Brent Dykes is a Senior Director, Insights & Data Storytelling at Blast Analytics. He believes in the power of data and its ability to elevate and transform what we can individually and collectively achieve.
He has worked in enterprise analytics for the past 16 years as an analyst, consultant, manager, and evangelist. Throughout this journey, he has worked with cutting-edge analytics vendors (Omniture, Adobe, and Domo) and a broad base of Global 2000 companies, including many industry leaders such as Nike, Amazon, Microsoft, Sony, and Comcast.
B.D.: For me, the three key benefits of leveraging marketing data would be a deeper knowledge of your customers, the power to optimize and improve your marketing performance, and the ability to demonstrate marketing’s contributions to the overall business.
B.D.: A common challenge with campaign data is maintaining consistent and reliable tracking. Companies often share digital advertising responsibilities between multiple agencies or internal teams, and it can be a significant challenge to enforce a consistent taxonomy and process across channels. Another challenge is not determining upfront what the desired business outcomes are. Rather than measuring campaigns against meaningful conversions, campaign performance may be based on hollow measures of activity and vanity metrics.
B.D.: The quality of the insights you receive will be a product of your measurement strategy and the underlying data. After you have a solid data foundation in place, I would encourage more organizations to focus on fostering data curiosity. Some employees may not be sufficiently data literate to properly explore, analyze, and interpret the data so basic training may be needed. For the individuals who are able to discover meaningful insights in the data, they will need data storytelling skills to communicate these insights effectively to decision makers. Unfortunately, there aren’t any shortcuts to generating insight-driven decisions. Companies need to approach it holistically and make investments that encompass the people, process, and technology aspects.
B.D.: Today, there’s no excuse not to use data to improve your marketing performance. If every euro, pound note, or dollar of your ad spend is precious right now, you want to use data to make your marketing efforts more efficient and effective. If your competitors are foolishly pulling back on their marketing investments and laying off their analytics staff, it’s a great time to gain market share and build not just for the present but for the future.
B.D.: Fostering a data culture across an entire organization is a massive effort. It’s impossible without executive buy-in and support. If you need to convince stakeholders of the positive impact of having a data-driven culture, I’d focus on showing them the difference that it makes within one team or a small department. This sample group would serve as a sort of proof-of-concept for developing a data culture. You can then extrapolate out the combined effects it would have across the entire organization.
B.D.: I’ll share with you a couple of tough truths.
First, we like to focus on the “actionable insights” that our analytics solutions can provide us, but a ton of mind-numbing work goes into ensuring the data is relevant and relatively clean so it can yield these insights. Data standards and governance aren’t sexy, but they’re important to maintaining a sound data ecosystem.
Second, while we like to believe technology is what separates the analytics leaders from the followers, it’s the talent that really matters. I’ve seen high-performing analytics teams completely implode when a key leader or individual contributor left. In each instance, the company still owned the same technology. However, they lost the people who knew how to generate value from it.
B.D.: I agree with a bunch of research firm analysts that augmented analytics will be a popular trend in the coming years. A lot has been written about how machines will replace humans in the workforce. However, before we’re all eventually supplanted by robots, we’ll see different aspects of our roles augmented more and more by intelligent agents. For example, rather than having to do all of the analysis on our own, each day potential anomalies may be presented to us for further exploration. With the click of a button, a few of these insights can be packaged up into a data story. After a quick edit at the hands of a skilled data storyteller, the data story can be distributed to targeted people who need to see it.