I had the pleasure of hosting two roundtables on data-driven marketing at the Econsultancy and IBM BusinessConnect 2015 event in Singapore.

Digital marketers got together and discussed their challenges around undertaking a true data-driven approach to marketing within their organisations.

Three clear concerns kept popping up and they are not unique to the attendees of the event. So it’s worthwhile to explore these and look at how they can be overcome.

Where do I start? Where do I stop?

Your modern day marketer is overwhelmed by the data at their disposal. The beauty of digital advertising is that everything can be measured. The bane of digital advertising is also that everything can be measured.

With everything being measurable, across a number of different platforms (e.g. web analytics, CRM, email marketing, etc.), marketers are inundated with thousands of metrics and dimensions.

So the key question becomes, “Where do I start? And once I start, where do I stop?”

The Pareto Principle states that 80% of value can be generated from 20% of what’s at your disposal. The same applies to digital metrics. You do not have to use everything to generate value.

The first step is to identify your key corporate objectives, and then map where your digital assets play a role.

Based on that, you should be able to identify what metrics you should be looking at in alignment with your CEO’s wishes.

If, for example, 2015’s aspiration is to reduce customer service costs, then we should be looking at how your digital assets allow customers to manage their accounts and have their questions resolved efficiently.

Once you have a list of metrics or KPIs aligned with your organisational objectives, life becomes much easier.

You will find yourself looking at only a handful of KPIs. This in turn is easier to manage. But most importantly, these are easier to action.

And you can implement them with confidence that your actions will make a difference to your organisation.

How can I help the business if nobody shares data with me?

A common problem facing large organisations is that departments and their data are siloed. These silos prevent efficient sharing of useful data across key stakeholders.

A participant made a good point:

I generate thousands of leads for my business. These leads then get handed over to my sales team, but they can only close 2%. What I can’t get from them is why the 98% didn’t convert. How can I be more effective for my business?

This is a great example of departments working to their own KPIs without the overall organisational goals in mind.

The marketing team hit their lead generation targets. The sales team hit their sales targets. But at no point is anyone considering whether as a whole they are efficient.

Are they bringing in qualified and high-value leads that can be converted at an efficient rate?

The first step here is to bring alignment among the different departments as to what needs to be achieved to increase the organisation’s margins.

Once identified, we need to break down the data silos so that everyone can have access to the relevant information, whether it sits in their own silo or not.

For this, a solid internal data infrastructure needs to be in place. On top of that layer tools that allow for easy access and manipulation of data. Which leads me to the next concern…

Everybody talks about data-driven marketing conceptually, but how do I get started?

Data-driven is still a relatively new concept, especially in Asia. Marketers have been bombarded with articles on “big data”, and they feel they know what it is at a high-level.

But nobody talks about becoming practical and how to actually execute. Because nobody talks about it, the perception is that it’s difficult and expensive to do.

But the reality is that there are enough free and inexpensive tools out there to get you started. And you don’t need rocket scientists to get set up. Here are some simple ways to get started:

  • Set up a web analytics tool on your websites.

  • Use a data visualisation tool to start connecting data between your different data stores.

  • Utilise a real-time bidding platform to efficiently manage your digital campaigns.

The tools are out there and they are not that scary. Google them and get started. As your organisation increases its familiarity and maturity around these tools, then you can start looking at more sophisticated and enterprise-level solutions.

In short, most digital marketers have the same demons that keep them up at night. But those demons can be put to rest by following three simple steps:

  1. Only measure what is meaningful to your business. And take action on those knowing that it will transform your business.
  2. Break down data silos.
  3. Start doing something. Anything.

Read these posts for more from our BusinessConnect roundtables: