The analytics wonderland

Posted on: Monday 20 February 2017 | Jed Mole

Jed Mole, European Marketing Director at Acxiom, writes about data and analytics and tells us how identifying, sourcing, cleaning and connecting data are all fundamentals to success.

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Let’s start with a stat which should warm the cockles of any weary data marketer’s heart. According to a recent survey, some 96% of senior marketers consider improving their data analytics to be a significant challenge – it is. The same survey found that four-fifths of them consider making significant inroads into improving their data analytics capabilities to be a big priority for the next two years, to stop their businesses from falling behind competitors – good thinking. 

Hallelujah! We need this data renaissance to continue at full tilt.

This is hardly overstating matters, the heart beating at the core of the digital economy, and the blood pulsing through technology’s veins, is data. We’re long past the threshold of the information looking glass now. Consumers are more accepting of sharing their information in exchange as part of the modern digital economy than ever before* so let’s put it to good use, right?  

In fact, in today’s world where new channels open up seemingly daily and the marketing stack is getting ever more, well, stacked, then making sure the data flows freely, intelligently and informatively to generate and traffic insights that drive a better customer experience, is the best way of making sense of an increasingly tangled and complicated web of communications, and multi-channel, cross-device, 24/7 customer marketing blah, blah, etc...

Getting real about going from thinking it a good idea to turn data into insight, to really making it happen, the same survey revealed that 71% of senior marketers found the sheer amount of data to be overwhelming rather than informative. It’s easy to say it has always been so, but surely we all know it’s especially the case now – and will only get more complicated. At the risk of getting all big-dataish, there are also the challenges of the variability of data and its ever more real-time nature; no wonder so many are turning to automation and advanced technology. There’s simply way too much data today for even the most vaunted data scientists to master using traditional approaches. 

The development of DMPs, Hadoops and the like, are all good news, though, at times, it does rather feel like falling down the rabbit hole. And, deep within it, is a nettle of truth that marketers of all descriptions have to grasp to be able to make analytics really deliver; namely uniting CRM and digital data. 

We know there are many challenges in being good at data analytics today and it’s not just the bigness of the data. Having the right talent, having the right budget and buy-in are all up there. Reports talk of data quality but is that it? No way is my view. Identifying, sourcing, cleaning and connecting data are all fundamentals to success. Yet within that, the once deafening chorus that shouted about the need to measure the real-world impact of digital marketing, seem to have lost some of their vigour and voice. Is it because they believe it just can’t practically be done?

In reality, end to end attribution of campaigns, at the individual level has to be the way ahead and it’s a journey some have already started out on for real. This is because, today there is a new magic called identity resolution, that allows us to ‘onboard’ data, connecting CRM or offline data to that of the digital world, revealing a ‘truth’ all analytical Mad Hatters would love to play with. Who wouldn’t want to answer the twenty-year question of ‘what is the in-store impact of my digital marketing?’ Surely .its time everyone stopped worrying about following that white rabbit and the depth of the hole – and took the plunge.

 *Data Privacy – What the consumer really thinks

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Jed Mole

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