Much of my writing the last year has been around the concept of closing the gap in marketing between the unknown and the known; referring to how you should reduce untargeted message delivery to an anonymous audience and instead use data to know something about everyone, ensuring 100% targeted delivery. Data is extremely useful in this situation, but there’s a secondary gap you need to close as well, and that lies between targeting and performance. Understanding the data on the front end as well as the back end can lead to massive increases in efficiency and performance.
Many marketers spend time creating methodologies for understanding how their efforts are impacting business, but in doing so they spend a ton of calories creating work rather than reducing it. Marketers are very creative, so our first inclination is to prove that creativity by coming up with metrics that are proxies because we don’t have access to the information we need. These proxies usually sound like “cost per blah blah blah” (like “cost per interaction” or “cost per time spent”). Sometimes we come up with really creative proxies like “Marketing Influenced Customer %”. The issue in my eyes is that in doing so we are continuing to create distance between the true business metrics and our reliance on them as proof that what we are doing is driving the bottomline. In many cases, even traditional media mix modeling is an example of a crutch – something we rely on to cover up our other maladies of disconnected data. To be truly effective we need to decrease the space between the advertising and marketing on the front end and the business impact on the back-end and we need to do so in terms of two dimensions; access to the data as well as recency of the data.
The second dimension is recency and this is why reliance on technology is becoming ever more important. Your ability to establish a tech stack for your marketing that allows you to gain access to this data and process it in as-close-to-real-time as possible is important, and also quite feasible. The development of marketing clouds is solely because the stage of maturity for big data is upon our industry. If you are determining where to begin in the development of your tech stack, my recommendation is to start with the lowest hanging fruit – email and your site. These are the two most important “owned” elements of your outbound marketing. That being said, the data layer of your stack is crucial to making this work properly, and the data layer of your stack will enable you to identify data that provides you access to insights and the data layer makes it feasible to activate those insights in a fast turnaround time frame. You might have to start with your site and email, but coming closely behind will be a DMP and data partnerships.
If you enable these elements and you train your team to partner with IT and the Analysts rather than be territorial, you can successfully start to close the gap between targeting and performance while also closing the gap from the unknown to the known. These people can help – a lot! Being territorial never helps anyone and it leads to more “proxy” metrics that cover up the source of your problems. Closing the gap will actually help you become more efficient, prove your worth and substantially impact you role in the organization in a positive manner.
Are you creating new metrics or are you trying to align the ones that you have?