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How to prioritise and get started on data-driven marketing


How to prioritise and get started on data-driven marketing


Ignore the buzzwords and get straight to finding the value of data-driven marketing with this five-step guide by Daniel Aunvig.


It’s so easy to get caught up playing buzzword bingo. You know the terms: ‘big data in marketing’, ‘digital disruption’, ‘analytics’, ‘voice of the customer’, ‘the internet of things’, ‘customer journey’, ‘360-degree customer view’… It seems like every stakeholder in the data-driven marketing community is preaching the same things and I’m probably no different. I sometimes get caught up in it as well.

And while it’s easy to get buzzwords, it’s a lot harder to get good, detailed ‘how to’ information, but the reality is that actually ‘doing’ is what will differentiate you from your peers. I have seen organisations labouring over design phases for 12 months and more – spending significant internal and external resources preparing for a ‘big bang’ that never actually comes off because their internal agenda and their customer’s agenda is likely to be very different in 12 or 18 months. So here is a five-step guide to ensuring faster time to value.


Step One: It has to be about the value!

Don’t start with data and analytics as a theoretic discipline. Start with assessing the value. Sure, your organisation has hundreds of customer and market-related data sources, and you could be integrating all of them and communicating directly through all accessible channels. But, as an example, if reducing the call centre’s average call handling time by 10% while increasing call centre conversion rates by 20% will deliver most value for your organisation, then that should be your first step. One would argue that customer experience is the appropriate goalpost these days, but no one wants to create better customer experiences just for the sake of it. It’s still all about value – assessing customer experience is just applying a longer horizon than the regular short term one of campaign profit, which is great.


Step Two: Is a 180-degree view of the customer good enough for now?

If Step One is a given, then start building your data foundation to support that use case. A 360-degree view of the customer is great but perhaps 180-degrees will get you to value much faster. My experience is that for any use case you need to have basic customer information, transactional history, communication and treatment logs and direct response data, at the very least, to  ensure that you close the learning loop. The trick is to make sure that, at an infrastructure layer, you can scale to support future use cases which will accommodate new channels, third party data, predictive analytics, and survey information, etc.


Step Three: Build your stakeholder map

Data-driven marketing holds the potential to positively transform customer centric companies, which is good. However, it also imposes a challenge because many parts of the organisation could potentially be involved. I have successfully used stakeholder maps together with customer organisations – both to capture and validate requirements, and then communicate potential impacts and begin the change management process at an early stage. If your role is in the business side of your organisation, make sure you have IT well covered off in your stakeholder map because the likelihood is that you’ll need them eventually, anyway.


Step Four: The terror of the spreadsheet style RFP

Too many organisations still issue these massive Excel spreadsheets with 500 to 1000 cells to complete the stating of functionality and capabilities. Most vendors will respond positively with, ‘Yes we can do that’, but this significantly reduces the true value of the final outcome and wastes valuable time on both sides of the table. I believe it’s much more efficient to spend more time briefing vendors on what your organisation is trying to achieve, describing and documenting key use cases, and then having them build those use cases using their software and knowledge. This approach is likely to give you a clearer picture of the outcomes


Step Five: Shake hands with the delivery team

Organisations spent significant resources evaluating functionality and software capabilities when embarking on a data-driven marketing journey, while limited attention seems to be paid to the experience and methodologies of the project team members – both local and international. This area needs a more balanced focus, because over three years it is likely to be the people on the ground who will keep total cost of ownership low and make sure that required changes are implemented efficiently. Good technology will only get you so far, local resources and flexibility will ensure the ROI you were looking for in the first place.


Daniel Aunvig

Daniel Aunvig is head of customer intelligence for SAS.

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