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Oct 21

What’s The Secret To Data-Driven, Customer-Centric Marketing?

First, the bad news. There isn’t a secret. There isn’t a quick and easy way to turn your data into value. There isn’t a one-size fits all software to be implemented or a book or company out there (including Codei) that can, overnight, transform your organization. And even though there are 1.8B returns when you Google “big data” (49M for data-driven marketing) and a must-attend seminar somewhere every single week, none of these will have a quick-fix answer.

Now, the good news. Anyone can make it happen. That is, anyone with the right plan, resources and organizational involvement. And there are smart and thoughtful individuals, well-researched books and conferences to help you put your own unique plan together. It’s simply a matter of getting started.

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While your process and plan will be unique to your needs, here are some guiding steps for you to consider.

1.   Audit

And identify your starting point. According to Forrester, on average organizations are using just 12% of the data they have. Audit what you have, what you know, what you are using, how are you using it and how your data, technologies and processes facilitate continuous improvement. Establish the starting point with your data, reporting/analytics, customer, market, marketing and organization.

2.   Understand Your Data

And what data can and cannot do. Don’t expect too much or too little. Being data-driven does not mean that every decision is or should be data dependent. And too much can be a bad thing. More is certainly not better, especially if it means confusion and misreads. Successfully being data-driven is less about the amount of data and far more dependent upon how the data is accessed, interpreted and applied (and how it is not). There are a number of cautions and considerations when working with data outlined in this recent post.

3.   Understand Your Customer

And the role you play in their lives as well as the role you have the potential to play. What are their motivations and barriers? How do they interact with you, with each other and with the products and services they choose to buy? They are in control of their information gathering, manage their own circle of influence and expect you to stop pushing irrelevant messages along their unique and personal route to buying decisions. How are you integrating their experience with you? How are you leveraging data and technology to inspire and generate authentic and meaningful messaging and content? How should you be?

4.   Define Your Plan

And make sure it is prioritized, built on insights, thorough and fully resourced. Identify what you believe to be your highest yield short and long term opportunities for leveraging of data. What should you start doing? What should you be doing better? And perhaps most important, what should you stop doing? Are there short term wins you can quickly complete (and celebrate)? And some requiring longer term development that will yield more significant value?  Establish a vision, plans and objectives but be prepared to shift as results are achieved and insights are uncovered. Depending upon the bandwidth of your resources, you may elect to start small and focused or broader and more encompassing. Regardless of the size, prioritize your actions and be thorough. No matter how capable, there is a limit to what an organization can do well. And to be successful the plan must encompass all influencers and influencing factors and have the right buy-in, expectations, resources and support.

5.    Align Your Data

And make sure you have the right people and enough of them working with data and research to track, inform, uncover, share, interpret and apply. Track what you are doing now, inform what you want to do tomorrow and uncover inspiration for what you haven’t imagined yet. Invest time sharing what you’ve learned and allocate enough time and resources to interpret and apply. Include in your plan a vision for continuously expanding your insights through data, analytics and research, but be careful to not overwhelm. Ensure you are consuming and applying what you have before acquiring more.  Here is a detailed list of considerations and cautions regarding working with data and research.

6.   Address the Organization

And drive transformation now. The way in which many companies plan and respond to their market is largely based on philosophies, resources and structures developed when order, control, efficiency and repeat-ability were the path to growth (and technology and data demands were significantly less). Risk averse cultures and disengaged, siloed workforce cannot handle the demands of a data-driven, customer-centric marketing. New skills, structures and reward systems and enough people are required to foster collaboration and the complex decision-making required to interpret, respond to and apply intelligence about the business, market and customers.

7.   Implement

And be agile but ensure process, documentation and tracking. Recognize that you are on a journey to continuously improving insights, optimized actions and more engaging customer experiences. A journey without an endpoint. Technologies, reporting/analytics, tactics, research and testing plans should be defined and deployed in an iterative, agile and timely fashion. Speed and responsiveness are important but they don’t trump accuracy and quality. Foster smart and informed risk taking and exploration but implement management practices to ensure the responsible leveraging and use of data and technology in doing so. Again, here is a more detailed list of considerations for working with data and research.

And even better news? Connecting insights to strategies and strategies to results through data-driven, customer-centric marketing doesn’t have to cost budget breaking dollars. If you can’t yet afford the latest analytics software or to implement the must-do digital media tactic of the moment, you can still realize benefits. By following these steps you will better connect your insights to strategies and identify where you can confidently shift existing dollars to be more productive, more engaging and more effective.

The demands of today’s market require moving to a new way of doing business, built on data and centered around the customer. That much isn’t up to you, but the pace of your organization’s transformation is.

I guess there is a secret. Get started. 

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