Data-Driven Marketing In Action: Six Lessons From The Leaders

Data may be the basis of marketing maturity, but recent research shows it’s the processes, structures, and people using that data that give mature organizations the upper hand.

Data-Driven Marketing In Action: Six Lessons From The Leaders

Marketing maturity is not about accumulating technology platforms, but about extracting value from the tools and techniques in use. Data is at the foundation of this, but it’s the processes, structures, and people working with and refining that data that are key to unlocking its power. That’s what gives mature organisations the upper hand.

Econsultancy and Adobe recently surveyed over 3,600 digital marketers and ecommerce professionals to examine the extent to which their organisations are investing time, expertise, and budgets to make data-driven marketing a reality (Adobe is’s parent organisation).

According to the resulting Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing, called “The Pursuit of Data-Driven Maturity,” (access requires short registration) marketers are making the necessary steps to move towards a new future, one which is increasingly aligned with being able to truly know the customer and instil a data-driven culture.

This vision of the future is a common denominator, but organisations are progressing at different rates. The survey revealed that one in four (26%) responding companies have a solid data-driven strategy in place, while the rest either have no formal approach whatsoever (23%), or are working towards a strategic approach but haven’t arrived at one (51%).

As expected, progress and success are highly dependent on having a comprehensive strategy for better using data in marketing programmes. Based on this strategy lens, our analysis uncovered six key traits of successful data-driven companies (leaders) which differentiate them from the rest (laggards).

1. They Use Data To Advance Along The Digital Maturity Continuum

In a marketing context, the word “digital” is increasingly redundant, as the online and offline worlds merge. Similarly, as data infuses every marketing channel, a future where the phrase “data-driven’” is considered superfluous might be closer than marketers think.

While most organisations see themselves as works in progress when it comes to digital maturity, further analysis suggests that digital maturity is increasingly synonymous with data-driven maturity. When asked about where they are in their journey to digital maturity, a scant 11% of laggards describe themselves as close to, or at, the finish line. This compares to over a quarter (26%) of leaders. More positively, over two-fifths (44%) of laggards claim they have just started their journey towards digital maturity.

Where is your company in its journey to digital maturity? Please choose the statement that best describes your view.

2. They Foster Collaboration

In order to ensure that data transcends departmental boundaries and moves swiftly throughout the organisation, there needs to be a focus on cross-company collaboration. Leaders are certainly proficient at fostering this; nearly a third (29%, compared to 13% of laggards) indicate there’s strong collaboration between marketing, finance, sales, and technology.

In top-performing organisations, there’s also evidence that marketing goals take top priority. Leaders are around 20% more likely to focus on initiatives that are marketing-led and technology-supported.

Enabling cross-company uses of data also requires executive leadership support and this is an area where most companies fall behind; nearly two-thirds (62%) of laggards highlight that executives have not committed to the necessary investments to make best use of data in their marketing programmes. This compares to only 37% of top performers.

3. They Use Technology To Unlock Value

Data-driven marketing is inherently a technical endeavour–while technical capabilities don’t equate with maturity, technology still plays a seminal role. Implementation of complex data-driven campaigns requires technology to access, understand, and deploy multiple data sources at scale. Our findings suggest that using an approach that encourages unification is what gives leaders the advantage.

Nearly one in four (37%) top performers are using in-house technology which ties together point solutions for different marketing goals–this compares to 24% of laggards. Leaders are also 45% more likely to use cloud-based technology that includes solutions across marketing goals.

Conversely, laggards are more reliant on individuals/teams to manage point solution capabilities (37% compared to 28% of leaders) or third parties for marketing execution and technology management (24% compared to 18% of leaders).

4. They Progress Towards A Whole Customer View

While two in five (38%) organisations reported that “better customer experience” is a top driver for using data in their marketing, there is clearly a gap between ambition and ground zero; only a fifth have created an actionable single customer view. Leaders are more than twice as likely to say that’s the case than the rest of the sample (35% versus 15%).

For laggards, the prospects over the next year are not much better, as only a fifth (versus half of leaders) say that they are currently implementing a single customer view (9%) or that it’s a budgeted priority for the next 12 months (13%).

Half (53%) of top performers say that the siloed nature of their organisation prevents them from making better use of data in marketing, compared to 70% of laggards. It’s no surprise then that the vast majority (88%) of laggards struggle with the merger of data points to achieve a whole customer view.

5. They Recognise The Importance Of Mobile

Even if data silos were removed and a collaborative culture were instilled, there is still a missing ingredient. Most organisations are failing to maximise data from the one platform that provides the most context and is becoming the cornerstone of modern marketing: mobile.

Some marketers already recognise the importance of incorporating mobile into their data efforts, but top performers are ahead of the pack. Across various types of mobile data, leaders are nearly twice as likely to leverage these insights compared to the rest. Identifying users across devices (43% vs. 23%) and collecting data on how mobile affects the customer journey (33% vs. 17%) are most noteworthy.

Which of the following apply to how your organisation uses data from mobile devices for marketing?

6. They Believe In Advanced Techniques

The ability to pay individual attention to customers at scale, identify high-value segments, and find audiences with similar attributes–or even predict what their behaviour will look like in the future–is one of the most exciting promises of data. Top-performing organisations use advanced techniques and mechanisms to move beyond layman’s uses of data.

For those with solid data strategies, we find greater likelihood that they understand and exploit these techniques as much as they can. Nearly a fifth (16%) of leaders are proficient with audience amplification, compared to only 5% for the rest of the sample. Predictive analytics is another area they excel at, as they’re twice as likely as their peers to say they have the technology and processes designed to predict the needs and behaviours of their customers and prospects.

While there’s no “right way” to pursue a data-driven marketing strategy, there is a correlation between long-term success and the factors above. We hope you find this research useful as you evaluate where your organisation is today and how it’s advancing into a data-driven future.

Download the Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing, “The Pursuit of Data-Driven Maturity,” here (access requires short registration).

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