The volume and velocity of the data at our fingertips today has the power to transform the way we do marketing. Armed with the right data about our target audience, we can reach them at the right time, in the right place, with the best tailored messages. Given the deluge of marketing messages inundating consumers and B2B buyers at every moment, it’s critical that your marketing messages be the most relevant in order to break through the clutter.
However, many of us still aren’t using data to its full potential. Only 30% of B2B marketers use data to inform decision-making. That’s because harnessing data is hard. Over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are generated every day, across so many different people, channels, devices, and technologies. And nearly 50% of marketers say they don’t have the the right people, processes, and technologies in place to make use all of that data to make an impact.
To continue to thrive in a crowded market place, and to truly show the impact of marketing as a revenue generator, it will be critical to get the people, process, and technology in place to make your data work for you. Of course, it won’t happen overnight. But regardless of where you are in your journey to data sophistication, you can start solving your challenges now.
Below, we dive into five frequent data challenges and how you can put yourself on a path to overcome them.
Challenge #1 – The data you need doesn’t exist.
Despite all of that data being generated and captured, you could still be experiencing gaps in your data reporting. Typical data holes, include:
- Lack of attribution
- Incomplete contact records
- Not all marketing and buying activities are being tracked
These data holes are usually caused by a lack (or non-adherence) of process by both sales and marketing teams. The result is an incomplete picture, which can lead to inaccurate data analysis.
Unsurprisingly, if your marketing activities aren’t properly tracked, you’re not able to truly measure the result of one marketing activity over another. But the good news is that this is one of the easiest challenges to overcome.
Start Solving The Data Gap Challenge
First, examine the process and governance around your tracking and database. If you don’t have one, create a policy around data governance focusing on getting top-down buy-in on the importance of collecting and maintaining accurate data.
For your database:
- Ensure new records are complete by reviewing data input requirements with the sales team, ensuring all know how and why complete data records are critical. And ensure your CRM and website forms are set up properly to ensure mandatory data is collected and entered.
- Consider a major scrub if you have a lot of bad data. There are a variety of CRM services or add-on tools to help clean up inaccurate or duplicate records. Manually fixing thousands of records will be nearly impossible in most cases, so consider bringing in outside help.
For marketing activities:
- Create and enforce a process within your marketing team so tracking is in place on every activity possible.
- If you you’re already using Google Analytics, make the most out of it by:
- Ensuring goals and events are setup to track major conversions (like a contact form completion) and micro-conversions (like a video play).
- Use Google URL builder for improved campaign tracking. Unique URLs can help you pinpoint which marketing activities are driving the most activity.
- Identify other key data points that you’re not currently able to track with your existing set of tools. From there, research free tools to help you fill in gaps or set aside budget to make an investment in new technology.
Challenge #2 – You have data silos.
Many of you are dealing with multiple legacy systems, perhaps put in place by different teams, that don’t necessarily work together. Between your CRM, analytics platform, marketing automation, and social listening tools, data and platform integration may not be happening—and it’s holding you back.
Finding a solution to this challenge will enable your data to become incredibly powerful. Integrating data across systems gives you the opportunity to create a more complete view of a customer or prospect, connecting activity throughout the buying journey and enabling you to reach them with the most relevant messages.
Start Solving the Data Silo Challenge
Start breaking down data silos by creating a list of data collection processes and tools across departments. Once you have the list, you can start to identify if any systems can be merged together.
Many stand alone CRM, marketing automation, and analytics tools offer integration capabilities with other common platforms. Or you may already have a tool in place you are using for one function, that can be used for other jobs. If merging isn’t possible, then consider an alternative tool that can integrate with your other systems or do multiple things.
This is also a good time to evaluate communication and processes across departments. Opening up silos between teams will help minimize new silos from forming and open up communication and access to data, which can improve the effectiveness of marketing activities.
Read: How to Become a Better Data-Informed Content Marketer
Challenge #3 – The data is tough to analyze.
Anyone who has ever attempted to analyze thousands of rows of marketing data within an Excel spreadsheet can attest that it can be cumbersome and time consuming. For many of us, data volumes have accelerated much more quickly than our tools and abilities to analyze that data.
Even if you have the most accurate, complete data, if you don’t have the right skills and strategies in place to analyze it, you can’t make an impact.
Start Solving the Data Analyzation Challenge
First, ask yourself if you have the right people in place to solve this problem. Data and technology has likely opened up the need for new positions within your team. An experienced analyst (or team of analysts) can manipulate large volumes of data and serve up insights to help your content marketing, social, advertising, and other teams make more informed decisions and show the impact of your work.
Data scientist is another in demand title within marketing. The right person in this role can help you evaluate tools, manage data sources, and create process and strategies to turn formless data into a powerhouse of insight to change how your team uses data.
From there, assess your technology stack to determine if you have the right tools in place to enable your current or future analysts understand and visualize the data.
Challenge #4 – You don’t trust your data.
It’s safe to say that you and your organization believe data and analytics are critical. In fact, a survey of some of the world’s leading businesses showed that 97% were making big investments in data and analytics this year.
However, despite the need and the investment, the degree of confidence in data could be low. According to a recent survey by KPMG and Forrester Consulting, just 38% of respondents said they have a high level of confidence in their customer insights. Furthermore, only a third seem to trust the analytics they generate from their business operations.
This gap in trust can be a result of lack of transparency or governance around data sourcing and analysis. And present a significant opportunity for organizations to create, refine and circulate policies for data and analytics management.
Start Solving the Data Trust Challenge
If you’ve already head nodded to one of the first three challenges presented, you likely need to start there. A legacy of incomplete and inaccurate data and analytics has driven the current lack of trust. KPMG recommends taking a systematic approach to building trust within data and analytics, by examining trust in data across four pillars:
- Quality (Are your tools and data quality?)
- Effectiveness (Is the data analysis useful and accurate?)
- Integrity (Are data and analytics being used in an acceptable and ethical way?)
- Resilience (Are long-term operations optimized?)
Challenge #5 – You can’t make the predictive leap.
If you have the right people, processes, and tools in place to effectively report on and analyze data across channels, that’s fantastic. You’re likely leveraging your historical data along with human insight to create more effective messaging and showcase the ROI of your marketing activities.
But the question is: Are you in a position to get ahead of your audience’s needs?
More than likely, you’re “guessing” at what your audience needs and wants based on what’s already happened, and you haven’t made the predictive leap to uncover deeper trends that will require changes in your mix.
Start Solving the Guessing Game Challenge
Start thinking about how machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) can be implemented to help you predict future outcomes. ML and AI technologies not only have the ability to automate data crunching, but they can also create models using your multi-channel data to determine what is likely to happen if you stop or start using a tactic.
For many marketers, AI and ML are daunting solutions to implement, as they are new and can require a significant investment. But the good news is that you can dip your toe in the waters by outsourcing to an established vendor.
If you want to get something going in-house, Microsoft, IBM, and Amazon all have machine learning solutions you can research, consider, and test.
Read: This Changes Everything: How AI Is Transforming Digital Marketing
Overcome Your Data & Analytics Challenges in 2019
Without a doubt, the importance of data and analytics will continue to increase as we go forward. Start now to identify what challenges are holding your marketing team back from making the most out of your data.
With the right people, process, and tools and technologies in place, you can solve current challenges and evolve a powerful data and analytics operation—ultimately setting you up for more success now and into the future.
What are some of the specific strategies and tactics for optimizing performance with data? Our CEO Lee Odden dives into three ways content marketers can leverage data right now.