Why marketers need to become data fluent

Robert Dagge, MD at Dynistics, believes real-time data visualisation can make a real difference in driving the strategic importance of marketing

Robert Dagge, MD at Dynistics, believes real-time data visualisation can make a real difference in driving the strategic importance of marketing

Measuring the ROI of marketing activities has always been one of the top challenges for marketers, not least because proving this goes hand-in-hand with making an argument to increase budget: no ROI tracking, no demonstrable ROI, no budget.

However, with many companies now tightening their belts, marketing spend is often the first to be cut. The ability to align marketing activity to the rest of the business and demonstrate ROI is therefore critical.

The biggest asset

There’s no denying data has become the biggest asset of sales and marketing teams. After all, meaningful insights enable businesses to understand the customer experience as well as measure and plan how enhanced engagement can lead to an increase in sales. The growth of digital marketing has significantly increased the level of fragmented data. As a result, the challenge of how to extract these insights and turn them into actionable impact has never been greater.

To help prove that marketing results directly impact sales, teams need the right tools and attribution processes to track their efforts and ultimately to leads and sales. Consequently, analytics has become an integral part of all marketing decision making. According to the Global Review of Data-Driven Marketing and Advertising, 49% of marketers believe data-driven marketing maximises effectiveness as far as strategy implementation is concerned. An encouraging 69% of those surveyed also said they intend to increase their budgets for data-driven marketing in the year ahead.

However, data-driven marketing requires all marketers to understand and know how to use the data they hold. After all, the only useful data is actionable data. Every channel, customer touchpoint, and marketing system has its own data which makes for significant intelligence – and marketers should be turning this data into actionable insights for the executive team. As soon as data becomes available, campaign owners should be able to interpret it and benchmark campaigns against each other. Without the ability to measure this data accurately, a business doesn’t have the information to grow its bottom line and achieve an advantage over competitors.

But while data is key when it comes to gauging customer experience or measuring ROI, it’s not always easy to make sense of it all. Ensuring every single activity is tracked, managed and a corresponding ROI is provided takes time – and a lot of it. Combined with having to get to grips with the digital transformation currently taking place, marketers are therefore under increasing pressure to find ways of speeding up the management and interpretation of their data.

Data-driven marketing strategies demand that practitioners develop comprehensive, definitive, end-to-end knowledge when it comes to their companies’ operations and audience engagement. In short, they need to be ‘data fluent’ across all areas. But most marketers don’t want to become multilingual in this way. Instead they want their marketing tools to make unifying, cleansing and matching customer data a more automated process. They want data visualisation tools to help them identify metrics that really matter – and be fluent only in the data they need.

Visual creatures

Humans are visual creatures, and many of us absorb and understand information better when we receive data visually. According to Business to Community, the human brain is more accustomed to processing images, often processing visuals 60,000 times faster than text. However, this is only possible if the complexity of data doesn’t overwhelm people. Data visualisation tools enable marketers to refine their data fluency, collating data from multiple sources and presenting it in one single format. With data silos gone, marketers have everything needed to start working with custom KPI formulas and identifying the metrics important to the business.

Ultimately, data visualisation tools can integrate marketing activities with the rest of the business and help marketers make informed decisions on where to dedicate spend. Using a single system allows comparisons across all platforms rather than relying on individual representations that may not work from the same fixed point, resulting in skewed results. It can also help change the company mindset from seeing marketing as a department to a company initiative with collective goals.

The reality is that successful marketing in the digital age is data-driven, and online real-time data visualisation can help provide the route to real ROI. These smart intelligence tools take the guesswork out of campaign analytics, meaning marketers give more than ‘good enough’ insight on marketing spend to senior decision makers forecasting and investing in their company’s brand. The insight visualisation now provides can make a real difference in driving the strategic importance of marketing – demonstrating true ROI in the growth and effectiveness of a brand.

Dynistics is a specialist in business intelligence dashboard software.

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