear governance rules regarding the extent, scope and timing of IT’s involvement in business- or marketing-led digital projects. Successful partnerships involve clear definitions of safe zones and the co-creation of an adaptive governance framework.

“CMOs who cannot effectively partner with their IT and D&A counterparts will fail to build the necessary digital capabilities – such as omnichannel journey orchestration and personalisation – needed to deliver a strong customer experience (CX) and achieve customer acquisition and retention goals,” said Aparajita Mazumdar, Principal of Research in the Gartner Marketing practice. “CMOs must educate C-suite executives and senior IT leaders about the benefits of this delivery approach, while also acknowledging a mature and effective democratised delivery programme will not happen overnight.”

With an increase in martech investment comes a number of challenges, explains a report published by global management consulting firm Kearney. 

“Martech investment across companies continues to grow, contributing to a flurry of startups and M&A activities,” the report explains. “With this comes an increasing teaming of marketers, data scientists, product managers, and IT/solutions architects.”

Despite these organisational shifts and advancements, CMOs face many legacy martech challenges. For example, today’s martech stacks continue to be unnecessarily complex, redundant, and fragmented. 

“Many organisations are running 60 or more applications, not to mention countless data sources and content and digital asset management platforms,” Kearney says. “The result is a lack of orchestration between tools, leading many organisations to gradually move toward single platforms and “one-stop shops.”

Turning data into useful information

As Perry Krug, Director of Shared Services at Couchbase, explains, turning the sheer volume of data into useful information is a significant challenge.

“Especially in the digital age, CMOs are under pressure from all sides for more meaningful, intuitive, and personalised experiences,” he says. “Customers are generating more data than ever before as they interact with brands through channels from websites to mobile apps and even devices like smartwatches.” 

Used correctly, this can give all the insights a brand needs. However, as Krug explains, turning this sheer volume of data into useful information is also one of the biggest challenges marketers face. 

“To deal with this, marketers need three things,” he says. “First, they need to remove any barriers that keep data locked away in silos – for instance, limited to certain channels or certain teams. If marketers don’t have the complete picture, they can’t make fully informed decisions.

“Second,” Krug adds, “they need all the data to be immediately accessible. If data takes time to process, marketing teams aren’t acting on the most up-to-date information. And if data can only be queried in certain ways, then marketers will be limited in what they can ask and what insights they can gain.

“Finally, data needs to be put in the hands of the people who need it. If marketers have to put every query through a dedicated research or database team, they can’t be as agile and run the risk of information getting lost in translation.”

All of this can mean a substantial change in database architecture, especially for organisations that rely on traditional relational databases. Nevertheless, as Krug explains, this change can be made easier: by, for instance, adopting cloud services or adopting modern platforms that still use familiar programming languages, so that hard-won skills aren’t rendered obsolete.

“An example of this approach is Domino’s,” he describes. “As the largest pizza company in the world, with almost 18,000 stores in more than 90 countries and more than 50% of worldwide sales across digital channels – including smartwatches and Slack – it had a huge wealth of data to use. By adopting a modern database, marketers can now pull out incredibly granular data in real-time as and when they need it – creating ad-hoc, highly personalised marketing campaigns targeted at specific audiences.”

Analytics joining the dots

“The power of data and analytics means businesses are now able to draw together multiple pieces of information about customers to drive highly targeted marketing outreach,” explains Scott Logie, Customer Engagement Director at Sagacity, and Chair of the Customer Engagement Committee at the Data and Marketing Association (DMA). “The days of blanket advertising to your entire customer base are gone, with those that continue doing this not only wasting time and money but also being viewed as increasingly outdated by their consumers, while many of their competitors hit the target with increasing accuracy.”

If used effectively, analytics tools can join the dots between people and products. “It should help answer key questions about who your customers are, where they came from and the value of what they’ve bought, but then also what they are likely to buy in the future, through which channel and what value they will drive in the future,” Logie explains. “This data can support more targeted and creative marketing engagements and develop better customer relationships as a result.

“For example, if a telco is launching new upgrade bundles that combine multiple phone deals with data or streaming services, analytics can be used to identify the segment of customers who are likely to be interested, such as families that all have multiple phones registered to the same household. Ultimately, people buy from people and using analytics enables businesses to increasingly treat customers as individuals, make marketing more cost-effective, and avoid damaging relationships.”

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