Data is a tough topic for businesses, especially for retailers

There is a lot of data out there, but not everyone knows what to do with it. Contributor Evan Magliocca explains the process marketing teams can use to maximize data insights.

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Capturing data isn’t hard, but figuring out how to use it is.

Data is a tough topic for businesses, especially for retailers. It is one of the biggest initiatives in the industry. While some retailers are stilling playing catch-up to the data initiative, most retailers have at least a partial solution in place to help identify customer data. They have data, but they don’t really know what to do with it.

How do we use data? Can we trust its accuracy? What insights can we glean, and how do we make this an initiative for cross-functional teams?  Should we keep data from causing internal strife to drive individual performance indicators?

The truth is, data opens a Pandora’s box. Many thought once data governance, attribution models and management platforms were in place, data would take care of itself and show the way forward.

But data is messy. For data to help drive a business, it takes a great deal of manpower to dig through it, find insights and determine how to get those insights to the right people at the right time.

Here are some strategies that can lessen the resource issue, maximize customer insights and produce better marketing in the process.

Sell internally

It’s amazing how brilliant some marketers can be when it comes to communicating with their customers, but they can’t sell water to a man stranded in the desert when it comes to internal team dynamics. If you’re on a customer relationship management (CRM), analytics or data team, understand that no one will pay attention until someone shines the light on the benefits, not the issues. Customer relationship management teams should run the marketing world, but they’re terrible at selling themselves.

Teams are selfish. They want to drive what makes their leadership teams happy. They want to give them a reason to care about data and how it can help drive their metrics. They want to give them the insights they need to move forward when the C-suite doesn’t know which road to take. In most cases, marketers are dying to have some insights to work from instead of stabbing in the dark on campaigns. Data is the answer; they just need to see the light.

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Core KPI

The idea of a core key performance indicator (KPI) is a very effective method of making sure data and insights are foundational to every marketing team. It usually needs to be a top-down approach, coming from leadership to managers and others. Without it, no team would ever focus on a KPI that didn’t directly correlate to its metrics. 

The idea is simple: Produce one core KPI every single team is trying to push higher. They have a goal set, and because every marketing channel is working as one team, that KPI has more intense gains than it would through fragmented attention. It takes some work and time, but the benefits are better than the alternative.

Another strategy, possibly more nuanced, is to identify tiered KPIs for which each team is accountable within its department. One metric stands above all others, then each team is given another unique set of KPIs based on its channel and team goals. This format still drives one overarching metric, but it gives teams an additional onus to drive their channels as well. That version takes a great management team with stellar communication and clear goals.

Steering committee

The best way to sell internally and to produce results on a core KPI is to develop a cross-functional steering committee. The committee’s goal is to listen to the analytics and CRM teams, help produce the infrastructure that they need to gain insights, develop test-and-learn strategies and enhance each department’s customer knowledge. Having a core KPI definitely helps to keep everyone on track, but a steering committee is crucial to ensuring that CRM teams are creating campaigns that align with their marketing partners and also that marketing partners have the ammunition they need to be more effective.

Create loyalty

Loyalty, at its purest level, is CRM on steroids. It’s not technology or a platform, or even just points and rewards. It’s understanding your customer and how they want to be treated and producing campaigns to keep them engaged. Loyalty also gives brands an opportunity to utilize and generate a lot of data. There’s really no excuse for any brand not to have some form of loyalty program. It is an important marketing vehicle, limitless in its scope and focused on customer retention. With low overhead, the data it generates is worth its own currency alone, and it lifts everyone’s sales metrics as well.

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Marketers are strapped; we all know the situation. But data isn’t a barrier and it’s not just another initiative to add to the team’s plate. Data helps teams get smarter, more efficient and more effective. With the right foundation of tactics, CRM and analytics, teams will find their work is integral and the foundation of every season’s marketing campaigns. Data itself isn’t difficult, but finding ways to utilize it can be challenging.

With the right mix of cross-functional goals, departmental buy-in and a bit of internal selling, data insights can generate a new way of thinking and drive brands to new heights.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Evan Magliocca
Evan Magliocca leads Baesman’s brand direction, content strategy, communications and product partnerships. Previously, Evan served as a digital strategist for Abercrombie & Fitch Co., where he managed site marketing, seasonal planning and digital initiatives for the A&F brands. Evan graduated from Ohio University with a B.S. in Journalism and a specialization in public relations.

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