Kate MacDonald, Director of Enterprise and Strategic Solutions Consultants at Domo, examined what it takes to foster data-driven growth at scale in her presentation to Argyle's CMO membership at the 2017 Chief Marketing Officer Leadership Forum in Toronto on September 28. In her presentation, "Agility at Scale: Data-Driven Growth," MacDonald examined the impact of data on today's marketers and provided recommendations to help marketers optimize the value of the data at their disposal.
According to MacDonald, data overload is a major problem for many marketers. Meanwhile, new data becomes available every day, and marketers are responsible for organizing and tracking this information and generating actionable insights from it.
"We're drowning in data," MacDonald stated. "Data is coming from all different directions, from everywhere we go. And we create data as customers ourselves."
Although data collection is ideal, merely retrieving data from multiple online sources rarely helps marketers achieve their desired results.
Instead, marketers must be able to look closely at structured and unstructured data and mine it for actionable insights. With these insights, marketers will be better equipped than ever before to make data-driven business decisions.
"Data is great. But data for data's sake doesn't get you anywhere," MacDonald said. "What you really need to do is make sure that you're getting insights and information from that data."
One of the primary problems with data analysis revolves around the large collection of metrics available to marketers.
"Keep it simple. Stop trying to look at every single data point out there and start asking the questions that you need to answer to make sure that your business goes in the direction that you want it to go."
If marketers allocate the necessary time and resources to understand the questions they want to answer, they can streamline their data analysis efforts. Perhaps most important, marketers will be able to avoid the risk of wasting precious time and resources evaluating "stagnant" dashboards and metrics.
"You've got all of these dashboards and printed reports … with 40 metrics on them. In general, we may only look at one of these [dashboards]," MacDonald indicated. "Stagnant dashboards get to be confusing and have irrelevant data on them because they're not in real-time."
How marketers collect and analyze real-time data is paramount. Today's marketers require up-to-the-minute insights, and with the right data analysis technologies and processes in place, these professionals can understand how a company is performing in real-time. Then, marketers can tailor their day-to-day business efforts accordingly.
"Your business is changing on a day-to-day basis, and the data you're tracking is changing on a day-to-day basis. This means the questions that you're tracking are changing on a day-to-day basis," MacDonald noted.
Data analysis can be complex at times, but marketers should do everything possible to keep things simple. That way, marketers can minimize the risk of data overload and gain the insights they need to succeed.
"Keep it simple. Stop trying to look at every single data point out there and start asking the questions that you need to answer to make sure that your business goes in the direction that you want it to go," MacDonald said.
Furthermore, marketers should consider data analysis solutions that are easy to use and won't require extensive IT support. These solutions should be simple to deploy and empower marketers at all levels to work together to perform deep data analysis.
"Create a platform where business users don't have to go back to IT every time they have a question," MacDonald stated. "Create a platform where business users can go to a mobile device wherever they are to ask questions and get the insights they need."
The ideal data analysis solutions foster collaboration across marketing and sales teams. These solutions enable marketers to track and assess a broad collection of data over an extended period of time.
"We're drowning in data. Data is coming from all different directions, from everywhere we go."
In addition, the optimal data analysis solutions allow marketers to work with sales teams to understand the best ways to help a company accomplish its goals.
"Once you ask the question, you've got to have the ability to collaborate … in real-time," MacDonald noted. "You need to be able to socialize your thoughts across an organization and get answers to those thoughts."
Data analysis can be challenging, particularly for marketers who are implementing data analysis solutions for the first time. But with the right priorities, marketers can uncover actionable business insights that they may struggle to obtain elsewhere and use these insights to drive revenue growth, increased customer retention and other meaningful business results.
Lastly, data analysis requires marketers to remain flexible. If marketers are open to new ideas and adjust their data analysis strategies regularly, they may be able to help a company consistently innovate and improve. As a result, marketers who can optimize the value of data could help their respective businesses differentiate themselves from the competition.