Big Data Marketing: Five steps to go from information to insights to invoice


In a world of exploding social and mobile media, change is needed for corporate marketing to move from ‘the Dark Ages’ to the ‘Age of Enlightened Data.’ Decision-making has to become much more moment-to-moment and accurate in a world of Big Data, and while startups are moving nimbly in this new world, larger incumbents need to re-boot and re-launch.

Lisa Arthur’s new book Big Data Marketing: Engage your customers more effectively and drive value provides a strategic road map for business leaders who want to start driving competitive advantage and top line growth.

Companies face a number of marketing challenges today: many processes and collaterals are still in manual or analog mode, mergers & acquisitions have complicated marketing efforts, and there is a lot of data fragmentation and data silos (which Arthur effectively calls the ‘data hairball’). Customer data is often created and owned separately by marketing, customer service, physical retail, e-commerce and sales departments.

Lisa Arthur, the Chief Marketing Officer for Teradata Applications, has interacted with a wide range of CMOs and draws on their experiences and stories. Teredata Applications itself begin as a startup in integrated marketing software, and Arthur’s insights will also be useful for other startups in this space to better understand how to pitch their B2B2C offerings.

Marketing is not just about catchy phrases and pretty pictures but about capturing, integrating and analysing data of all types, especially from the booming online world. Data-driven marketing, including Big Data (high volumes of high-speed unstructured and multi-structured data), will be needed to better engage current customers and capture new ones. But the cultural shift needed here will be characterised by deeper inquiry, creativity and growth -- as well as fear, misunderstanding and confusion.

Research firm Gartner predicts that by 2017, corporate spending on marketing will outstrip IT spending. Marketing organisations will spend more money on technology than IT organisations do. Some companies are already merging the CMO post with CIO (Chief Information Officer), and there will soon be a new role for Chief Digital Officer who will collaborate extensively with the Chief Customer Experience Officer.

“Creativity is increasingly judged not only in the human imagination, but also in clickthroughs, conversions and lift,” explains Big Data expert Tom Davenport in the foreword (see also my review of his book, Big Data @ Work).

“More data does not equal the right data, and data alone does not equal insights,” Arthur warns. Big Data marketing is encompassing integrated marketing management (IMM), marketing operations management, marketing resource management, customer interaction management, digital marketing and digital messaging. This will call for an increased role for Data Scientists, who combine quantitative analysis with qualitative insights (‘half data geek, half business analyst’).

The book is well written and practical, with a conversational style and healthy dose of humour. Each chapter ends with a list of terminology and tips, and there is a useful online companion. Here are my key takeaways from Lisa Arthur’s five steps for data-driven marketing.

1. Get Smart, Get Strategic

Map the path to purchase for your customers and see how you can improve marketing effectiveness of the point solutions on this path. Revisit this map as technology and trends change. Classify your marketing approaches into the following types: customer interaction, analytics, data, technology and organisation. See how you can integrate marketing assets such as collaterals, budgets, workflows, segmentation and campaigns.

2. Tear down the silos

Consolidate data, systems and processes that involve customers. Harvard professor Ranjay Gulati describes the “Four Cs” of customer-focused solutions: collaboration, coordination, connection and capability. Get marketing, sales and customer service teams to interact more, and use storytelling to produce compelling narratives and crisp content. The CMO and CIO should become ‘best friends.’ Bring in data scientists to drive revenue.

3. Untangle the data hairball

Outline the key business questions to answer, and identify the data requirements. Build a visual map between data and systems. Create the ‘single source of truth’ by integrating the data. Start with approaches to solve the critical customer needs first, or choose the low hanging fruit. Test, expand and evolve the approach to getting the ‘golden record’ of the customer.

