Inspiring a data-first culture through internal activism
At MarTech West, a case study offers advice on how to gain control over data, variable naming and the business logic for collection.
Data first. Sounds easy, until you try to implement the tools, mindset and culture in your company. At MarTech West, Dave Lucas from Fracture presented a session on how to finally win the battle of creating a culture of consistently making data-driven decisions. This topic was of particular interest to me as I have spent many years trying to inspire similar changes within organizations from several different perspectives, both when I was running a web analytics consulting firm and also when I was running a tag management vendor.
Dave took a very practical approach to provide advice and insights and recommended that companies start with the following three steps.
- Define what the company wants.
- Identify the problems they need to overcome.
- Understand what drives culture so you can influence it.
As Dave explained his path to success, he outlined that the company was looking to gain actionable insights from the data, to be able to see and understand the customer journey and ultimately to create a data-driven culture. To accomplish this, Fracture had to overcome many issues including deciding what specific combination of vendors, tool and categories they needed in their marketing technology stack. Additionally, they had to find a way to break loose from the trap of only fighting the most urgent fire versus making long term progress towards their master plan.
In particular, I thought Dave’s advice and examples about starting with a strong foundation in data were spot on. Many organizations have completely overlooked or discounted the importance of ensuring that they have a solid foundation and data layer in place across all of their vendors to enable their long-term goals of becoming more sophisticated digital marketers. Specifically, Dave called out the importance of investing in a Customer Data Platform and shared that when his journey at Fracture began they had 25 different data silos that were not well integrated and could not talk to each other. By implementing a strong data layer and CDP, he was able to gain control over the collection of data, variable naming and the business logic for collection. The result was far richer data profiles of customers, the ability to enrich online profiles from external data sources and much tighter integration with retargeting and email vendors to help drive conversion.
Dave concluded the session with some useful bits of advice for the audience:
- Do not think of your CDP as a marketing tool, think of it as a data tool.
- Be cautious of tools calling themselves CDP and how many vendors are now jumping on the bandwagon.
- Move beyond totals in your reporting and analysis. They are very high level and tend not to be actionable.
- Create a discovery lab where colleagues from across the company can have access to marketing data.
- Shift your perspective from totals to segments.
On this final point, Dave shared a great example of how by applying this approach to their data they were able to understand a new and high-value segment of B2B buyers who bought large quantities of small sized prints. This revelation aided in driving further value from the segment and several high return marketing campaigns.
Although Dave makes the process seem easier than it is for most, I appreciated his practical battle-tested advice about vendors, culture and analysis. His advice should be heeded for all marketing and data professionals who are struggling to get their organizations to adopt a more data-driven culture.
This story was updated to clarify the marketing tool used is a Customer Data Platform (CDP).