Leveraging data to improve marketing effectiveness has become so commonplace, that using the term ‘data-driven’ with ‘marketing’ almost seems redundant.

Yet in practice, many marketers feel that they are still not using data as much as they’d like to. When asked to name which marketing-related areas will ‘jump furthest up your organisation’s priority list in 2019’, more than half (55%) chose a ‘better use of data for more effective audience segmentation and targeting’.

So, what obstacles do marketers face when using company data in their marketing programmes and how do they overcome them?

To find out, Econsultancy, in association with Oracle, recently held roundtable discussions with client-side marketers in Bangkok. At the Data-driven Marketing table, hosted by Nuttakorn Rattanachaisit, Founder & MD, Predictive, attendees discussed the problems they have encountered when applying data to their marketing and some of the workarounds they have come up with, as well. Below is a summary of what was said on the day.

1) Marketers are still struggling with offline data

Participants said that while digital media is steadily becoming more popular, offline touchpoints are still very important to many industries, especially retail and FMCG.

Because offline data is so hard to capture, measure and integrate, attendees said that they still find it difficult to understand offline consumer behaviour. As a result, brands which rely on offline touchpoints struggle to reap the benefits of data-driven marketing.

Solutions

Several delegates, though, had made progress in this area and offered some advice. First, they said, marketers must understand the whole customer journey. This means identifying each brand touchpoint and, possibly on a whiteboard, manually ‘connecting the dots’ between them.

With the map in front of them, marketers should then devise ways to reproduce offline touchpoints online, so that more of the consumer journey happens on a measurable digital platform.

For example, if marketers determine that customers typically become aware of their brand’s new products through an in-store display, they should try social and display advertising in a selected market to achieve the same level of awareness.

Doing so could, over time, replace the difficult-to-measure offline touchpoint with a measurable online one, allowing marketers to capture and use data to improve future campaigns.

2) Legacy systems make it difficult to map the customer journey

Another challenge faced by marketers is that, at many firms, data is spread across multiple, legacy systems. According to one attendee, this means that they struggle to even gain access to touchpoint data. Additionally, company data is often spread across various business units, many of which are unprepared or unwilling to share the data with marketers.

Solution

The obvious solution to this problem is that marketers need to get buy-in from people across the organisation to be successful with data-driven marketing initiatives. But how?

One way suggested was for marketers to avoid, initially, big projects which require data from systems across the company. Instead, marketers should start with a small project with readily available data and prove the value of using company data for marketing.

With a smaller initiative, marketers will avoid system integration – which would be painful for everyone – and they will be able to validate their data-driven approach with relevant stakeholders.

A successful small project will also help marketers start conversations with business heads who often need to be convinced of the value of releasing their data before they will do so.

3) Marketers lack the skills required for data-driven marketing

One participant noted that because marketers need to have a broad range of skills, some are more able than others to use data effectively in their jobs.

The problem, another attendee explained, is that many marketers are more communication specialists than data specialists and so they struggle to apply principles of data-driven marketing such as test-measure-and-learn.

Solution

One proposed solution was that managers could give junior marketers more ownership of campaigns so that they could acquire data-driven marketing skills ‘on the job’.

Including executives in the planning process, and post-execution measurement of small projects would help them understand the full lifecycle of a data-driven marketing campaign. Then, with the skills they acquire, they would be more likely to appreciate the steps required for bigger data-driven marketing initiatives.

4) Marketers still cannot agree on the ‘right’ attribution model

Finally, attendees said one of the biggest challenges in adopting data-driven marketing is attributing conversions and revenue across all the channels they use.  This is important to get right, said one participant, so that supporting channels, such as display, continue to receive investment even though most conversions come from more direct channels, such as paid search.

Yet, despite its importance, attendees said that it’s rare that a whole department agrees on an attribution model and so marketing budgets are still allocated across channels in a somewhat arbitrary way.

Solution

In order to arrive at a consensus on an attribution model, said one participant, marketers first need to agree on the most important touchpoints of the customer journey. Without understanding how customers become aware of their brand, research it, and convert, marketers will struggle to accurately attribute value to individual channels.

Additionally, said another, each company should have its own, custom attribution model. Using a standard model, such as first or last touch, leads to undervaluing channels which are uniquely important to a brand and overinvestment in less-effective platforms.

A word of thanks

Econsultancy would like to thank the host for the Data-driven Marketing table, Nuttakorn Rattanachaisit, Founder & MD, Predictive and the sponsor for the event, Oracle.

We’d also like to thank the brand marketers who took time out of their busy schedule to share their experiences with data-driven marketing, the problems they face and the solutions they have discovered. We hope to see you all at future Econsultancy events!