But at the end of the event, the hosts of each table helpfully provided a summary of the day’s discussions.

Here is what was said at the data-driven marketing roundtable.

Data-driven marketing: Making big data actionable

This proved to be a very popular topic. The roundtable was hosted by Prakash Chandrasekar, AMA head of ecommerce analytics & planning at Levis Strauss & Co. and sponsored by our lead sponsor for the day, Datalicious.

Over the course of three 90-minute sessions, brand marketers discussed their data management strategies, some of the best practices they follow, and what issues they faced.

Understanding data

All participants acknowledged that data-driven marketing offers exciting, new opportunities for their brands, so data is a big part of what we, as marketers, do.

But how much of our time and effort should we invest in it?  Where should we start?

One idea discussed at length was that marketers should move away from using data just to determine an optimal media mix.

Instead of pouring over spreadsheets to allocate spend between, say, search and display, marketers should use a strategic approach.

  • Objective: Start with an objective. What business outcome are you trying to achieve? More sales? More repeat business?
  • Goal: Then decide a goal. What are you going to do to reach that objective? What is the hypothesis that you want to test out?
  • Data: Finally, figure out the KPIs you need in order to measure your progress and success and get the data for those KPIs.
  • Repeat:. With the right data, you should be able to make the necessary changes to your strategy that will improve your marketing ROI.

And be careful not to burn your whole budget on the test.

Use a small portion of it for this process at first. Then, when you’re more confident that your hypothesis is right and provides real business value, you can invest more.

Data challenges

One of the main challenges brand marketers faced was about whether they should use agencies for data-driven marketing. Outsource or insource?

Most marketers agreed that if you have the budget, it is best practice to use an agency to get started with data-driven marketing and build your internal team as your data business grows.

Also, what about using third-party data?

In this case, most participants felt that third-party data is only useful when you had first-party data to support it. Otherwise you may end up with big questions about data authenticity and quality.

And finally, participants were concerned about collecting data. How can you capture customer intent in your data?

Best practice here was to tag your media campaigns to gather information about the customer experience.

With the right tagging, you will know where your customer journey begins, how it progresses, and most importantly where it stops.

Then do some high-level analysis on the touchpoints to determine what needs to improve.

The future

When asked about the future of data-driven marketing, many participants said that providing personalized marketing is a key, future objective.

And one of the main goals now is to personalize emails and newsletters using data to increase transactions.

Others said that customer experience management is their future goal. Using touchpoint data, they want to first improve their website and then improve their digital marketing.

Overall though, marketers said that keeping up with the pace of change in digital marketing is their main concern.

This means consolidating new data sources, using analytics to evaluate marketing performance, and making changes based on their KPIs.

A word of thanks

Econsultancy would like to thank all of the brand marketers who participated on the day, especially our table moderators, and our lead sponsor for the data-driven marketing table, Datalicious.

We hope you enjoyed the exchange of ideas and new insights as much as we did – and hope to see you all next year for Digital Cream 2016!