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Decluttered marketing that delivers data-driven experiences

By Moagi Bodibe, Marketing Services and Transformation Lead for Accenture Song, Africa

The fact that 57% of marketing executives admit they often don’t have the data to understand customers or anticipate their needs is an existential problem. No matter the industry, customer data and insights are vital to helping deliver meaningful experiences, create strong engagement and achieve customer satisfaction.

So, since marketing is so integral to driving direct sales and revenue, why is the much-needed data so elusive? Well, marketers are stuck in the clutter from how organisations have evolved in the digital era. Layers of technologies and touchpoints have made marketing complex, overwhelming marketers with endless tasks and data black holes. The pressure is on marketers to collect, connect and stay current on customer data to deliver business value. Still, the tools, competing priorities and ingrained ways of working make it very difficult to modernise how marketing works.

Getting the data house in order 

At Accenture, we surveyed over 1 000 senior marketing executives across industries and countries to learn how marketing is changing and what leaders expect for the future. We segmented them into 17% Thrivers, 66% Strivers and 17% Survivors – based on how they treat customer relationships.

One group of marketing executives has cut the clutter. They are called Thrivers. They deliver superior revenue growth, profitability, and customer satisfaction, and their teams are invigorated. Everything that Thrivers do relates to how well they continually collect data, extract insights and act on them in a timely way to deliver data-driven experiences.

More than half of marketing organisations fall into the Strivers category – they have always struggled with customer data. They usually don’t have a strategy for managing first-, second- and third-party data, often don’t connect anonymous to known data, and sometimes lose opportunities to derive signals and patterns that drive better experiences. So, while they have data from more channels than two years ago, they still admit to a data gap. This data gap is a liability and creates a clutter of ineffective marketing activities in its wake.

Most consumers reimagined their values and purpose during the pandemic, and expected brands to understand and address how their needs and objectives have changed during disruption. Marketers, therefore, need to get reacquainted with customers by collecting rich data, which privacy-related policy changes are making more complex to obtain. As such, Thrivers are getting creative about how they collect data themselves with new loyalty programs, polls and sweepstakes. Knowing a customer’s name, email and purchase history is no longer enough. The holy grail is “golden data” – hundreds of insights about customers so marketers can tailor experiences genuinely.

Tip 1: Start with the right platform. Build from there.

Over 85% of marketing organisations plan to or have invested significantly in new technologies to keep up with data volumes. Some of the solutions that were selected have a platform that can collect, deduplicate and build the richness of customer data attributes. But the platform is only part of the solution. It should be grounded in effective data management, governance and data integration upstream and downstream. Data democratisation is also essential so that marketers don’t need a data science degree to understand what the data is telling them.

Tip 2: Experience is everyone’s responsibility

No one sees customers the same way. It’s one thing for marketers to declutter how data is managed within their department. It’s quite another to tackle the data dilemma in other front office parts. Enriching customer experiences means unifying data to create a single source of “golden” truth that serves marketing, sales and service, which informs all their activities. The more marketing organisations take the lead on unifying customer data, the more empowered they can become.

Tip 3: Execute at scale

Technology can help marketers master omnichannel marketing by connecting and continuously improving physical and digital experiences through a virtuous loop of insights. Digital-to-physical or physical-to-digital and back again is seamless. It is compelling considering customers’ expectations for boundary less experiences. Instead of being focused only on their workstreams, employees begin to rally around both the customer and their organisation’s collective difference. Thrivers know this well. They are 40% more likely than Survivors to focus their use of data to drive a shared ambition and differentiate their brands.

Tip 4: Drive efficiency and growth

Leaders can use data to prioritise where they direct time, money and resources for more creativity, innovation and business growth. They can also pinpoint the best ways to use automation and ecosystem partners to work at speed and scale, while keeping internal teams fresh and inspired. 95% of Thrivers say that a highly agile operating model is key to marketing having a successful data strategy. Thrivers understand the importance of getting marketing execution right and are using technology to free up teams to focus on activities that differentiate the brand. Almost all (90%) have industrialised marketing operations to reduce overall complexity, likely turning to global execution models.

Let the decluttering begin

No matter what initiative is launching on a channel or in a market, the CMO and marketing team should measure the data the campaign feeds back to marketing. Return on data should make the business case for all marketing initiatives.

Modern marketers don’t have to be data scientists, but they need some data skills. Because long-term data management is required to stop the clutter from reappearing once it is under control – this need for skills will influence how CMOs hire and train people. The good news is that learning to ingest, process and share data in marketing can start small with more straightforward business intelligence tools and grow over time.

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