Data has revolutionized marketing. Using data, marketers today can better understand their customers, deliver personalized one-to-one experiences, and drive significant bottom-line results. But along the path to data-driven marketing nirvana, most CMOs will encounter at least a few monsters. Here are some of the most common examples of nightmare scenarios and a few helpful antidotes in case you happen to see them.

The (Data) Swamp Thing

Many companies are rushing to embrace Big Data, and many of these have created Data Lakes. A Data Lake, a term coined by James Dixon, CTO of Pentaho, is a large, enterprise-wide data management platform such as Hadoop where a vast amount of raw data is stored in its native form until needed. Data Lakes offer organizations lots of new capability and flexibility. However, in their rush into Big Data, some IT departments have moved quickly and haphazardly to fill their Data Lakes with customer and marketing data. Focused on success metrics like how quickly they “fill the lake,” they move data without much regard for how it will be used. Without data definitions, quality metadata, and data lineage, the data in a Data Lake can be difficult to put to good use. In these cases, the Data Lake morphs into a CMO’s worst nightmare: “the data swamp.” Like Peter Sondergaard of Gartner says, “Data is the oil of the 21st century. For all of its value, oil is useless thick goop until it’s refined into fuel.” A data swamp makes this refinement nearly impossible.

The Antidote

To stop this monster in its tracks, insist on the following:

  • A Business Question or Hypothesis-Driven Approach. Often the biggest challenge is to follow the 80-20 rule and identify the 20% of the data that provides the right insights. Prioritize data based on business value and business need.
  • An agile, iterative approach to managing, analyzing and activating data.
  • Robust, high-quality data definitions, metadata and data lineage.

 

The Frankenstein (of Fractured Experience)

How many times has something like this happened to you? You browse the web, shopping for something you’re really interested in and excited about, say a new golf club. You do your research, find your ideal club, and make the purchase. Maybe you didn’t get the best price, but you’re heading into the weekend with your new club, with reservations at your favorite course, and a forecast for beautiful weather. Everything is going great. Until you get the email. The email that reads “Hey, here’s 20% off the price of that new golf club you’ve been shopping for.” And, its from the same company you purchased the club from yesterday. Aren’t those marketers clever?

Unfortunately, this scenario is all too common. When I mention examples like these, almost everyone has a horror story of their own to share. Often more than one. Organizations implement re-marketing capabilities, using your behavior in one channel to follow up later with messages and offers in another channel. The trouble comes when data silos exist across these channels and there’s a lag in how quickly the data is integrated. So the decision to send you an email with a discount for that new golf club doesn’t see the transaction data showing that you just purchased it.

The Antidote

To avoid this nightmare, insist on the following:

  • A Focus on Customer Experience. Keep people, your prospects and customers, constantly in mind in terms of understanding their decision journey, improving their experience and meeting their needs and expectations.
  • The Right Data. Make sure your decisioning systems and marketing automation systems have access to the right data, in real time or relevant time depending on the use case.
  • Identity Resolution. A strong identity resolution solution, so you’ll know that you’re interacting with the same prospect or customer, even if they’re using multiple devices and browsers.

 

Avoid these monsters, and sleep well.

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