How Big Data Is Transforming Marketing into a Revenue Hub
Marketers have always known intuitively that their work was contributing to sales and now, big data is helping them prove marketing isn’t just a cost center.
Traditionally, marketers have gotten the short end of the stick: While it’s easy to pour large sums of money into marketing initiatives, it has been difficult to track their dollar value. But by using big data optimally, marketers now can attribute revenue to their efforts, measuring the value of almost everything they do, from websites and email campaigns to third-party advertising, social media and events. This creates an opportunity to transform marketing from a cost center to a revenue hub.
Technology to the Rescue
Facing increasing demands for accountability from CEOs and sales executives, marketers are under greater pressure than ever to tie what they do directly to financial performance. CEOs are requiring proof of ROI, and sales colleagues are insisting on greater alignment of marketing initiatives with lead conversion.
Fortunately, technology has finally caught up with the needs of marketers. Today, marketers can use robust software platforms to track and analyze the success of nearly all their activities, as well as to follow the full cycle of engagement with a prospect, from the first website visit to becoming a customer. Then they can apply their findings to improve results.
However, marketers aren’t quite there yet. Particularly those without IT backgrounds often have trouble seeing the data forest for the trees, causing them to become overwhelmed, distracted and lost. If you can relate to that challenge, here is a roadmap to get you on the right path toward harnessing the power of big data.
Smooth Data Navigating
No one platform today will cover all your big data requirements, so you’ll need to use different platforms to track different kinds of data points and then correlate your insights. There are many good solutions for analyzing certain categories of information, and it’s becoming easier to integrate platforms and aggregate data.
Let’s start with a look at some ways to gain insight from Web traffic and email responses.
Web traffic: Google Analytics, in addition to other software, will precisely and clearly measure how prospects and customers interact with your website. For example, Crazy Egg specializes in click tracking, while Adobe has an A/B testing tool that records user behavior using a heat map.
SEO: Moz, HubSpot and at least 10 other platforms provide SEO metrics for websites and recommend what to fix to increase visibility.
Website comparisons: SimilarWeb and Alexa enable you to compare competitive details on multiple sites.
Business intelligence for better targeting: Companies like ZoomInfo can analyze marketing automation or CRM databases and help identify opportunities, such as recommending target markets and ways to reach look-alike prospects.
Ad tracking: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google AdWords also have robust dashboards to help their advertisers monitor results.
The Rise of the Marketing Technologist
B2B has seen the rapid emergence of specialists who bridge the marketing-IT gap, helping marketing use the right technologies to meet its goals. Titles include marketing technologist, database marketing manager, marketing analyst, and marketing operations manager.
The best marketing technologists are:
- Analytical – able to look at any spreadsheet with large volumes of data and readily pick out patterns and trends
- Tech-savvy – deeply knowledgeable about, and interested in playing with, new technologies
- Strategic – possessing a big-picture perspective
- Passionate – enthusiastic about all the above
Marketing experience is useful but not essential.
Between recruiting the right experts and investing your own time and energy, data-driven marketing requires an enormous investment. But it is a competitive necessity and offers tremendous potential to boost your ROI – as well as protect or increase your budget.
Hila Nir is vice president of marketing and product at ZoomInfo. This article was originally published in 2016 and is frequently updated.
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