• Customer and Marketing Analytics
  • Experfy Editor
  • SEP 18, 2014

The Big Data Marketer: An Artist or a Scientist?

In the big data world, we have heard about data scientists, but now the industry thought leaders are more attuned to upholding the concept of a data artist in connection with marketing analytics. So who exactly is this data artist?

From Data Scientist to Data Artist

In his White Paper From Data Scientist to Data Artist, Jim Sterne, founder of the Digital Analytics Association, and an analytics luminary, presents the novel role of a marketer as a “data artist” in business. According to Sterne, the modern marketer must demonstrate a “firm comprehension of hard science, a sound understanding of business goals and processes, a penchant for creativity, and a talent for communication – a very rare combination.”

The white paper talks at length about the differences between the data scientist and the data artist; about the presence of powerful, analytics tools; about how to move beyond reports to true analytics; and about  a marketing-analytics case study involving  a top-25 news publisher.

What Sterne suggests is that the modern marketer needs to move beyond standard reports and dashboards, and weave compelling stories from visualized trends and patterns. Modern marketing, aided by big data technologies, is about reaping business benefits without the help of “technologists, mathematicians and data analysts hanging over the marketer’s shoulder to interpret the numbers.”

The data artist often “uses data streams and advanced analytics systems in the same way a regular artist uses oil and brushes, stone and chisels or wood and carving knifes,” with the firm commitment to deliver business solutions in the form of insights.

Businesses which have long agitated on how to squeeze out more returns from their marketing budgets do not have to depend on instincts and guesswork anymore. Big data technologies provide a rich of tools that leave little to chance or guessing games. Big data analytics, as applied to enterprise marketing, guide the marketer, step-by-step, beginning with a pool of data and leading to precise, marketing solutions through a skillful combination of scientific reasoning and artistic creativity.

The present-day technologies and tools have been so fine tuned that personnel with expert, analytics skills, can comfortably utilize the business data to either forecast new markets, create better campaigns, offer personalized customer experience, or target specialized roducts for micro segments.

Art vs Science in Marketing Analytics

Here is a video titled Art vs Science in Marketing Analytics, which depicts the use of arts in combination with science in marketing analytics.

The data artist brings a unique set of skills to the enterprise marketing team, which includes a proven mastery of technological tools, data manipulation skills, advanced analytics skills to extract insights from raw data, and finally, a creative genius to transform those insights into a compelling story.

The modern marketer no longer relies on instincts to crate campaigns or predict customer behavior. The modern marketer, in the role of a data artist, leverages big data to comprehend everything from customer engagement to product innovation.

A March 2013 Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) study reported that, 37 percent of surveyed, marketing executives said that “using data analysis to extract predictive findings from ‘big data’ mattered most.”

The ideal role-playing for today’s marketer is to combine scientific and artistic skills to first develop informed, marketing campaigns, based on results of data analytics, and then to convert those campaigns into compelling storyboards.

The marketer or data artist’s arsenal may contain:

  1. Skills to visualize marketing contexts
  2. Skills to move beyond numbers to comprehend holistic trends
  3. Skills to tell a story about a brand
  4. Skills to extract insights from data analysis

According to Marge Breya, executive vice president and CMO at Informatica:

“Savvy marketers need trusted data at their fingertips to glean valuable insights and make data-driven decisions about campaigns, events, websites, PR, and beyond to optimize marketing efforts. No longer is operating on assumptions or gut feeling good enough. The data is there. Marketing leaders need to be data-first in everything they do to compete effectively moving forward.”

How do these skills translate to achievements?

Here are at least five ways that big data analytics is transforming the daily role of an average marketer:

  1. By using touch analysis, marketers can track customer response to marketing strategies.
  2. Algorithmic marketing is enabling marketers to deliver customized, real-time messages, based on customer behavior.
  3. Through the combined use of social media, CRM, and purchasing history, marketers are gaining a 360-degree view of the customer to enable personalized customer engagement.
  4. By utilizing Web click-stream data, marketers can realize higher traffic conversion rates.
  5. By monitoring campaigns from “content-to-revenue” streams, marketers are able to better predict campaign ROIs.

We would love to hear your perspective on the importance of artistry in the intersection of marketing and analytics.

The Harvard Innovation Lab

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The Harvard Innovation Lab


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