Data will tell fascinating stories, if you get out of its way and let it talk, says Josh Reynolds, head of marketing and client consulting at Quantifind. It’s up to marketers to use their curiosity and intuition, combined with those data-based stories, to make decisions that will positively impact marketing performance. Marketers also need to use curiosity and intuition to uncover the mysteries that data can reveal, such as what’s behind changes in sales or loyalty.
Reynolds took some time before his session at DMA’s &THEN 2016 conference to discuss how marketers can get more from their data.
There’s so much pressure on marketers today, and so many things they “could” do. What’s one thing from that big list of “coulds” that marketers should do, and one “could” they should just pass on?
Let me blow up the question slightly: The real problem facing marketing is that they feel like they’re in a catch-22 between profit and purpose. Marketers are under more pressure than ever to deliver quarterly results. The way I frame it this: You can focus on your purpose and also get profit, but not the reverse.
If you play the near-term-only game and chase the numbers, it’s a race to the bottom. But if you stand for something and resonate with customers, the profit will come.
That said, you must still quantify your impact. It’s no surprise, then, that two out of three CMOs say profit analytics is a top priority, according to a Deloitte CMO study. But that same study reveals that seven of every 10 marketers are still struggling with using profit analytics. Marketers need to get conversant in analytics.
What’s one way marketers can use data to see revenue opportunities?
The number one problem marketers have with data is assumptions. You have to ask the right questions and ask the right [customers], and that doesn’t always happen. Instead, let data talk to you.
Recently, for example, we tracked [data related to quick-serve restaurants from across social, blogs, credit card data, and contact center data] and—by filtering out conversations that weren’t relevant and wouldn’t correlate to revenue—discovered two interesting customer types: cravers and complainers. The cravers know the chicken nuggets, etc., aren’t healthy but want them anyway. The complainer in the group prefers to eat healthy and will have the biggest impact if there’s something healthy they can have [at a QSR]. All the new healthy menu items at QSRs such as McDonald’s aren’t about those chains purporting to be a healthy choice; they’re silencing the complainers by giving them healthy options.
That’s one of the many types of revenue-related questions data can answer.
What questions should marketers be asking when they don’t know what they don’t know?
CMO actually stands for Chief Mystery Officer. As [chart] lines that track areas such as sales and loyalty go up and down, the CMO needs to know why—what’s causing the ups and downs. So, the first questions to ask is, “What KPI do I need to understand and shift?” Choose the KPI that matters; in other words, the line that the board cares about. Think about KPIs as Key Political Incentives.
To determine what’s causing the ups and downs, make a list possible causes, and leave room for the unknown. Then ask which data sources give the best view into the probable sources of those ups and downs.
The last, and hardest, part is to get a connected view. It’s like marketers have fly eyeballs when they look at fractured data. You need united data. When you have it, you can let data talk to you.
How else can marketers get more from analytics?
As you serve up the data, you need to add human instinct.
One QSR chain that wanted to grow its breakfast business aimed new food and related marketing at teens. The food and creative tested well, so the QSR launched the campaign…but no one came in. [By letting the data talk] the restaurant chain learned that moms didn’t like its coffee—and moms are who select where the family goes for breakfast. The QSR introduced better coffee, which nearly tripled coffee sales and nearly doubled breakfast sales.
The only reason this worked is that there was a human in the loop.
Our brain completes the data system. Two of the most powerful algorithms are curiosity and intuition. The number one function of any analytics system is to make humans ask questions. Human intuition is what draws the conclusions and finds causation. Curiosity and intuition round out the data platform. Computers don’t make decisions, humans do.
Sounds like marketers need to get closer to their data.
Humans, and marketers in particular, are in a dysfunctional relationship with data. They’re expecting the wrong things. Computers can give you better questions to ask and frame decisions. But it can’t make the decisions for you. Be careful what you feed the computer. Give it the right data, not every possible piece of data.
The future of marketing is responsible storytelling with data. Don’t poison the analyses with too much data.
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Also from DMA’s &THEN 2016 conference:
7 Decision Drivers Marketers Can Tap to Influence Customer Behavior
Data: The New Marketing Currency in a Time of Change
The Happy (Re)Marriage of First- and Third-Party Data
Marketers Live in an “and” World
POPSUGAR Uses Data to Sweeten Its Marketing Performance
5 Marketing “Shoulds” in an Overwhelming List of “Coulds”