Digital Cream is an annual event in Singapore, where brand marketers from across the industry get together to discuss the trends, insights, and frustrations which are driving their digital marketing strategies.

The event is in its 8th year and while many things have stayed the same, one thing in particular has changed.

Looking back on previous posts which summarized the topics at the event, marketers used to struggle accessing data. Common complaints were that data sources weren’t well-integrated, data resided in departmental silos, or resources weren’t available to combine customer, web and channel performance data.

In 2018, though, marketers at Digital Cream revealed that they are experiencing a new problem with data: They have too much of it.

Marketer's sitting around a roundtable at Econsultancy's Digital Cream event in Singapore.

At the Data-driven Marketing and Marketing Attribution table, sponsored by Tealium, marketers said that now that they have all the data they need in one place, they struggle to filter out useful data and apply it to improve marketing performance. So, they asked, what can marketers do to make better use of the data they have?

Fortunately, the three discussion groups on the day included several marketers from ‘data-rich’ organisations who were able to point out a few things that data-driven marketers do which other marketers typically do not.

What now for data-driven marketing?

1) Implement a data strategy

The first piece of advice from data-driven marketers was that marketers now must have data management strategy to truly take advantage of their data.

A new data-driven strategy needs to start with an organisational culture change, from one which just has a lot of data to one which manages its data well and values data analytics highly.  This, according to participants, first needs to happen at the top so that new initiatives have business support.

Equally important, though, is that marketers also need to strive for a data-aware culture at the ground level. “If you don’t have the analysts, you’re not going to get the insights,” one attendee quipped.

Once the organisation has a more data-driven culture, then, according to attendees, organisations should seek to upgrade their systems and infrastructure.  If the technology is implemented before the cultural shift, marketers risk purchasing expensive systems which no one knows how to use.

Finally, with the systems and the people in place, marketers are, according to the experts, in a much better position to collect data, analyse it and improve marketing performance with data-driven insights.

Two marketers deep in discussion at Digital Cream 2018.

2) Constantly look for opportunities to use data

Participants who worked for data-driven companies said that they were always on the lookout for ways in which they could use data to improve their marketing.

Retargeting, said one attendee, remained one of the best ways for brands to use web data to improve performance, and well-organised data delivered much better results.

Attribution modeling was also mentioned as a way for marketers to apply their data to improve performance. And another stated that once an attribution model is in place, it can be adjusted gradually to include new data in the model.

Finally, data-driven marketers use data to learn about their customers. Ad clicks, website behaviour and purchase history can all offer information about what consumers care about from the top to the bottom of the purchasing funnel.

Marketers seated at a roundtable listen to a speaker off-camera.

3) Identify and overcome obstacles to data-driven marketing

Attendees were also quick to point out that a data-driven culture was not easy to maintain.  Many issues come up when using data to improve marketing, with some problems occurring regularly.

First off, no matter how efficiently a company collects data, it will always be incomplete with regards to the customer journey. And as the customer journey is constantly changing, participants said that it is a constant challenge to ‘connect the dots’ between campaigns, research on the website and the final purchase.

Optimizing the customer journey: How marketers are overcoming obstacles

Another attendee said that data silos keep emerging as well.  As offline brands adopt online distribution, new systems are implemented, and data sharing cannot be taken for granted by marketers.

Data governance is another issue faced by marketers who have well-developed data strategies.  Knowing where data has come from, how it has been captured and what it will be used for are all important aspects of data-driven marketing, especially since GDPR and other data privacy legislation has become the law in many countries.

And, interestingly, marketers at the event pointed out that another issue data-driven organisations faced was that their marketing was at risk of over-invest in digital marketing and under-invest in less-measurable, though equally effective, offline marketing channels.

A true data-driven organisation will, according to participants, be aware of these risks and take proactive steps to keep on top of them.

A word of thanks

Econsultancy would like to thank Tealium for sponsoring the Data-driven Marketing and Marketing Attribution Management table this year, as well as all the marketers who took time out of their busy schedules to attend and share their experiences and insights.

We hope to see you all at future Econsultancy events!

Organisers and sponsors pose smiling for the camera at Digital Cream 2018.