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Data has always been important to marketers, but modern technology is making data-driven marketing ever-more complex (and difficult to pin down). As Stephanie Miller recently wrote, "Data is like air for marketers…" It’s everywhere, in everything–from server logs, web content, satellite data, scans, transactions, social media, videos, telemetry, audio files, and so much more.

Marketers have more data than they could possibly fully utilize in a timely manner, particularly in the fast-paced environs–where they are expected to dynamically stream and repurpose the data, on-the-fly (in as close to real-time as possible).

What is Data-Driven Marketing?

To put it simply, Data-Driven Marketing successfully analyzes the data. Then, based on the insights you derive from the combination of numerical values, attributes and other features, you can make estimates, compute likely outcomes, and ultimately make strategic decisions on how to act upon the onslaught of data.

Unfortunately, statistics appear to indicate that the vast majority of companies do not adequately consider the data before they proceed with marketing decisions. According to the Harvard Business Review, (HBR) "On average, marketers depend on data for just 11% of all customer-related decisions." What do the others rely on? Why "intuition," of course, according to a CEB survey.

Why is Data-Driven Marketing So Difficult (Or, Why Do Marketers Resist Numbers?)

According to the same HBR study, "77% of CEOs have trouble linking marketing efforts to tangible results, such as revenue, shares and conversions." They just don’t all have a knack for numbers (and data). Instead of building a team of data-hungry experts, who could fully understand and interpret the data, many organizations simply do not implement any kind of data-driven marketing approach at all.

It’s true that data is:

  • big (it seems overwhelming)
  • messy (it does not always fit into our expectations or requirements)
  • scary (we often fear what we don’t understand)

For good or bad, the complicating factors of Data-Driven Marketing do not (and will never) nullify the power and potential of the successfully implemented process. Data-Driven Marketing works, and if you want to tap into that, you need to leave behind the emotional baggage inspired by all those misconceptions.

Hire Your Data-Driven Marketer!

Of course, that’s not to say that you need to become a statistical guru overnight. Not everyone will be comfortable with numbers, no matter how hard they try! Fortunately, there are many, very competent, individuals who love numbers. Hire a whole team of them, and make sure that you are really on the cutting edge of Data-Driven Marketing.

The wave of the digital future is coming, whether you’re ready or not. You can embrace the new realities (with the need for competent expertise for Data-Driven Marketing); or you will eventually be dragged–kicking-and-screaming–into this present, Data-Driven reality.

In a 2012 Wired article, Tom Vanderbilt offers this quote from Anthony Levandowski: "We’re analyzing and predicting the world 20 times a second." If you look at our daily experience in that way, and if we know that so much of that data is captured (and it’s just waiting for analysis), just imagine how much more effective your marketing efforts will be–when you learn to put all that golden data to work for you…


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