How are you managing marketing data? Is marketing data driving your decisions? These are some of the most important digital transformation questions that small and large businesses alike need to be asking themselves right now. Without having access to marketing data, developing the ability to analyze the data and taking appropriate marketing actions based on that data, business is at a distinct disadvantage.

Do you think marketing data is important to your business?

What Is Marketing Data?

Marketing data is comprised of the total collection of information, statistics and results compiled from all marketing sources and activity conducted for business. Said another way, marketing data is essentially everything that can be collected, measured and analyzed about the platforms, tactics and results of a company’s marketing efforts.

The Importance Of Marketing Data

If you are making decisions without the benefit of testing, data, tracking, measuring, changing and measuring again, you are likely going to have some challenges. Not the least of these challenges will be that you are forced to make decisions based on guesses rather than facts. Furthermore and quite possibly more dangerous is that marketing without data as the foundation can more often than not lead to poor results.

Digital marketing that is effective, by its very nature requires some fact based decisions that are measured using data. If you are not collecting data on your efforts, you will be unable to honestly evaluate whether the results are actually profitable. We call this throwing money out the window. Something that is more common than you might think in marketing.

Marketing Data Forces Objectives

One of the advantages of collecting marketing data is that it forces your organization to establish clear goals and objectives for your marketing campaigns. Marketing data removes the unknowns and therefore requires a conscious and objective review of what is being done and what should be done differently.

While reviewing a recent marketing data study conducted by Ascend2 of more than 50,000 professionals, it is very clear that the most effective brands and organizations take marketing data very seriously. Let’s go through some of the statistics from the research and break down the information in bite sized chunks that will crystallize it for you.

Marketing Data Priorities, Goals and Objectives

What are the most important goals of marketing data?

Improve ROI measurement – 68% of those surveyed cited ROI and its measurability improvement as an important objective of their data management strategy. This key objective reflects the number one goal of those surveyed. If you want to achieve return on investment from your marketing, you first need to have it as a focus. From there, measuring, analyzing and modifying your marketing from the data becomes possible. This is clearly understood by many professionals surveyed.

Improve Marketing Data Quality – 63% of professionals stated that data quality improvement is a priority of their marketing data program. Though it may be common sense to some, data integrity is key to effective marketing decision-making. If the marketing data you are using isn’t entirely accurate, your decisions definitely won’t be either.

The larger your organization, the larger your marketing data pool, as well as the number of sources of marketing data. This will undoubtedly result in inconsistencies caused by multiple sources of marketing information, campaigns and technologies, which become a significant challenge to manage. Larger organizations really need to have an effective strategy that compensates for this fact using expertise and technology to unify the data stream and improve its accuracy.

Increase Data Use/Accessibility – If your marketing data isn’t readily accessible by those who need it, it will likely not be used regularly or effectively. This challenge was cited as a key objective to improve by 55% of those surveyed. Not a small percentage and one that becomes challenging for any size organization, as data becomes more important to their success.

Improving Database Integration – Similar to data quality and accessibility challenges, unifying marketing data repositories needs improvement for many. In fact, 32% of professionals said this was a key objective for their organization.

Improving Marketing Data Richness – The richness of marketing data refers to the type and detail contained within it. 26% of marketing and business executives expressed that this is a key goal of their marketing data strategy. It is no surprise that if you are focusing on the data surrounding your marketing, you will quickly start to inquire about more detail that is not represented. This interest in more detail is driving this priority for marketing professionals.

The last two priorities mentioned in the Ascend2 study were 1) Increasing the budget priority – 13% and 2) Reducing the data skills gap – 10%. Though these ranked as the two lowest priorities of current marketing data program objectives, they are not relegated to unimportant. Data management, marketing data unification and analysis are not inexpensive challenges that need to be overcome. Furthermore, the technologies, skill sets and human resources required by larger organizations with a lot of data can’t be underestimated here. While at the same time, smaller brands still have the same marketing data requirements that can be handled largely by of-the-shelf solutions, the expertise and expense required is still elevated.

The Benefits of Marketing Data Decisions

Finally, the study on marketing data strategies and objectives asked professionals about what they considered to be the biggest benefits of data-based marketing decisions. As we covered minimally earlier, there are a few key areas that marketers emphasize related to making their marketing decisions based on data, but here are numbers on this topic.

The benefits of decisions based on marketing data are:

More accurate decisions – 45%

More cost-effective decisions – 27%

More competitive decisions – 14%

Faster decisions – 6%

As digital transformation touches an increasing number of businesses around the world, the bar for that transformation continues to escalate as well. Brands, startups and small business are beginning to realize that marketing sophistication is scaling and that requires new ways of doing business and changes to making business and marketing decisions.

Marketing data is at the heart of digital transformation and is no longer something that brands consider to be a luxury. From the largest down to the smallest of organizations, the adoption of marketing data within their business units will become the heart of decision-making. Knowing what you know and proving it, as well as knowing what you don’t know makes the difference in the results of your digital marketing efforts. The ability to see, understand and utilize the information from your efforts will transform your marketing results.