Put CMOs at the Center of a Powerful Data Strategy
Hot off the press, a new report by Forrester offers actionable advice for CMOs on how to skillfully leverage their company’s data. Titled “The CMO’s Guide To An Enterprise Data Strategy” by Analyst Stephanie Lui and Researcher Melissa Bongarzone, this in-depth research explores the most common enterprise data mistakes—from hoarding too much of it to creating silos—and why marketing chiefs play a key role in making the most out of the data companies collect.
With insights included from our Global EVP Tyler Pietz, the report stresses an important takeaway: brand, marketing, finance and data managers have a lot to gain from working closely together and building cross-functional integration systems. To that regard, we believe that while companies may invest in different tools for each department, the way each one manages data should be a more general decision that takes into account the broader business context. Seeing the full picture is pivotal to success, and we can only do that with complete, well-organized, integrated data systems.
Keep the enterprise goals in sight.
As Pietz says in the report, “The CMO’s role is to take business insights and bring them to market so value can be realized.” That means turning the data strategy into something actionable. CMOs are responsible for identifying the tactics that will help the business achieve its goals—and things like profitability, revenue drivers and risk management are important factors to weigh as they carry out strategies to attract leads, move into new markets and beyond.
They should spend time with brand managers to understand what they’re seeing in their world. Doing so can surface opportunities for product innovation, authentic connections with consumers, or understanding buying patterns for specific categories.
To get there, however, CMOs need access to a comprehensive view of the brand’s consumer data—and the more departments and data points it encompasses, the better. But here’s where it gets tricky. Forrester’s findings show that 37% of B2C marketing decision-makers say driving decision-making with customer insights is one of their organization’s biggest marketing execution challenges. Rather than a skills issue, we believe this is due to structural problems that leave marketing leaders drowning in disorganized data, as well as a disconnect between departments.
Before collecting more data, learn to control it.
With changing privacy laws and platform restrictions, CMOs are hungry for new first-party data collection methods and alternative data sources. This is great, as first-party data is at the heart of any digital maturity and transformation journey. However, it’s important to remember that building a strong enterprise data strategy is not about acquiring as much data as possible; rather, it’s about extracting the most value from it.
To do so, we need to start by establishing solid data foundations that ensure the information we have is accessible, timely, trustworthy and fit for purpose. While hiring new services like analytics tools and buying platforms is easy, the real challenge is to bridge together all of those data sources and systems in ways that allow us to see the full picture.
If data lives in disparate environments, that leads to low quality. And if we have to spend all our time harmonizing that data rather than using it, we’re wasting time and, consequently, money.
To deliver a great customer experience, create cross-functional data systems.
In addition to establishing solid data foundations, leveraging your data to its full potential also demands getting rid of departmental silos. While teams often consider only the data that is available to them, it’s possible to unlock additional expertise if we bank on stronger integration capabilities across channels, data sources and technologies.
When teams operate in silos and data works in isolation, so does experimentation. This inevitably leads to random acts of marketing and chaotic reporting. Rather than siloing teams, data should unify them—even if they have totally different KPIs.
Marketing teams, for example, may look at lead generation and engagement, while product teams focus on retention and acquisition. However, you need all metrics to get a clear view of the customer, and so you’ll achieve better results if they aren’t tracked separately.
As Forrester says in their report, determining a customer’s next-best experience requires “an orchestra of IT, data science, risk and compliance, marketing, sales and service, and CX.” To get high-quality customer insights, CMOs must look beyond their marketing-specific perspectives and collaborate with their counterparts across departments. Complaints and inventory may not be part of marketing’s responsibilities, but they surely impact the customer experience. Ads for out-of-stock products are a major turn-off for consumers, and nobody likes a brand that continues to do out-of-touch marketing while ignoring the countless complaints in their inboxes and social media comments.
The bottom line is, everyone can benefit from being aligned on what type of data will help the business thrive and how to track it, but CMOs play one of the most important roles in squeezing the juice out of it. While marketing leaders can’t design a fully-fledged data strategy on their own, they are the ones who take these consumer insights and turn them into marketing programs that bring the desired results for the business. Instead of focusing on collecting huge volumes of data, work on unifying these sets in an organized, secure environment, and you’ll find yourself instinctively making data-driven decisions.
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