4. Make metrics your mantra

Metrics are the cornerstone of accountability. Use more effective aligned metrics in Big Data marketing: demand generation, customer satisfaction, sales productivity, brand awareness, market leadership and marketing effectiveness. Sample outcomes can be better targeting in email campaigns, reduced expenses due to better digitised workflow, lower cost to acquire a B2B customer, less confusion due to clearer ‘jargon,’ better visibility via financial tracking of marketing spend, and more consistent communication across channels.

5. Process is the new black

“Process is sexy,” says Arthur, it is now the new black. In an earlier era, Philip Kotler famously defined the “Four Ps” of marketing – product, price, placement and promotion. Gartner’s Kim Collins proposes a fresh updated set of “Four Ps” – people, processes, performance and profit. Integrated marketing is the true integration of data, processes, campaigns, channels and insights. EMMcare’s Jason Grice sees marketing process management and automation technology as key to marketing organisation and success. Attention to process will help marketing become more fast-paced, responsive and interactive. ‘Agile’ processes in automation and innovation will now be applied to marketing as well, and help speed up the move from ‘concept to campaign to cash.’

In practical terms, Arthur offers some useful principles. Don’t boil the ocean, start with small steps. Think big but start small. Don’t stagnate and get stuck in pilot mode. Design metrics around the customer. Don’t indulge in ‘spray and pray’ email campaigns or intrusive SMS advertising. Respect user privacy. Act now, don’t wait -- complexity will keep increasing.

“Success today depends on accepting change. Success tomorrow will depend on driving change,” Arthur explains. Organisational change will come not just from painting the vision but inspiring teams to deliver in a creative fail-safe environment.

The book also has a range of useful case studies. Shop Direct consolidated its data and used digital to track consumer behaviour; it saw 28 per cent uplift in email campaigns and 50 per cent decrease in printed catalogue costs. CitiBank uses data from its Thank You rewards programme to support cross-selling in the contact centre.

TeraData has a Demand Gen Council to align sales and marketing. KeyBank is transforming itself into an insights-driven organisation. Warner Bros operates in 840 market segments, with 2,500 suppliers; its integrated marketing plan helps make real-time data-driven decisions.

International Speedway Corporation (ISC) created an interactive integrated marketing platform called fanMAX to connect with four million fans in its 13 motor sports entertainment facilities, and has come up with a more effective segmentation of their trends, habits and value. “Data is king,” says ISC marketing manager Jenelle Kueter. The company has identified 2,400 micro-segments, reduced time to market for new campaigns, and improved effectiveness of its 1,000 email campaigns, up from earlier levels of 250 email campaigns.

Arthur urges business leaders to act now before it becomes too late. She cites Shell Palmer, author of ‘Digital Wisdom’: “The rate of technological change will never be slower than it is today.” She also cites Ray Kurzweil’s prophetic quote from his book The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology: “We won’t experience 100 years' progress in the 21st century – it will be more like 20,000 years of progress at today’s rate,” because the pace of technological change is exponential and converging across sectors.

It took about 30 years to connect the first two billion people to the Internet, but it will take only another eight years to connect the next two billion – and that will totally change the world of business and marketing. Omnichannel commerce, specially mobile commerce, will be the way to go. Data is now a competitive differentiator, especially data combined with insights. It will help companies move from just broadcast mode to customer engagement and empowerment modes.

Marketers must balance the science of numbers with the art of creativity,” Arthur sums up, referring to it as ‘Michaelangelo meets Einstein.’ “The only way to truly fail is to fail to get started,” she adds.

About the author:

Lisa Arthur (Twitter: @LisaArthur) is Chief Marketing Officer for Teradata Applications, and has 30 years of experience in the industry. Her recent honours include DMNews 2013 “Marketing Hall of Femme” honouring today's top women marketers, the American Business Association's 2012 Gold “Stevie Award” for Marketing Executive of the Year, and in both 2012 and 2011 she was named a “Woman to Watch” by the Sales and Lead Management Association. She earlier founded Cinterim, a Silicon Valley consulting firm for startups, and was CMO at Akamai Technologies and VP at Oracle.



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