A Google and Shopper Sciences study reported that the average shopper in 2011 used almost twice the number of sources of information to make a decision compared to 2010.
In spite of the availability of such explosive customer data, access to big data technologies and tools, a significant proportion of businesses feel that the problem lies in data-acquisition technologies and limited understanding of advanced analytics tools. Most marketers feel that the transactional and historical data on daily operations, customer behavior, or sales performance are not adequate or diverse enough to provide the full 360-degrees view of customer purchasing habits. Thanks to many open-source big data platforms available now, more and more small or cash-strapped marketing outfits aspire to reap big rewards from big data analytics.
In the report titled 2014 State of Marketing by Salesforce and ExactTarget, you can gain some rare insights on the current status of technology-enabled marketing operations. In a survey conducted by ExactTarget, of the 2,651 participants, about 98 percent expressed a desire to either increase or maintain their digital budgets, which include big data. Two other memorable feedbacks were the importance of behavior-based data and budgetary growths for data and analytics (61 percent).
In the enterprise marketing function, the CMOs in particular, are expected to seize the marketing opportunities associated with big data analytics. In a recent IBM study that involved more than 500 CMOs, 94 percent of respondents expressed strong faith in big-data analytics.
Krishnan Chatterjee, head of strategic marketing at HCL Technologies, during his conversation with the author of the blog post What Do CMOs Want? On Big Data, Better Focus And Moments Of Truth, mentioned that the present CMOs are struggling to take the most advantage of many convergent technologies and data sources to reach and influence their targets at the zero moment of truth.
Expressed Chatterjee, CMOs want to use the new tools to make their campaigns enormously more productive and cost-efficient than they were in the past. What he probably meant was that CMOs have been pressured to prove their operational effectiveness and performance directly linked to enterprise ROI.
John Kennedy, vice president of marketing for global business services at IBM, says:
After speaking with CMOs around the world, it became evident that more companies across all industries are striving to integrate their physical and digital presence in order to provide a more integrated, seamless customer experience.
Research states that CMOs are operating at three different levels: a traditionalist who still relies on conventional marketing wisdom, a social strategist who has begun to take advantage of the social channels to understand the customers, and the technology trend-settereach of whom is moving and adopting big data and associated technologies at his own pace.
Today, the CMOs are certainly in a position to leverage the diverse customer data channels, including the mobile, web, social, email, and voice data, to do their jobs more effectively. A good example is using customers individual names in mailers to increase response rates for physical and digital mail.
However, the sad truth is that a blog post from The CMO Survey states that about 37% of company projects make use of available market analytics for decision making. This survey also hints that less than 50 percent of organizations who engage in marketing analytics actually use these tools.
Here is what the CMO can do to improve the overall perception and importance of big data technologies in marketing decision-making.
In his or her enterprise role, the CMO should
- Work towards a reconciliatory relationship with CIOs:
To better acquire cross-functional data or siloed data, CMOs need to work in harmony with the CIO and other top executives to gain access and conduct advanced analytics to get the rarest insights in customer data. Enterprises that wish to leverage this information explosion need to understand that in order to make sound, business decisions, they first have to utilize data discovery tools that provide insights on various marketing roles and tasks, and can then gain use these tools to convert the insights into marketing opportunities and functional efficiency. To this end, CMOs must:
- Encourage CIOs to participate in big data conferences where the best market applications and case studies are showcased with raw facts and figures.
- CMOs should gather and present relevant information and statistics to prove the increased profit potentials of technology-aided marketing practices.
- While designing technology-enabled marketing policies, CMOs should collect and show actual results of big data analytics.
- Act as a Marketing Strategist
CMOs need to guide and mentor departments and teams of marketers to effectively collaborate with IT departments to mine, store, and analysis multi-channel customer data for increased revenue and profits. Marketing goals will need to be aligned with overall organizational goals to make IT departments more willing participants in this collaborative effort. The successful CMO can often act as a strategic mentor in the IT-marketing partnership.
- Become an advocate for Consumer privacy while using customer data to reach organizational goals
A Pitney Bowes survey reported that while consumers understand the business benefits of their data, they are also sensitive to guarding their privacy. This survey reported that about 33 percent of consumers across France, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. are unwilling to trust any type of organization with their personal data. The survey further indicates that perhaps abarometer of consumer willingness needs to be established before collecting personal information.
A Euro-barometer survey conducted by the European Commission reported that close to 74 percent of Europeans have accepted personal-information sharing as an integral part of modern life; but 43 percent of the respondents still complained that they are usually asked to share more information than necessary. A recent McCann Worldwide Group report stated that more than 50 percent of respondents said they required a firm commitment from a data-collection agency on not sharing any personal information with a third party, before sharing any data of personal nature.
CMOs, like other big-data champions, will continue to face steam from privacy activists and interest groups. Notwithstanding the privacy uproar, business leaders must encourage and educate their departments and teams about the benefits of big-data technologies, which far outweigh the privacy risks. The customers need to understand that with the evolution of data-privacy technologies such as data-encryption, big data products and services will increasingly become risk free.
To this end, CMOs can ensure:
- All local and federal data regulations are maintained and complied with.
- That the basic customer data have been accurately gathered before developing further customer relationship.
- That marketers clearly state their intentions behind collecting some data. The benefits of data sharing must be clearly explained.
- That marketers study the limits of their brand well before reaching out to customers. While presenting a big picture, marketers often end up portraying an idyllic customer experience that is not true!
- That marketers do not get easily intimidated by the data avalanche. Technology support services should exist at every business level.
- That customer feedback refuels further conversations. The CMO can design and distribute reward systems for customers who shared their data.
As head of the marketing function, the CMO should:
- Analyze multi-channel behavior:
Customers often combine use multiple channels to research their products before making buying decisions. CMOs can aggregate this customer-behavior data from multi-channel sources and utilize advanced visualization tools to understand the customer journey to final decision-making. The how, when, where, and why of customer behavior are highly critical; and powerful analytics can reveal behavioral trends and patterns through a single view. CMOs can use the gained insights to design and develop programs for targeted offers, tailored for micro-markets.
- Monitor customer behavior:
When Google published Wining the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT), Google argued that as consumers battle with information explosion, marketers must pay attention to ZMOT that preaches the importance of first impressions. Many customers can be won over with the magical impact of the first impression, much before any buying decision has been made.
To best understand their customers, enterprises need to monitor customer behavior and adjust their marketing strategies accordingly. CMOs can play a bigger role in leading marketers to assess and utilize available, big-data technologies to accurately track and monitor customer behavior.
Benefits of big data to CMOs
CMOs, along with marketing teams, can reap the following benefits from big data analytics:
1. Single view of data with easy-to-comprehend analysis
2. Evaluation mechanism to accurately gauge marketing performance
3. Tools to gain insight into customers purchasing habits
4. Tools to predict market trends and needs
5. Tools to aid evidence-based marketing decisions
6. Tools to leverage both internal and external data gathered from market-research groups, to track and monitor the effectiveness of various marketing efforts.
Here are some specific tasks that marketers can conduct with powerful, big-data analysis tools:
- Sentiment analysis
- Surveillance of consumer behavior within retail stores
- Direct communication with customers
- Predictive analytics
- Customer behavior analysis
- Response to VAS, based on customer profiles and purchasing habits
- Development of targeted ads for micro-segments.
Duke Universitys Fuqua School of Business, along with some distinguished Professors, conducted a survey, which reportedthat the marketing executives in the Fortune 1000 and Forbes 200 plan to increase their spending on marketing analytics in the next three years, some by as much as 60 percent. Many will be starting from scratch, as only 35 percent of respondents currently use marketing analytics.