5 Reasons Why Data-driven Marketing is Never about the Analytics

5 Reasons Why Data-driven Marketing is Never about the Analytics

I’ve been a marketing analytics specialist all my career at both B2B and B2C companies. I’ve experienced the rise of digital marketing first hand and I have the battle scars to show from the trials and errors of gathering and using data to measure marketing success. Sometimes I succeed in my assignments and sometimes I’ve failed to generate the business impact. Here are the things that would set you up for success in data-driven marketing.

  1. Content: The mantra ‘content is king’ is pretty well-established now, and you don’t need me to tell you the importance of great content in marketing. Smart marketers understand that they must deliver the right content—either content that they’ve created themselves or customer-generated—at the right time and through the right channels.  But many marketers are still puzzled or have different views about how to measure the effectiveness of the content.

However, there’s one thing that can’t be argued: if you do not have the right content to engage with your prospects/customers, measuring success becomes a futile exercise. You  need to know which customer segments you’re measuring, the content you’re using to offer them, and its purpose in the purchase cycle. And if you’re using advanced analytics tools, you’ll be able to target individuals or groups within companies, see where they are in the purchase cycle, and what content they’ve consumed—and shared.

It’s worthwhile sharpening your focus. For example, it would be pointless to measure the effectiveness of top-of-funnel  awareness content to audiences who’ve already signed up for a 30-day product trial.

Analytics can also help you identify the pieces of content that do well so you can make them work harder for you. For example, if you see that a blog series has worked well you could repurpose that content as an ebook offer or as materials for a webinar. By spreading the wealth of your content you’ll have more places to measure engagement.

  1. An eye toward details: In digital marketing it’s important to understand the data plumbing—how things are set up, the data sources, if and how the sources are integrated, what data is being generated, how it’s collected, and how effectiveness is being measured. It’s worthwhile doing a quick QA of a campaign that is about to launch so that you can see the kinds of data you’ll get back.

As a marketer, knowing how multi-touch attribution works and understanding the underpinnings behind the attribution numbers is crucial. if you do not understand how data is collected then you cannot present your case to your stakeholders in a convincing manner. You will quickly find yourself on a back foot rather on a front foot leading a discussion.

I’ve worked with marketers in the past who had to defer to their IT partners when asked basic questions about how they were measuring success. I didn’t feel very confident in their abilities as a digital marketer.

  1. Organization Structure: With as many as 70 percent of B2B buyers using digital media to complete more than half of the decison-making process before enagaging with sales[1], it’s critical that your digital teams aren’t siloed. If your web analytics, marketing automation, and paid media marketing teams report to different business units, it’s hard to create an integrated view across the customer base. Even if you provide customers with a seamless experience when they deal with your organization, how can you expect to generate insights from those customer interactions if you don’t have an end-to-end, single lens for analytics tracking.

I have seen many marketing organizations in a perpetual state of re-org, which hardly generates value for the customer, let alone provide useful marketing metrics. Constant re-orgs lead to anxiety and confusion for team members that affect the overall productivity of the marketing organization.

  1. Culture: Does your organization have a culture to succeed in the digital world? The most important element is bias towards taking an action. There are people from two schools of thought – one would say: “Bring the insights and recommendations into the meetings for the decision making. If you don’t, a decision will be made regardless.” Their decisions will be based on prior experiences or gut feel. The other would say: “I do not trust the data,” and demands to know where, how, and when the data was collected. This camp would refrain from taking meaningful actions and wasting organizational resources.

In my career, I have learned to work in an environment that has a bias towards taking an action.  Successful marketers learn from their mistakes and channel their energy on how to do things better next time.

  1. Divergent vs. Convergent Thinking: Marketers who will succeed in the digital age are divergent in their thinking rather than convergent. Convergent mindsets mattered when marketing activities were inefficient. Convergent mindsets focus on developing business processes, project management and following the norms. Now, as marketing technologies, such as marketing automation gain popularity, we’re on the efficiency frontier scale. What we need is a divergent mindset to measure the effectiveness of marketing – how can we increase the online engagement and customer satisfaction score, and shorten the time it take convert prospects into paying customers.

What has been your experience as a digital marketer? I’d like to hear your views on the factors that are shaping marketing teams in 2016 and beyond.

[1] CEB Marketing Leadership Council, “The Digital Evolution in B2B Marketing.”


  • Todd Genovese

    Nice thought piece Anish. #5 especially resonated with my observations, as I find many large traditional Retail cultures transitioning to omni-channel are struggling to understand the urgency of the pivot you describe. The challenge with the pivot is that it often manifests itself in the smartest and most forward-thinking human capital in the enterprise necessarily being the most misunderstood or least disagreeable. Change management ease or difficulty set aside for a moment, some of those “would be” omni-channel success stories don’t know how to walk the walk yet, by embracing and supporting disagreement toward a better collective outcome. I was fortunate to witness unconstrained acceptance #5 at AMZN, and I would argue it is a strategic advantage of pureplay eCommerce over multi/omni-channel players today, since it is foundational behavior to the pureplay folks.

    • anish jariwala

      Thanks Todd for your comments. As AMZN always says – Work Hard, Have Fun and Create History. History part essentially comes from divergent thinking. I am glad you and many of our friends went to AMZN and were part of the amazing success story.

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