The era of data-driven marketing analytics is a blessing for marketing professionals. Customers produce vast amounts of data every day, engaging with their favorite brands on social media, buying their products and services, and availing themselves of special discounts on email.
Earlier, even the most sophisticated marketing teams could not access the data. Marketing analytics was only restricted to data collected through large-scale surveys and questionnaires. Today, the right tools allow marketing analysts to leverage the data and deliver dramatic returns on marketing investment.
That is what we are supposed to think. The reality, however, is very different.
Marketing Analytics is Growing too Fast—and that’s a Problem
Every year, Gartner conducts its Marketing Data and Analytics Survey. The survey involves over 400 leaders in marketing research and marketing analytics consulting. According to last year’s survey, over 60% of marketing analytics practitioners spend most of their time integrating, formatting, and managing data. That’s right. Not analyzing and extracting insights. But integrating, formatting, and managing data.
Yes, the data pool, or ocean rather, at our disposal is a goldmine for consumer research. But that precisely is the problem. It’s too much to handle, let alone understand. And yes, rapid innovation in computing and data science has allowed marketing professionals to process it. But the tools can be so sophisticated that it’s unclear why they conclude what they conclude.
In other words, the rate of innovation is greater than the rate at which we understand these tools. If the trend continues, marketing analytics professionals will spend even more time on integrating, formatting, and managing data. Or they will have even less time to focus on analysis and building a marketing strategy.
No degree of investment in cutting-edge marketing analytics tools will translate to growth if analysts don’t know how to use them.
3 Ways Marketing Analytics Consulting can Help
Eliminating the education or skill gap is no minor challenge. In a Deloitte study involving over 400 chief marketing officers, the majority agreed that the lack of understanding of data science (78%) and data analytics (68%) is the biggest challenge to marketing analytics consulting.
But it’s not the whole story.
1. The Skills Gap
The world is becoming increasingly data-driven and automated, and the global workforce can no longer afford to not keep up. While soft skills like empathy remain equally important, your marketing analytics team must have a firm understanding of how data and data analytics function.
And that’s just the technical side of things. Excellent marketing consulting leaves teams with the intelligence to combine technology with business and creativity. The right mix is the difference between elite and average teams.
The right mix also leads to a holistic strategy. You don’t want analysts to work in silos, where one team collects and measures, another analysis, and the third integrates and builds the strategy. You want crosstalk and collaboration.
Data literacy is of utmost importance. Especially today, in the era of machine learning, when analysts often trust machine-produced insights blindly, instead of thinking critically about their origin.
2. The Tools
That said, expertise cannot produce results without the right tools.
Your customers are producing more data than ever before. They are also producing more types of data than ever before: geolocation, transactions, email receipts, web/app interactions, social media engagement. A major part of marketing consulting is identifying the right tools for your team to collect, process, analyze, and represent this data.
Tools complement analysts. An analyst builds a marketing strategy based on insights. But those insights are generated by tools. They find patterns in data that tell something about consumer behavior. It is up to the analyst to stitch those patterns together in a meaningful way and form a strategy.
As marketing data and its types grow in complexity, so will the tools. Teams better keep up.
3. Access to Data
Your team has the expertise. It has the tools. You have what it takes to use marketing analytics to improve your bottom line. But what if the data you use is inaccurate? Well, so will be the data-driven decisions you make. That’s…wasteful.
That’s the third-way marketing analytics consulting can help: by identifying the right data sources. Because insights and forecasts are only as accurate as the data fed to them.