Little doubt should remain that data-driven marketing has broad potential. Leading brands, like NY Times, Disney, Wal-Mart, Intuit and Geico prove its worth every day. There is also a strongly collaborative community of digital measurement specialists (see Twitter #measure), committed to helping each other get more value from data and celebrate better conversion rates. The weak link though is buy-in from the creative side of marketing, to be driven by data.
Gartner’s recently published survey on data-driven marketing shows most organizations understand the potential of analytics. They allocate an average of 21% of their marketing budget towards analytics. A survey summary is freely available at this link.
What the survey doesn’t show is how effectively organizations use the results of analysis and how efficiently they spend their analytics budget. How much of that analytics budget is wasted? Getting value from data is more difficult than sitting in the CMO captain’s chair and commanding; “make it so”.
The selection of tools available to the data-driven marketer is already nothing short of amazing. You can tell which campaigns are attracting your audience, how people behave, create micro-segments and target an individual based on context. But, what good is all of this if you don’t know what will persuade your users to take action, or are unwilling to expose creative ideas to the transparency of an A/B test?
Analytics tell you what is working and are pretty good at predicting what will work, but someone has to think up the possibilities in the first place. New ideas takes creativity and analytics can help people that are creative do things better. The best work gets done within the intersection of art and science. Organizations that figure this out first have a marketing advantage over those that come around more slowly.
Where should you focus your data-driven efforts? On the data, of course.
- Hire talent that knows the science of analytics, but has passion for the artistic side of marketing.
- Measure everything you can. Build telemetry into the development process of online applications, content and campaigns. Mash with externally purchased and internal data.
- Embed analytics into every marketing decision where it makes sense. Train the creative folks, so it becomes essential to their work.
- Create an independent analytics omnibus to measure results from the CMO’s point of view. Here, all individually optimized tasks come together into (ideally) harmony with business goals.
Bottom Line: The science behind data-driven marketing works, but works best when there is trust, not suspicion among the creative staff.
Points for discussion – what have you seen work, or not work, to enlarge the intersection of the art and science of digital marketing? Do you agree it is important?