2016: "Data-Driven" Isn’t Going Anywhere Anytime Soon

A wise woman once said to me, “If I have to hear the phrase ‘data-driven’ one more time, I’m going to throw my computer out the window.” Okay, that person was me. And I’ve come to terms with the fact that the phrase “data-driven” is here to stay, but it’s no longer a term just being tossed around for the sake of tech journalism – it’s got some substance. Data is improving organizational processes and initiatives in every industry, from healthcare to education, but marketers in the past year have really taken the cake for embracing and experimenting with data-driven strategies. According to a recent Forbes Insights study, the current state of the industry is somewhat bleak – to quote: “33% of respondents say they’re grappling with a mix of technologies with little coordination. And only 29% recognize a common set of tools emerging to support data gathering, analytics, insights, programmatic advertising and planning.” On the flip side, spend on these types of tools and technologies is exploding and expected to reach $100 billion by 2020.

Marketing Completes Analysis

Over the next year, we’re going to see an exciting maturation of data-driven marketing strategies that will help to better support a wide range of business initiatives including sales, customer experience and service, and ultimately, securing the CMO’s spot as a key member of the C-suite. How, you ask? By being smart about when, where, and how data is being used across the organization. Let me outline the ways…

  1. Data Isn’t A Marketing-Only Party: In fact, data has often been an everybody-but-marketing party. The same Forbes Insights study cited above found that data silos within an organization prevented marketing departments from having a complete view of the customer, and that’s not ideal at all. However, this year marketers had their time in the spotlight, taking the reigns in the data department and spreading the smart customer insight love across the organization.

Beyond specific lines of business, this customer data is giving organizations the information they need to overcome customer-facing hurdles that set them ahead of the pack. Predictive recommendations, improved and customized customer service, and addressing long-term pain points (ahem, Delta Airlines) are among the leading benefits that are also making consumers spend more.

  1. Customer-Centric And Doing It Well: We all know it: our data is being collected from hundreds of touch points, scoured by data scientists and analysts at hundreds of companies, for multitudes of different reasons – and the thing is, we don’t usually notice. Yes, as expected, there have been cries that this data collection is an “invasion of privacy” and “wholly unnecessary”, but what consumers are starting to understand is that this is the trade-off for engaging with companies’ often free services; they give us things we like to use, so we give them our user data.

The point is that these companies are starting to get to know us, know what we want and when, and they’re delivering better services and products as a result. Isn’t that what we all want? In 2016, we’ll see data being used to improve customer initiatives both inside and out, leading to happier customers and more sales. And that’s something beautiful.

  1. ROI, For Real: Yes, we’re saying it – we are really going to be able to track tangible results from digital marketing campaigns that prove the value of the CMO. That’s not saying the CMO hasn’t been valuable previously, but in terms of proving direct impact on the organization’s bottom line, data is going to be the ticket. In 2014, according to a Duke University study, 37 percent of CMOs reported that they’re able to prove the short-term impact of marketing spending quantitatively, while 44 percent have a good qualitative sense, but not a quantitative one, leaving 1 in 5 unable to show any impact at all.

In 2015, that isn’t really an option. Ninety-three percent of CMOs say they are under greater pressure to deliver ROI, but half still state they lack ability to tie marketing efforts directly to revenue. Here’s where we can call innovation to the rescue. Tools like Quantifind and Optimizely are providing CMOs with the data they need to measure campaign results, identify exactly which messaging is converting into sales, and ultimately prove that marketing does, in fact, drive sales.

So there we have it: a quick snapshot of how data is changing the game for not only marketers, but consumers and the wider organization as a result. 2016 is going to be an interesting year as we continue to see data be used in exciting ways (and as we continue to get to use it ourselves here at Blanc & Otus) to drive business onwards and upwards.

Watch this space to see more of our 2016 predictions.

Sophie Sieck