How Data-Driven Are Aussie Marketers?

How Data-Driven Are Aussie Marketers?
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In this guest post, managing director for global digital marketing firm ON24, Michael Savanis (pictured below), argues Aussie marketers increasingly understand the need for data without actually understanding the data itself…

In the marketing community we love to hype up the many different ways we can apply data to our initiatives.

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In reality, however, very few marketers can truly validate the ROI of their efforts. The perpetual question therefore remains: is the fire hose of available data actually being translated into more effective marketing campaigns?

For most marketers, applying data-driven strategies that undoubtedly work can be elusive. And surveys show mixed results: while most marketers are eager for the promises of data science in their field, real results are far murkier.

In fact, a recent Forbes study found that while data-driven marketing is experiencing an upsurge, around half of executives feel their efforts are lagging, largely because they fail to capture most types of customer data beyond demographics[1]. Another study found that more than half of marketers would label their ability to act on insights derived from customer data as either ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’[2].

While the modern marketer has never had more technology at their disposal, successful deployment of data analysis tools still proves to be extremely difficult. So how can marketers today build first-rate programs while using data-driven strategies?

Constructing a culture of ‘data-driven accountability’

At the end of the day, marketing teams need to align with sales teams. Period. And in order for this alliance to form it’s essential to integrate the objectives of each group. Modern marketers should never be strictly focused on lead volume, but rather, lead quality. By working collaboratively with sales, marketing can design demand generation strategies that separate sales-ready leads from the engagement-ready leads (including those which need more time to mature).

It sounds obvious, right? And yet survey after survey reveals that marketing professionals are less focused on connecting their efforts to revenue. Research by Korn Ferry, an advisory and executive search firm, found that only 27 per cent of marketing executives cited “connecting marketing to bottom-line results as the top concern keeping them up at night.”

But I can’t think of a higher priority for marketers. Bringing marketing and business outcomes into line begins with accountability. Every member of your marketing team, whether they are responsible for events, operations, demand generation or content, must understand how your exclusive sales cycle unfolds. They must also understand how they can apply data at each step of the cycle in order to improve the probability of leads closing.

You will find no better example of this than the marketing operations within Microsoft’s Azure business. This team has built a first-class, data-driven structure in which they measure every marketing activity, and ultimately attribute audience engagement to purchasing decisions.

At the recent Marketo Summit, Microsoft executives reported that they know the proclivity to buy based on attending an Azure webinar, citing that 7.2 per cent of webinar attendees go on to become customers. Using this data, Microsoft then dramatically increased the webinar production to a run-rate of 1,500+ annually. This is a good example of using data analysis to produce desired results — in this case, revenue.

Recognising how marketing strategy determines your fate

At ON24, we are continuously privy to the role that marketers play in determining whether a company succeeds or whether it fails. In other words, marketers are often the best equipped within the company to research and ascertain the Total Addressable Market (TAM) — the universe of customers you can sell to.

At the start of each and every campaign, there should be a moment when marketing team members take a step back and ask themselves: what is our ultimate goal? How will this activity benefit the company’s growth trajectory? Understanding how each piece of the puzzle impacts your company is invaluable — and data can provide a key spotlight on what is really driving success.

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