In a recent conversation with a chief technology officer, he asserted all digital technology changes in his organisation were being led by IT and not by marketing. It made me wonder: How long a marketing function like this could survive?
According to the new ExactTarget Marketing Cloud 2014 State of Marketing Survey, data and analytics will dominate marketing investments in 2014.
In light of such findings, and the exponential growth in how marketers are utilising big data insights to better their customer intelligence and engagements, we’ve asked five global chief marketing officers (CMO), analytics technology providers and industry analysts to share their views on where the data and analytics spotlight will shine over the next 12 months.
Mindjet CMO, Jascha Kaykas-Wolff: The year of operational reckoning
2014 stands to be a year of reckoning for marketing tech. Even with economic instability, the last few years have been a seller’s boon in the marketing technology world. The converging trends of instantly available real-time data, subscription pricing and the low cost of entry for marketing technology products have seen marketing leaders blowing up the number of technology investments they have made in the past. And so I believe 2014 will bring a renewed focus on marketing’s operations.
I see three emerging trends that will set a strong foundation for marketing innovations well beyond next year:
- The rise of marketing operations: As marketing leaders continue to drive much of the IT spend across companies, 2014 will bring the most clarity we’ve ever seen in the function of marketing operations. The hybrid of process and technology owners living in marketing will firmly secure their leadership seat at the table.
- The actual, practical application of data: Although big data has been all the rage for the past few years, its practical use in marketing has been reserved for those who have invested in data scientists and/or in a substantial technical stack. With products like Lattice Engines, Leadspace, Infer and more showing huge benefits out of the gate for their customers, the applied value of big data has finally become easily attainable for marketing.
- That less is more: The proverbial cup of marketing technology investments has been filled to its peak surface tension. 2014 will be a year of consolidation both on the vendor’s side (acquisitions and mergers) and the buyer’s side (buying more from fewer vendors).
Forrester VP and research director, Michael Barnes: Time to embrace flexibility
To effectively serve increasingly empowered customers, CMOs must more fully embrace data analytics in 2014. Australia organisations must be more flexible, agile and connected than ever before. In fact, they need to be customer-obsessed. Digital technologies have empowered customers with the information necessary to dictate their expectations.
Organisations must provide superior customer experiences to stay competitive. The emergence of increasingly accessible digital tools is an opportunity for CMOs and CIOs to jointly help their organisations to better engage customers. As technology's importance in customer experience rises, successful CMOs will seek ways to better understand what customers want and how to deliver it.
The value of big data, including real-time data, is to drive customer insights and more intelligent decision-making that directly impacts customer perceptions and purchase decisions. CMOs and CIOs must work together to improved customer experience by enabling data-driven insight and the ability to present value in context and engage buyers whey they are most interested.
Customers are increasingly mobile enabled and connected – and now expect access to any information, service or product on whatever device they’re using, in context, at their moment of need. Organisations must therefore have the ability to capture the profile, history, and context of customers and place relevant information and services in front of them. Beyond big data, businesses must also better link technology to their products or services using sensors to both enhance the offer and inform the marketing team at the same time.
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Deloitte CMO, David Redhill: One-to-one communication using data responsibly
The ‘holy grail’ of how data can help you as a marketer, and the end game for a customer-centric business, is in targeting markets of one, and making every consumer or customer a market within itself. You absolutely understand the individual needs, preferences, desires and you strike the right balance between intrusion and responding to them. That’s a very fine line to tread.
Businesses are increasingly using data smartly. The next stage is about what several industry experts call ‘SMAC’ – social, mobile, analytics and cloud. It’s about integrating what these four dimensions provide you with. If smartphone usage and the personality of the owner can be combined with SMAC, or the preferences and needs of the market of one, then marketers gain the ability to provide individuals with the products, services, capabilities, and opportunities that really suit them. It’s tailored to their needs and is done in real time.
But CMOs should not only focus on getting the data feedback loop together quickly, but also on making appropriate responses. Marketers can’t be seen to disrespect privacy, or be acting inappropriately in how they communicate, use data insights and deliver messages.
Boots in the UK example, is using data to come back to customers continually with offers and tailored preferences. The point where customers may resent this activity is when they haven’t got the right details on the database or are slow to respond.
But a lined is crossed when a supermarket’s financial services and life insurance arm connects a customer’s in-store purchase history of tobacco and alcohol products to the claim and application. Stitching those elements together is seen as an invasion of privacy and stepping over the ‘creepy line’.
Getting this data balance right is therefore a priority for marketers. The concerns so far have been dealing with this immensely powerful new tool of data; the number crunching and logic to extract interesting insights; making it easy to engage with a brand and appropriately expressing your message; finding customer insights in the oceans of data; and getting the best analysts to work for you.
How you then use data, and how well you use it, is going to be a major focus for marketers over the next couple of years.
Another emerging area with the potential to change things in the future is this concept of ‘community usage’… Whether it’s online trade between communities that go around the supermarkets and department stores [to exchange goods], musical instrument hire places or taxi companies, what these groups are doing is making the community the core brand story. They are disintermediating the big brands.
If marketers can get involved in these new transactions with people, make it easier for individuals to get involved, and align their brands with the interests of these communities using the data they’ve already got as traditional relationship owners to make those community relationships better, then they can build and strengthen those relationships. Currently, brands own the relationship, but that is built on trust; the brand is looking out for the customer and acting in their best interests. If marketers allow communities of interest to disintermediate them though, it’s game over.
As a marketer, walking the fine line between intrusion and being seen to be acting in the interests of the customer is a huge opportunity. Anticipating what those communities might want through new products and services is all in the data. It’s a matter of figuring out what the data is telling you, analysing, anticipating and intervening to make things go more easily for your consumer.
The real challenge is figuring out what questions you want answered. If you have a market to crack, and can shine the light on that, that leads to other questions and becomes an island of data supporting truth and clarity. Start small, and get some little successes on the board before you expand your data agenda.
Anametrix president and CEO, Pelin Thorogood: Delivering actionability, not just ROMI
In 2013, return on marketing investment (ROMI) became a critical measure of success for CMOs, with most marketers putting speedy gathering, interpretation and application of data-driven insights as a top priority. Unfortunately, however, what still shows up on marketing dashboards across enterprises are merely descriptive metrics that don’t deliver understanding or actionability on their own.
These dashboards don’t convey any system interdependency and correlation among the various consumer engagement channels. Worse, they can mislead, becoming the wrong indicators of actual performance.
CMOs need to go beyond ‘current state’ reporting that all too often passes for analytics, and understand the actual levers of change in their increasingly complex environments. They need to understand not just the ‘what’, but also the ‘why’, ‘when’ and ‘what if’ by leveraging analytics for true decision support.
This next-gen approach will require access to real-time, granular multichannel data that can be analysed in real time to reveal hidden relationships and shed new insights into critical business decisions.
The good news is that we are moving into an era when we can monitor, analyse, and most importantly, act on the high volume, variety and velocity of data ever more rapidly to enable right-time marketing. And those CMOs that leverage analytics for decision support in 2014 will reap tremendous benefits.
BlueKai senior vice-president of marketing, Cory Treffiletti: The rise of second-party data
Second-party data is the new data strategy for creating competitive marketing advantage. First party information, or converted audiences, has always been the most prized form of data but many marketers still need more scale. It also doesn’t expose a brand to new untapped customers for activities such as prospecting.
Third-party data is the answer for prospecting but some will argue that everyone has access to this as a data asset. Many innovative BlueKai marketers lean on first-party data and analytics to help guide more meaningful data buying. Methods such as act-a-like and look-a-like modelling have been used with great success to drive scale and relevance unique to a marketer’s own data intelligence about their customers and best prospects.
A new and emerging way to build a competitive data asset is through second-party data relationships and is a happy convergence of the two methods above. Two or more symbiotic partners come together to share data assets to further each other’s businesses, bringing scale and relevant audiences to bear. This could be a hotel chain with an online travel site, a computer manufacturer with an electronics retail store, ticketing services with sports teams and artists, and so on.
We see this as a growing trend of 2014, emphasising the growing sophistication of data usage with key partners as a competitive advantage to drive sales.