Integrated data and analytics tools are changing all aspects of business, but perhaps none more than the marketing department.
Marketing is so vested in Big Data, Gartner predicts that within four years, the chief marketing officer’s IT budget could be larger than the CIO’s budget, and most CMOs see marketing as the “natural leader” on Big Data, according to this Harvard Business Review post.
Data analytics adds credibility to a field that was once merely a “soft science with anecdotal results,” Lars Christensen, ON24 vice president of marketing, acknowledges in a recent B2C column.
”Only in the last decade or so has marketing begun getting the respect it deserves and its rightful place in the C-Suite,” Christensen writes. “This is due to integrated data and marketing analytics.”
As further evidence, Christensen cites a McKinsey study that showed that marketers could eliminate 15 to 20 percent of their overall spend by using an integrated approach to analytics. That’s the equivalent of $200 billion annually, he adds.
Big Data analytics and better data integration aren’t just changing marketing’s role in the corporation, however. These technology advances are a double-edged sword: While they help marketing gain credibility, they are also triggering distress, anxiety and even data distrust within marketing itself, according to Kevin Lindsay, director of optimization and personalization solutions at Adobe.
“This discomfort is an unwelcome side effect of some welcome advances in omnichannel marketing—you’re everywhere and so is your marketing, and that’s bound to lead to at least some static,” Lindsay writes in a HBR guest post published this week. “However, what we’re seeing now takes that even further, leaving marketers with significant internal and external roadblocks in the journey to become data-driven.”
Marketers aren’t sure how to make sense of integrated data when the results are vague or conflicting, he adds.
Part of the problem is that marketing is hung up on old paradigms. For instance, marketing is very attached to attributing a sale. That’s a problem in an era when influence is circular, rather than linear, he explains:
“Think about the last time you logged into Facebook and saw an article or video that was making the rounds. It was probably posted on a few of your friends’ walls, and maybe you saw some other people tweet about it. By the time your friend texted it to you, you’d already seen it, because you subscribe to daily updates from the site that originally posted it.”
All of those sources ultimately contributed to your decision to view the content. As my college rhetoric teacher pointed out, it isn’t one speech or one argument, but rather the accumulation of information that ultimately changes someone’s mind. As a rhetorician, your job isn’t to win, but to influence.
That’s also why attribution is so irrelevant today.
“Because consumers’ journeys are becoming increasingly circular, attribution can come from a variety of sources and shouldn’t incite distress signals,” Lindsay writes. “A greater understanding of and appreciation for this circuitous system can help dissuade some of this distrust.”
In addition to attribution confusion, Lindsay identifies two more stumbling blocks for marketers in the age of Big Data analytics:
- Obsessing over inflated metrics.
- Favoring one data set over multiple data sources because the results are simpler, cleaner or simply more appealing.
While a single data set may make you happier, integrating multiple data sources creates a more accurate picture of the market, he adds.
Loraine Lawson is a veteran technology reporter and blogger. She currently writes the Integration blog for IT Business Edge, which covers all aspects of integration technology, including data governance and best practices. She has also covered IT/Business Alignment and IT Security for IT Business Edge. Before becoming a freelance writer, Lawson worked at TechRepublic as a site editor and writer, covering mobile, IT management, IT security and other technology trends. Previously, she was a webmaster at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and a newspaper journalist. Follow Lawson at Google+ and on Twitter.