Mastering Marketing Data Strategy: The Reason Behind Your Next Raise

Shannon Fitzgerald-Lussier
December 16, 2020

To defend their budgets this year, marketing organizations are continuously asked to prove that they’re significant drivers of growth. When we surveyed marketing leaders for our report, The 4 Actions of High Growth Marketing Teams, we found a strong correlation between marketing organizations with a mature data strategy and those that received post-COVID budget increases. 

Data strategy refers to the processes and tools used to measure your marketing department’s effectiveness. Marketing organizations with mature data strategies produce multiple levels of measurement that serve their objectives, beyond only ROI. Strong marketing organizations prioritize three data strategy and measurement aspects. 

  1. Defining metrics and goals up front
  2. Automating connections between data sources
  3. Layering on advanced analytics

We explain these three aspects and provides specific actions marketers can take to implement them and set their organizations up for success in 2021.

1. Define metrics and goals up front

45% of companies where marketing budgets increased post-COVID strongly agree that they have clearly defined metrics aligned to goals–a number that is four times higher than those who had the largest decrease. And when we looked at companies with 25% or more increases in their budget, the correlation was even stronger–three-quarters of those marketing organizations strongly agreed that their goals are aligned to clearly defined metrics. 

When the team understands how metrics will get them to their goals, ensuring accuracy becomes a significant priority. But simple human error can still get in the way of achieving your end goals. To eliminate this issue, the best next step is to automate as many manual processes as possible.

2. Automate connections between data sources

One major component of automation is making sure everyone checks the same systems. Designate one to three platforms as the factual center of your marketing organization. Make sure all other integrations run through them and that all data sources meet high cleanliness standards. Having this type of automation is extremely helpful to reduce errors in data entry, and provide real-time performance updates so marketers can optimize or pivot as needed.

Automated ROI measurements as part of an organization’s data strategy was significantly correlated with increases in post-COVID budgets. 71% of companies where marketing budgets increased by at least 10% post-COVID have automated ROI measurements. Even more compellingly, every organization that saw at least a 25% increase in post-COVID budgets had automated ROI measurements.

Increasing trust in your data is another benefit of automating your connections. 63% of companies who had a post-COVID marketing budget increase of more than 25% strongly agreed that they trusted the accuracy of their data. When you can place more trust in the data, you’ll spend less time double checking your work and more time achieving your goals.

3. Layer on advanced analytics

Marketing organizations whose budgets increased by 10% or more were twice as likely to have advanced analytics layered on their ROI metrics compared to marketing teams whose budgets decreased by 10% or more. This suggests multiple layers of analytics leads to better decision making, and ultimately a larger budget. In fact, 88% of marketing organizations who got more than a 25% budget increase had advanced analytics for their ROI measurements.

How to Bring Your Data Strategy to Life

When done right, your data strategy projects contribute to your marketing organization’s trustworthiness and effectiveness. When marketing can demonstrate to finance that they’re critical to the company’s growth, we’ve seen that they can secure proper funding-even in challenging times. How do you begin on the path to an improved data strategy? Here are three steps to get you on the right track:

1. Prioritize clean data

Start by deciding how to connect different data sets, make sure your data is high quality, then confidently invest in it. Foster a culture within your marketing organization that encourages seeing data development as a strategic asset, and always making it a priority. When marketers recognize the importance of clean data and see its connection to accomplishing their objectives, they will be focused and driven in pursuit of advanced data development.

2. Connect KPIs to goals

Understand what the overarching goals are for your company and your marketing organization. Then verify that all your key performance indicators are relevant to, and in service of, achieving your organization’s goals. When you have high-quality data, you can define and create the right kinds of metrics. 

3. Automate data connections

Automating your data connections removes the possibility of human error inherent in manual processes, leaving more time for critical decision making. Your marketing team can be sure that the data being used to make important decisions is accurate, and eliminate the chance that a big decision could be made based on incorrect data. More correct decisions lead to more productivity in the department and ultimately, in the company as a whole.

Taking these three actions will make your team’s data processes efficient and trustworthy. Your marketing organization can have confidence in its data strategy, which will lead to more successful outcomes and fewer errors. When finance sees marketing is tied to financial growth, it fosters trust and a business interest in maintaining or increasing funding in the future. 

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