Data has forever changed the business world and the metrics by which employee performance at every level of the organization is measured. Given the explosion in consumer data, CMOs and their Marketing teams are perhaps the most impacted by this change. Making sense of data in real-time is at the heart of today’s customer/brand relationships.
While it is undoubtedly an asset, this abundance of data also creates challenges. The Marketing mandate to get the right message in front of the right customer at the right time has a corresponding requirement on the data side. As a recent Deloitte survey found, “knowing how to use customer data and analytics” is the single most important factor driving CMO success today. It’s not enough just to collect data; marketers need it to be actionable. Just as important, marketers need to reach decisions informed by that data quickly and without the manual labor associated with managing disparate spreadsheets and reports that take away from strategic thinking.
The best way to accomplish this is for Marketing and Tech to partner up. Each team brings a unique perspective to evaluating needs and building systems, tools, and processes that bring together data from a variety of sources. Modern business data that drives decisioning is stored in multiple sources, including Media platforms, Offline data, Marketing Automation, CRM platforms, and Web Analytics. While these sources of data weren’t created with interoperability in mind, holistic solutions are achievable, provided that the CMO and CTO can align on a unifying organizational construct. In a word, it boils down to synchronization.
As a CTO, I’m tempted to explain the process of synchronization by describing how computer networks function. However, as I’ve learned from my Marketing colleagues, it’s important to know your audience. Heeding their advice, I’ll talk about it by using a more universal analogy—building a home.
You start by creating a list of your ‘must-haves’—everything you need in the structure to make sure it meets your needs. Next, you draw up the blueprints, which map out how people will move throughout the house, where they’ll interact, sleep, eat and store their stuff.
Within the context of Marketing data, this phase is the opportunity to identify the various types of data that need to be collected. Think about when the data will be separated to provide granular performance insight, and when it will roll up to offer a comprehensive overview of performance. It’s also time to start thinking about the safety and security of the data to ensure you maintain control while enabling your team to weaponize themselves. The next step, laying the foundation, is a core part of that process.
A solid foundation sets the parameters for the shape and layout of the home and makes it possible to build from the ground up. This is the phase where you decide the scale and positioning of the property – do you want a smaller, more intimate home or space to spread out? As you progress, you tackle installing the roof and framing out the walls, putting in pipes for water and gas, wires for electrical and vents for airflow. This process ensures that the house will support the needs of your lifestyle.
For marketers, this is the moment where individual systems are connected to the larger architecture that is the organization’s data infrastructure. This is when your data starts to take on a life of its own.
Finally, as we get closer to the finish line, the drywall goes up, the flooring goes down, the walls are painted, and the final touches are put into place. In a home, these last elements are both functional and stylistic. Inside a synchronized marketing system, the final touches are all about creating usable insights, reports, and dashboards so that everyone from the CMO down can quickly identify meaningful insights and begin acting on the knowledge gained.
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Of course, you have to live in a house to test if everything works together over time. Can you use the oven and the microwave at the same time without blowing a fuse? Do the lights work when the air conditioning is on? Along the same lines, you have to work inside of a synchronized Marketing system to ensure functionality and measure increases in performance over time. Does the technology free up specialists, individual contributors, middle managers and ultimately, ensure the CMO can use data to see positive returns on their investment?
Just like when building a house, CMOs have many different options when building a synchronized Marketing system. They can choose to put the pieces together themselves in the same way that you can go to your local home improvement store to purchase lumber, pipes, and drywall, but without experience in all involved areas, this process can be expensive and time-consuming.
Or, they can bring in specialists for particular tasks and still manage the project themselves. This is equivalent to building your data engineering and analytics team in-house. Finally, they can find a builder with experience in building houses and work with them. This process carries significantly less risk, and with the right builder you can still end up with a house that has all the special character you want.
One obvious indicator of synchronization is the amount of time your team spends collecting and synthesizing data. If the process is primarily driven by manually manipulating various spreadsheets and reports, time is being wasted. That kind of repetitive labor doesn’t just waste time, it hurts morale. After all, marketers are hired to be strategic thinkers, not clerical workers.
At its core, synchronization is a means of improving the ROI of Marketing. Just as the right message in front of the right customer at the right time can have a lasting impact on a successful customer relationship, so too does the corresponding data mandate empower marketers to deliver maximum value to the organization. There’s an ancillary benefit to synchronization that should not be overlooked. A marketer who can use data to see the big picture and focus on granular details in time to drive impact is confident.
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