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How to Get Your Marketing Team to Drive with Data


Creating a culture of analytics will help you get the most out of your marketing efforts, writes Justin Grossman.

Creating a culture of analytics will help you get the most out of your marketing efforts, writes Justin Grossman.

Over the last decade, marketers―including those in pharma―have been drowning in a sea of data. With the development of business intelligence tools, sophisticated martech solutions, and intelligent machines, marketers are under pressure to extract value from the wealth of information available.

Why? Harnessing data to make better marketing decisions vastly impacts the bottom line. It’s estimated that by 2020, 1.7 MB of data will be created every second for every person on earth. An Accenture study reported that 79 percent of enterprise executives surveyed said that companies that do not embrace big data will lose their competitive position and could face extinction. What’s more, 83 percent of their organizations have pursued big data projects to gain a competitive advantage.

With those stats in your back pocket, it’s easier to understand why savvy organizations have already started investing billions of dollars on technologies to capture a piece of this data pie. They know they need to focus on data-based decision making, and many have access to valuable insights - at least in theory.

While many marketing teams are eagerly collecting data, an unhealthy portion are failing to analyze and act on it in a timely manner. In worst-case scenarios, they’re doing nothing with it.

I get it. Even for tech-savvy marketers, the vast amount of consumer data out there can be overwhelming to say the least. So, let’s take a layman’s look at how to assess your company’s level of data maturity, why to build systems and processes triggered by specific information, and best practices for creating an analytics culture that not only generates discussion, but also action. It’s time to drive with data.

Popping the hood: Take a good look at your data

The first step in getting a fair shake out of your information is understanding exactly what you’ve got, how it’s organized, and whether it’s accurate, compliant, and accessible. 

This begins with benchmarking your data maturity, which will fall into one of four stages:

●      Stage 1: Baseline―You’re not intentionally collecting, managing, or analyzing data.

●      Stage 2: Identifying―You’re using data to identify key KPIs, but not contextualize them.

●      Stage 3: Contextual―You’re using data to paint a bigger picture of your marketing efforts, but not to guide strategy.

●      Stage 4: Predictive―You’re able to optimize AI and machine learning to pull data, forecast, and make better decisions.

Once you’ve assessed your maturity level, it’s important to examine how you’re evaluating your data. Are your data sources connected and linked by a single platform (like a CDP) that provides a comprehensive customer view? Or are they siloed across multiple applications, which leads to an incomplete customer view due to data discrepancies?

Next, analyze whether or not your data is healthy. How old it is, how it’s collected, whether or not it’s fragmented, and―of course―whether it’s even correct or not makes a huge difference. Remember, bad data in, bad data out.

Don’t forget to evaluate how your data is shared, including who has access to data reporting, how the reports are compiled and disseminated, and the speed of your overall turnaround time.

Finally, make sure you’re staying compliant. Dig deep and confirm that your data checks all the boxes for opt-in regulations and other guidelines.

Data roadblocks: What’s causing the hold-up?

Now that you understand the data you’ve got and how you’re using―or not using―it, let’s talk about overcoming barriers to data visibility, and how to source information you can really use to move the marketing needle.

One roadblock to many an organization’s data maturity is that when it comes to data, teams tend to only look at single metrics instead of considering holistic business results. There are good reasons for this, including:

●      Decentralization: Typical pharma teams are structured by channel, such as website, display, and offline, instead of having a key player or centralized function responsible for 360-degree customer profiling.

●      Vendor segmentation: Different agency partners often handle various part of the customer journey (for example, one might handle the website, another media relations). Combined with internal decentralization, this ambiguous ownership of data has been proven to be a barrier to true journey orchestration.

●      Complexity: In the highly-regulated, ever-changing world of pharma, just getting projects off the ground is considered a win. Crunching the data often gets put off until later (or never).

There are several clear symptoms that your team may not be optimally organized to achieve ideal data visibility. The first is that your data is not being acted upon in a timely manner. If this sounds familiar, your organization is hardly alone. A Forbes survey showed that 94 percent of marketers said it takes them anywhere from three days to a week to analyze the success of a campaign. And that’s just to collect data. To get ahead, marketers need to be able to access and analyze data in a timely matter.  “In today’s hypercompetitive digital economy, leaders are acquiring the ability to analyze marketing campaigns as they are ongoing, in close to real time” the study reads. “As a result, they are able to respond quickly to customer preferences or trends.”

Another warning sign your team is experiencing a lack of data visibility is that you’re only focusing on tactical measurement instead of strategic analysis. For example, it’s important to look at email open rates, but that data is weak if you’re not also studying engagement.

If your data is siloed or hoarded, you’ve also got a problem on your hands. Information that is not shared cannot be fully acted upon, and a handful of useful metrics beats hordes of siloed data any day of the week.

Grabbing the wheel: Creating a culture of analytics

After you’ve identified your level of data maturity as well as your organization’s barriers in getting to the next stage, it’s time to manifest a culture of analytics at your organization. Paying lip service to the importance of analytics only gets you so far; as you transform your marketing organization to become more data-driven, keep the following three tenets top of mind.

●      Don’t just talk the talk: Analytics should be the centerpiece of both discussion and meaningful action at your company. Robert Allen, Lead, Digital Operations Global Affairs at Bristol-Meyers Squibb, told the audience at EXL’s 2018 Digital Pharma East conference that when stakeholders ask his team to collect data, he responds by asking how the requestors will use the information to change their actions. If there’s no clear answer, why collect the data to begin with? Don’t settle for insufficient metrics when this simple question could drive better outcomes.

●      If you build it, results will come: It’s important to build automated systems and processes into your tech stack that can manage, connect, secure, and analyze the data you collect. Many teams have actionable insights at their fingertips, but either aren’t aware of it or can’t efficiently take action. Don’t be victim of data stagnation; ensure that you have the proper technical skill set in-house or through a qualified partner to implement and manage the ideal tech stack for your organization.

●      Let your data tell a story: Consider your data to be part of a narrative. What story does it tell? What steps can you take to make improvements in your collection or analytics processes? “Remember that data speaks differently to each stakeholder,” says Tatsiana Gremyachinskiy, Digital Marketing Manager at Abbott. “Are they able to fully comprehend what’s being shared?” That’s why a good dashboard should be easy to read and interpret, Gremyachinskiy says. Make sure yours provokes clear decisions, contains both quantitative data and a qualitative analysis, and reads more like a story than merely a numbers report.

In today’s pharma landscape, patients, providers, and payers have more influence than ever. To be successful, marketers must go way beyond simply engaging the physicians who are writing the scripts. Add an almost incomprehensible amount of available data to this change in the customer journey, and you’ve got a host of variables that force successful marketers to stay on their A-games. Your team’s ability to measure its marketing efforts will make all the difference when it comes to evaluating the effectiveness of your efforts, making accurate decisions, and strategizing for the future.

Justin Grossman is Managing Partner, meltmedia, and Business Founder, Talu.

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