It’s often said that marketing is both an art and a science. The science side is increasingly in the spotlight as companies use data to optimize the customer experience at every touchpoint. But, ensuring that insights surfaced from that data lead to action requires the arts of communication and collaboration.
Highly data-driven organizations are three times more likely than others to report significant improvement in decision-making.1 Yet, 62% of executives still rely more on experience than data to make their decisions.2 When the stakes are high, decision-makers need information they can trust, easily consume, and understand.
Below are three ways marketing organizations can take action on their data to better support decisions:
Whether you have trouble connecting teams or data sources, silos can prevent your marketing organization from reaching current and potential customers. Data silos prevent you from gaining a holistic view of the customer journey. Organizational silos slow down the flow of information and ideas. What’s more, organizational silos are the number one barrier to improving customer experience.3
Outline a data strategy to organize and integrate information sources so you have the complete picture to your customers’ journeys. Collaboration and communication between departments is also key. Better yet, make sure marketers and analysts all have access to the same data sets and technology.
Good data storytelling means making data easy to process. By taking the time to visualize your data, you’ll be able to tell a compelling story at a glance.
The goal of a revenue chart, heat map, or bar graph should be to simplify a complicated idea or communicate a body of information in seconds. Tools can help make data quickly actionable by taking multiple data sources and turning them into interactive reports and dashboards. Focus on reducing misinterpretations of your data and making it easy for decision makers to act.
If the data can’t be understood, its insights cannot be acted on. But just as important, if the data and ideas are not shared with the right people at the right time, decision makers can’t fully leverage the power of marketing data.
“Real-time data is critically important. Otherwise, business leaders may be making decisions off data that is no longer relevant. The business landscape changes so quickly, and stale data may inadvertently lead to the wrong decision,” says Suzanne Mumford, head of marketing for the Google Analytics 360 Suite.
Look for solutions that offer data visualization and built-in collaboration capabilities so you can start practicing all three steps right away:
- Organize workflow and integrate data from multiple sources
- Visualize information by creating easy-to-digest, interactive reports
- Share insights by setting up dashboards with real-time collaboration
Download “Measuring Marketing Insights,” a collection of Harvard Business Review articles, to learn more about how to turn data into action.
A version of this article first appeared as sponsor content on HBR.org in August 2016.
1. PwC's Global Data and Analytics Survey, Big Decisions™, Base: 1,135 senior executives, Global, May 2016
2. PwC's Global Data and Analytics Survey, Big Decisions™, Base: 2,106 senior executives, Global, May 2016
3. Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, "Marketing in the Driver's Seat: Using Analytics to Create Customer Value," 2015.