Most marketing executives will agree data-centric strategies are the way of the future. But we’ve also seen a steep learning curve for implementation. How can marketing leaders successfully navigate a large-scale operational shift from opinion-based to data-driven decision making?
The key to guiding your organization through this sort of digital transformation isn’t about finding the perfect technology solutions. It isn’t about one specific business intelligence (BI) tool or platform. And it isn’t about generating an all-encompassing dashboard or report. Sure, BI tools, dashboards and reports are all facets of digital transformation. But the real key is in guiding the cultural shift at your organization.
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Step 1: Digital Transformation Starts With Culture
Spearheading the change in culture, at both the leadership level and across the broader organization, is your first priority. This should come before even selecting your technological approach to measurement. You want to ensure that leadership has the right mindset around how they’re making decisions—resources poured into measurement are worthless if leadership isn’t using data to drive business decisions. Moreover, it’s also important for your measurement/analytics team to have some knowledge of the decisions being driven by the data.
The takeaway: Before you begin thinking about specific technologies, make sure you’ve secured the proper buy-in across your organization and that your cultural is ready to handle an operational shift.
Step 2: Provide the Right Training
The next step is ensuring everyone has the proper training to understand how to implement analytics and/or garner insights from data. This includes leadership and all employees who will view or use reports (for example, a Google Analytics report). Of course, you wouldn’t expect everyone to have the same level of expertise as your analytics team. However, everyone using a report should have at least a basic understanding of how that report was generated.
Here’s a simple, actionable way to get started: Ask everyone who will view reports to become Google Analytics certified. It only takes a few hours and will help deepen your team’s understanding of analytics in general and what’s possible to measure.
Step 3: Collectively Determine What’s Important to Measure
Before you can tackle the nuts and bolts of how you’re going to measure and collect data, you have to decide what data you’re going to collect and what metrics will be most valuable to your organization. This needs to be a collaborative decision between leadership and the analytics team. Leadership will ultimately be using the data to make business decisions. Meanwhile, the analytics team has in-depth knowledge of the full measurement process. From the start, leadership and analytics should be working collectively to determine what will be measured and what business decisions will be made based on those measurements.
Step 4: Make Sure Data Can Be Trusted
During a digital transformation, it’s possible to become overly focused on the powerful potential of analytics and miss sight of more fundamental aspects such as data validation. Be careful! It’s critical that by the time data is presented, it’s 100% trustworthy. Lack of trust in the accuracy of data is one of the top reasons why executives go back to making opinion-based decisions—they don’t believe they can trust the data. So before leaping ahead to something complex like, for instance, predictive analytics, make sure that you’ve laid the appropriate foundation and you trust the accuracy of the data you’re collecting. Focusing on Data Governance – knowing what data you’re collecting, how it’s labeled and where it’s stored, is a great first step.
Step 5: Be Honest with Your Analytics
Finally, it’s important to use analytics honestly. Communicate data clearly both when your campaigns succeed and also when they fail. Measurement isn’t only about celebrating what’s working. It can be just as valuable to use insights to identify what’s not working and to improve the performance and return of your marketing strategy. Be honest and show what’s not working (and how you’re modifying your approach based on data). You will gain respect and trust by not only presenting the pretty angles.
Digital transformation isn’t a quick fix to a single problem. It’s an operational shift. It’s an iterative process and shouldn’t be rushed. But with the right approach, moving from opinion-based to data-driven decision making will ultimately lead to big wins where it matters — your organization’s bottom line.