Imagine a demand generation process informed by up-to-the-minute insight into what your prospects think, how they make buying decisions and how you could persuade them to choose you over the competition. That process already exists, and it’s called data-driven demand generation. Unfortunately, you can’t implement it until you’ve tamed the data storm that’s fundamentally altering the way business gets done in today’s world.
We live amidst a data flood that is overwhelming businesses and employees. All of us are now walking data generators. Our mobile phones, online shopping, social networks, electronic communication, GPS-enabled devices and other connected appliances produce torrents of data as a by-product of their ordinary operations.
For marketers, it’s crucial to understand that everything their consumers do leaves a digital trail—a trail rich in information that can be analyzed to produce actionable insight. The question is, how can marketers use this wealth of data to drive breakthrough strategy and campaigns, and improve their own performance as professionals?
Making the leap calls for marketers to surmount challenges around data complexity, business relevance, and skills and governance. First, understanding the data and turning it into business-relevant insight is itself a significant challenge. The 3 Vs of data—volume, velocity, and variety—make it difficult for marketers to make sense of consumers’ digital trails. Second, CEOs and boards don’t care about 99% of the metrics that marketers track. To win a seat at the head table, marketers must speak to the metrics that do matter to CXOs, such as revenue, profit, ROI and shareholder value. Unfortunately, not enough marketers are actually tracking end outcomes such as revenue or are unable to because marketing data is spread across over multiple systems and databases—which is another impediment to data-driven marketing. Finally, marketers also need to overcome common skills and governance issues. New skills and roles (such as that of the data scientist) are required to make sense of the deluge of data.
While the challenges are daunting, six fundamental steps unite companies that are succeeding in driving business results through data-driven demand generation. They are:
Understanding what you want to achieve: You can’t expect to develop a strategy or execute a tactic using data without knowing what you want to achieve. This is at the core of any data-driven marketing: making decisions based on analysis to prove or disprove hypotheses. As an aside, I want to reiterate that when you think about targets, you should think about metrics that interest CXO-level decision makers such as revenue, margin, profit, cash flow, ROI and shareholder value.
Creating a solid data foundation: Reliable data leads to robust decision making. If you treat data as a portfolio and determine the data profile that’s right for you, you can improve performance. Data highlights behavioral patterns. Lead management models can be very helpful in this regard, allowing you to identify important touch points and develop a workflow.
Tracking critical touch points: Monitoring touch points allows you to leverage data to highlight behavioral patterns. Touchpoints to think about include digital and traditional events, right from awareness to consideration and purchase as well. A well-defined lead management workflow, and disciplined approach to tracking codes and attributions go a long way in revealing the patterns that underpin customer behaviour.
Integrating your systems: Marketers need to understand technical infrastructure such as Web hosting, data warehousing, and how data flows in and out of business infrastructure. In addition, they must recognize that every business utilizes a variety of applications behind the technical infrastructure. So do make sure that you have some basic knowledge of how each of those applications works; and get your systems talking to each other.
Testing and learning: Testing and learning enables marketers to make progressively better decisions. Optimization has a direct impact on results and increases confidence levels. At edynamic, we’ve witnessed marketing optimization techniques lead to a tripling in conversion rates for outbound campaigns even as communication costs have dropped. We’ve benefited from higher-quality leads, lower costs, and an improved customer and prospect experience.
Visualizing and communicating results: My sixth and final recommendation to marketers is to make sure they tell a compelling story by visualizing and communicating results. It doesn’t have to be pretty, but it does need to show business leaders that marketing is delivering business outcomes. This is hopefully the easiest suggestion of the lot. After all, as marketers, effective communication is one of our core skills!(Source: Lenskold Group)
To sum up: the richness and magnitude of the data out there is overwhelming, and so are the resulting opportunities. Marketers who wish to drive breakthrough results, develop their skills and gain the CEO’s confidence should use the six fundamentals outlined in this blog to take their demand generation program to the next level.
For a deeper look at data-driven strategies for demand generation, watch an on-demand webinar I recently recorded. I hope it helps you refine your own demand generation program.