HomeBlog Building a Data-Driven Culture in Marketing

Building a Data-Driven Culture in Marketing

June 13, 2016 | By Jeff Clark

  • Data-driven decisionmarking starts with a focus on on accurate measures that directly impact performance
  • Foster good communication with reporting audiences to collect feedback, ensure adoption and refine and improve reports and dashboards
  • Before considering the purchase of analytics technologies, focus on establishing sound data sources and processes and determining the requirements of your audience

Many organizations invest a great deal of time and effort into measurement, and yet don’t take the time to review their results to make data-driven decisions. I’ve seen marketing teams generate excruciatingly detailed reports on campaign and tactic responses, but then never use the information to answer basic questions such as “What should we do more often?” or “What should we stop doing?”

If you haven’t also developed a data-driven culture, what good is it to develop another report or dashboard?

Great marketing measurement helps foster a data-driven culture by providing marketers with the tools they need to understand the “why” behind results and reveal what’s needed to improve performance. At SiriusDecisions, we’ve talked to enough clients to understand that creating this culture is not easy. Here are some recommendations for marketing leaders on how to make the transition to a data-driven culture:

  • Talk to your reporting audiences. The first step is to engage your reporting consumers and ask “What do you care most about knowing?” and “What actions will you take once empowered with this knowledge?” Assure them that you are there to help improve performance – not just run the numbers – and that you sincerely want to aid them in making more informed, data-driven decisions.
  • Prioritize areas where measurement can drive change. Organizations often start their measurement practice with the SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall® because it’s an area where marketing and sales share goals. It’s also an area where leaders share an intense interest knowing demand creation’s impact on the business. However, an organization’s strategic objectives may point to other areas where actionable information can improve performance, such as account engagement, content utilization and brand awareness. Start where marketing can show progress toward goals and engage those stakeholders. They will become your role models for the rest of the organization.
  • Get strong executive support. This may seem obvious, but the culture is not going to change without reinforcement from the top. The CMO must have a stake in more than just the executive dashboard. He or she must expect all levels of his or her staff to review program results and make the right short- and long-term adjustments for continuous improvement.   
  • Training and coaching are essential to driving adoption. Training should be part of the organization’s measurement rollout and communication plan. Ongoing training and coaching ingrains consistent use to track results and improve decisionmaking. Plus, it’s a great way to get feedback from audiences to make refinements. 
  • Make measurement review part of regular meetings. Marketing leadership team meetings, campaign debriefs and quarterly business reviews (QBRs) are opportunities to put measurement on the agenda. Because the interests of participants can vary, they’re not ideal for presenting detailed reports, but the right information tailored for the meeting (e.g. high-level KPI update for the leadership team or updates on marketing-sourced and influenced pipeline for the QBR) can drive productive conversations on improving results. Inclusion in these high-profile agendas can also demonstrate executive-level support for the measurement effort.
  • Stick to the fundamentals before getting fancy. Predictive analytics and complex attribution models are for mature practices. Don’t reach for the stars until you have a string of successes under your belt. It’s important to execute on the fundamentals of effective measurement as you progress from your initial projects to a holistic approach of measuring across marketing functions. 

Great marketing measurement is not just a set of good-looking reports or dashboards. It’s the result of a process that engages your audiences and ingrains actionable measurement in every marketer’s thought process. Be sure to read the Core Strategy Report “Marketing Measurement: The SiriusDecisions Way” for more on the fundamentals of marketing measurement.

Jeff Clark

Jeff Clark brings over 25 years of B2B marketing experience to the Marketing Operations Strategies service. Jeff develops SiriusDecsions’ research on marketing measurement and technology planning. His work helps b-to-b organizations effectively quantify, understand and convey the value being created by their marketing functions and assists marketing operations teams in their planning and management of technology.

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