Seven obstacles to fostering a marketing analytics-based culture [GALLERY]

What are some of the barriers in creating a truly analytics-driven culture in any organisation?

Speakers at the first Analytics Interactive conference organised by Marketing magazine highlighted a few key areas.

1. Legal issues – Depending on how much customer data you have, legal will be an issue and this varies from company to company and by markets.

2. IT issues – Brands need to make sure they have the required hardware and software to store data and access it at a speed they want.

3. More importantly are the barriers in capturing data and doing so accurately. While some industries such as banking and telco boast a data set with much higher accuracy, others don’t. “Especially those who still deploy staff to manually collect data are at a higher risk. Marketers not only need to ensure they are capturing data efficiently; they need to testify to the veracity of the data,” said Pádraig Flynn, head of analytics at MediaCom APAC.

According to Jeannie Ong, CMO of StarHub, a lack of credible data creates another problem – a reluctant marketer. If the data is not accurate, a “traditional marketer” will use that as an excuse for not building a data-led approach to marketing.

“The tendency for them to fall back in their traditional way of doing marketing is very, very real when they have doubts over the data you provide them.”

4. Skill set is another challenge. Brands can use statisticians and econometricians or any other vendor, but what is needed is an in-house data expert who will make sense of the work of these external parties.

5. Reluctance to drive change is another obstacle. Lack of acceptance and support from the C-suite is a huge challenge, said Yap Lee Yee, marketing director of AP at Panduit. “Their support will create a culture in which staff will be analytics oriented.”

Sandeep Mittal, founder and managing director of Cartesian Consulting, shared an example from Domino’s. A few years back, he met a person from the company whose designation was “precision marketing manager.”

Domino’s created a cell internally called the “precision marketing division” which sits in between marketing and IT and does the role of translating and bringing messages back and forth and it is mandated with the task of getting analytics right.

“It used to be a one-person team and now it has four. And other companies who have followed a similar structure are now looking at having large teams just in precision marketing roles. That’s not a bad way to creating culture. It reflects the internal buy-in and the commitment to becoming truly data-driven.

6. Not knowing what to analyse – Analytics for business insights and analytics for campaigns are two very separate things. The results you will get will be very different, Mittal said.

7. Multiple databases and the need for a massive clean up – Not only that, but many companies with a very long history have loads of data stored on Excel that is not even in the database. So how do brands start?

“The key thing is identifying, perhaps with a project, what objective you are trying to attain and then start with the cleaning up of that database or Excel with customer information,” Yee said. And this is something which requires both marketing and IT to be involved.

Often data overlaps and contradicts itself. That’s when you need to decide what is the singular truth and what is the ongoing conflicting data in your business, according to Flynn.

While cleaning up data is all good and nice, what exactly are you going to get out of it? According to Gurmit Singh, the digital marketing business leader at Visa, that concern needs to be addressed at the start. A good way to look at it is to identify the best customers and the best churners. “The fact is some people make you more money than others do and you need to use your data to find those people so you can target them,” he said.

Over-reliance on data and its pitfalls

On the other end of the spectrum, an unnecessary reliance on data can be dangerous for brands as well, said speakers. “Depending 100% on data is dangerous and scary,” said StarHub’s Ong, adding that a narrative and good storytelling is equally important.

“In StarHub, at least, I don’t use data 100%, much to the dismay of my data scientists and analysts. That’s because when it comes to marketing you need to allow the marketers the room to be creative. It’s a 80-20 rule for us; you’ve got to base your decisions on data, but you also need to trust the intuitive instinct of a marketer.”

However, when it comes to the future of marketing – whether it should be led by analytics or creative – Yee, of Panduit, says creative is still an important part of marketing, with analytics its sidekick.

“Accountability is what lends marketing credibility and analytics helps in achieving it, but in my view marketing is responsible for 70% of the buying process because it is influencing buyers at every step of the journey through content. So marketers play a much more important part.”

If you go for one or the other you will be going off the rails, says Flynn. While people will have a natural instinct for either data or creativity, a good marketer, according to Flynn, will be a T-shape – having speciality function in-depth and the breadth of creativity on top to manage people and the team.

“If you were to manage your business purely based on data I would be very worried. In essence in the digital era we have a great amount of data, but at the end of the day we are trying to drive a car while looking at the rear view mirror. It is fine when the road is straight, but you need a creative to tell you when the road will turn. So data can take you where you want to go the most efficient way possible, but creative has to tell you where to go.”

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