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How to Build a Data-Driven Marketing Team

By now, every CMO understands the need to build a data-driven marketing team. But how do you do it? Create a culture of metrics and accountability.
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If you aren’t getting the marketing metrics you need, it’s probably because you haven’t made them a priority.

In a perfect world, it’s ideal to hire a full-time analyst for this job-- the pace of your enterprise’s adoption of marketing analytics will be faster if you do. However, most marketers are faced with the reality of embarking on their measurement journeys with only the staff they already have. If you find yourself in this scenario, assign analytics ownership to someone currently within your organization-- and then make absolutely sure they have the skills, adequate support, and coverage to be successful.

You’ll want to be intentional about the skills you search for and cultivate:

Analytical proficiency. Someone with analytical skills will be able to absorb, visualize and articulate large amounts of data and complex concepts, and make decisions to solve existing problems that make sense based on the available information.

Business judgment. All the numbers in the world won’t help you create better business decisions if the analyst can’t apply sound business judgment to them. When looking at an analysis, they need to be able to ascertain what the numbers really say, whether the methodology was sound, and most importantly, what it really means. It may go without saying, but the analyst must also understand your organization’s unique products, services, industry and operations. If an analyst isn’t familiar with your business, they won’t be able to interpret your data.

Communication skills. An analyst must possess excellent written, oral and visual communication skills in order to explain the results of a given project in ways that enable an organization to learn and improve its operations. Such capabilities begin in effective interpersonal communication and extend to listening and group facilitation skills across a full platform of modalities: electronic communication, telephone and face-to-face conversations, group presentations, and so on.

Bias for experimentation. The ideal analyst needs to possess a demonstrated willingness to problem solve with new approaches.

Technical savvy. Your prospective analyst must understand how databases, CRM, marketing automation, and business intelligence tools work - and work together - to be successful in the role. This involves knowing each technology’s potential uses and limitations.

Create a Culture of Analytics

Hiring (or designating) the right people is only the first step. Even at companies that already have significant analytical activities underway, doing the analysis is only about a third of the battle. The other two-thirds involve driving it into all current business workflows in a way that prompts your organization to use and act on your valuable conclusions.

Schedule some quality time. The velocities at which most marketing teams operate today often do not accommodate analytics, nor do they allow time for reflection around implementing analytical conclusions to improve operational efficiency and company revenues. If you want to benefit from your marketing metrics, analytics are something for which you need to allocate certain periods of time.

A facts and numbers mentality. A historical focus on “soft metrics” have caused many marketing departments to become accustomed to operating outside of frameworks that are conducive to fact-based decisions and accountability. For marketing measurement to be successful, you need to bias your mindset toward hard financial metrics.

Accountability. It’s pointless to set target goals if you don’t also hold people accountable for meeting them.

Act on information instead of gut. All too often, businesses suffer from the curse of the H.I.P.P.O.: the “Highest Paid Person’s Opinion.” People may refrain from conducting valuable analysis and simply wait for their bosses opinion - or they might allow a H.I.P.P.O. to override the analytics. Perhaps this is the case in your organization. Or maybe you yourself are the H.I.P.P.O.. In either case, do what you can to ensure all relevant data and insights are communicated before the H.I.P.P.O. comes out.

Bias toward insight, not data. It can be tempting to believe your success will increase with every additional metric you measure, but this is not the case.

Of course, none of this will work without buy-in and support from executive leadership, especially the C-suite. When done right, metrics can create a virtuous circle, in which the right metrics create the support for more useful and actionable metrics. If not, you’ll encourage a vicious cycle with the opposite scenario.

Get More

For more, download my free 70-page eBook, The Definitive Guide to Marketing Metrics and Analytics.

Please share your tips. How have you worked to create a culture of metrics and accountability in your marketing department?

Last updated: Oct 10, 2013

JON MILLER | Columnist

Jon Miller leads strategy and execution for Marketo. Before co-founding Marketo, Miller was vice president of product marketing at Epiphany and held positions at Exchange Partners and Gemini Consulting. Miller holds a bachelor?s degree in physics from Harvard College and has an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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