Distilling data into insights to drive business decisions

Data is the key to effective marketing nowadays. While collecting good data and big data is not the easiest task in and of itself, gaining insights from data to apply effectively in a business is often far more complex. During the round table, “Mastering data to drive better business decisions”, in collaboration with Domo, senior marketers from 19 major brands in different industries revealed their tactics to capitalise on data.

“We need to have a very rich profile of customers to make decisions,” said Stella Wei, director of CRM at Shangri-La International Hotel Management. Because it can only collect limited data, it decided to work with other retail partners to obtain more, such as how much customers spend or frequency of purchase, which helps for better marketing planning. Marketers not only have to determine what kind of data is the most important to collect, but also how to integrate the data into the marketing strategy.

Rosanna Lee, head of marketing at Hutchison Global Communications, suggested there were two different approaches to employing data when strategising for a campaign. The frst one is pre-campaign where marketers have a purpose in mind, collect relevant data, such as the potential size of the audience, and then perform an analysis before deciding whether or not to launch a campaign.

The second approach is post-campaign, where after each campaign, marketers have to measure and analyse the data collected from that particular campaign. Marketers can draw consumer insights as well as potential issues from the data, and also identify problems or opportunities.

When it comes to data analysis and digital marketing in general, a lack of talent, knowledge and co-operation between departments is one of the biggest concerns for marketers. In the discussion, the majority of marketers said they believe in the “bottom-up approach” – instead of keeping the data to the management only, they made the data accessible to different departments in the organisation.

By making sure the key person of the departments are able to access to the data they need for making the right business decisions at the right time, the company democratises the data. It changes not only the marketing strategy, but also the management strategy. 

“Everyone needs to see data differently based on different roles,” said Paul Harapin, vice-president and general manager of Asia Pacifc at Domo. He suggested one of the key points of democratising data is keeping it simple.

“You shouldn’t have to be a technical person or a data analyst to be able to consume the information,” he explained.

Democratising data can help integrate online data into offline services. Phoebe Hung, director of digital at Marriott International, said frontline staff of hotels can access guests’ transaction history which provides useful information such as their preference; therefore front desk staff can act spontaneously and better connect with customers in a more personalised way.

Mark Hau, general manager of Zuji Hong Kong, said: “Everything we know is data about customers. The biggest thing we have learnt is that we need the right tools.”

Marketers often need to strike a delicate balance between securing “quick wins” and a “long-tail strategy”. Hillman Lam, general manager of Hong Kong and Taiwan at Trip.com, said marketers
should always try to push the discussion forward, as content marketing is still very important as a long-tailed strategy.

He suggested building a content factory which will help marketers make business decisions.

“Regardless of what we are doing, we ask why we are doing it. When we are running a campaign, what’s the measure of success, if we don’t understand that, we are just doing
something for the sake of doing it,” he said.

With massive amounts of data on hand, in order to fully master data to win, marketers have to set solution-based objectives for the short term, and bear in mind the measure of success for long-term goals.