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Part 2: Data first! Building a data driven marketing department

In part two of our series on building a data driven marketing department, we take a closer look at how to effectively embed a data driven culture into your marketing function.

There are many reasons why marketers are failing to build maturity in data driven marketing – (explored in part one of our series) and whilst there is no silver bullet to build maturity, embedding a culture which values data and places importance on it can make all the difference.

Six principles to building a data driven culture

Graph of cix principles of data driven culture

Unleash your data

If you want your team to be data driven then you have to empower them with access to data. Despite all of the focus and attention on data, too many marketing teams are still constrained by an inability to access the data they need, when they need it. And whilst it is important for organisations to balance risk and compliance with monetisation, most fail to get the balance between the two right which can stifle progress in the data space. Whilst technology plays a fundamental role in streamlining access and ease of use, its only part of the solution. Democratisation of data is a double edged sword and embedding technology needs to be supported by having the right protocols or governance in place to be effectively managed in a way that provides protection for customers and engenders trust.

Take it from the top

In order to effectively embed a data driven culture, invested leadership is required. Whilst bottom up change is valuable, to break old habits and re-focus teams on what is important data needs to be positioned as a priority for the department and reinforced every step of the journey. This requires marketing leaders to play an active role in championing the change both within the department and the wider organisation.

Leaders who are serious about embedding a data driven culture should consider;

· If the marketing strategy / strategic priorities adequately reflect the role and focus on data?

· If KPI’s need to evolve in order to reinforce the importance of data and reward progress in the space?

· How to evolve departmental ways of working to embed data at key decision points

Lift data literacy

Data is intimidating for some – there, we said it. For many marketing teams one of the biggest barriers to overcome is the low levels of literacy of utilising data. The good news is this isn’t unique to marketing. As data has created new opportunities for growth, many functions across organisations are grappling with data literacy issues. The bad news is if you don’t address the literacy problem people will lean out as opposed to lean in and this will hamper efforts to build a data driven marketing function.

To confidently utilise data to solve problems, marketers need to;

- know what data is available

- better understand the right questions to ask

- understand core marketing analytics concepts and how they can be applied

- know how to interpret what data is telling them and how to utilise these insights to improve outcomes

To lift data literacy within their teams, marketing leaders need to combine training with practical on the job learning. Marketers themselves need to understand that data is part of everyone’s job, not a job for the analyst. Marketers need to be curious and inquisitive and be prepared to be uncomfortable in order to learn.

Measure the value

As the saying goes, what gets measured gets managed. If data driven marketing is a key part of your marketing agenda and demands investment, then it is vital to determine how you will measure progress and outcomes in order to demonstrate return, garner further investment and inform future roadmap.

This can often be more difficult than it sounds – partly because data driven marketing activities can be siloed across different activities and wrangling the performance data is challenging.

Identifying the most material initiatives, and measuring the impact and contribution can often be the best approach.

Privacy by design

As marketers increasingly leverage data to power marketing activities they are forced to take on a greater responsibility around privacy. Too often privacy measures can be an afterthought or addressed reactively due to a scare or breech. Marketers are often leading customer experience initiatives that leverage data, meaning privacy needs to be front and centre and become part of how we operate as marketers. This means marketers need to better understand privacy principles and how to safeguard customer data and their brands in everything they do.

Shift mindsets and behaviours

Embedding a data driven culture will require teams to shift from a current state of operating. That future state, amongst other things, places emphasis on testing and validated learning, collaboration and data driven decision making. Having a clear set of behaviours, two or three you seek to embed or evolve can help accelerate efforts in data driven marking.

During these transition periods it’s not uncommon – particularly in the early days – for people to resist change and work against the process. This is not unusual and teams need time to adjust and adapt to the new ways of thinking and operating.

Data driven marketing isn’t something solved through the purchase of technology, nor can it be addressed through recruitment of a specialist. To become truly embedded, marketing teams must evolve across areas of people, process and technology simultaneously to drive the shift.

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