All business decisions must be data driven & measurable today. In fact personal decisions too are based on data, especially when it comes to investments. So also with marketing investments. Marketing activities which are the base for marketing investments, needs to be more data driven, more scientific, more measurable.
If marketing is to be majorly data driven, then the first requirement is the availability of data, more specifically marketing data. While the availability & volume of digital marketing data is legendary, the same cannot be said for offline marketing. But there are problems in digital marketing too. For example, the deep automation that is the base for programmatic marketing leads to an opacity except to the team that directly manages the online campaign. (Not to mention the duplication of universe data between major digital platforms like Google & Facebook – but more about this in a later para.)
So, how do you ensure that marketing is data driven in a sustainable, repeatable, systemic manner?
The first step is obviously to make the latest marketing data available by bringing it to a central repository. And ensure that the data is updated as often as possible. Of course, all this is possible & currently achieved by uploading data collated from spreadsheets. This even works well when analysing individual campaigns. But there are serious limitations in using this method when the data crosses a certain size. And this method poses several challenges when it comes to multiple campaigns & historical data.
All this & more is possible by creating a Marketing Data Lake. And what’s more, with today’s technology it is possible to use automation to create & regularly update the Marketing Data Lake.
Marketing Data Lake
Imagine a structure which is based on the latest information technology tools. A structure which can absorb & hold vast, unlimited amounts of data. Terabytes of data can be constantly accommodated into an elastic data store. The Marketing Data Lake is a repository which expands automatically, adding storage as & when required. With minimum consumption of expensive resources, on a need-base.
The use of the Marketing Data Lake is clear in digital marketing. Vast amounts of digital marketing data are available in near real time for every digital campaign. This data needs to be analyzed & new follow-up campaigns created & launched on a personal level for each consumer / cohort. By the way, the current method depends on tracking consumers by using cookies. But the current trend is clear that this is likely to change in the near future, as tracking consumers by using cookies will soon be discontinued completely.
To be effective, a Marketing Data Lake must necessarily include data that covers the entire spectrum of marketing activities & investments. And ideally extend to sales, competition, market research & more.
Creating your Marketing Data Lake
A Marketing Data Lake fills the need for a central repository that is home to all your data pertaining to marketing activities, marketing investments & their outcomes. And it must be available in as near real time as possible.
While digital platforms like Google, Facebook& Microsoft do make their data lake partially available to advertisers, these are limited to the individual digital marketing platforms which is not likely to comprise 100% of any organization’s marketing investments. Besides, there are issues & limitations. For example, each of the above platforms has its own definition of “universe”. And there is very little scope for eliminating duplication across platforms.
If your organization invests significantly in marketing, then you must have a plan to create & maintain your Marketing Data Lake. This is the only way to ensure that your organization becomes data driven, and digitally transforms your marketing department & ultimately you entire organization.
Ideally, your Marketing Data Lake should be a data repository of all marketing investments & their KPIs/outcomes, not just digital.
It must specifically include investments in electronic media, print, outdoor, activation, promotional offers, share of voice, et al.
And to complete the picture, it must store data pertaining to sales, promotional offers, pricing changes, competition data, etc.
Automate Data Top Up
The next thing to ensure is that the data lake is constantly topped up with the latest data – to fulfill this, you need to set up automated updates of the data, based on your marketing activities (known as ‘first party’ data). This can be achieved by setting up unified workflow processes for your marketing teams across your entire enterprise. Processes which “stream” the marketing transactions data into the Marketing Data Lake.
The second set of data which comprises sales, competition & other relevant data must also be streamed / updated regularly – to present a 360 degree view of marketing.
The Key Results
There are two Key Results for a Marketing Data Lake:
- Marketing Data Lake should immediately increase the visibility of marketing data by 100% (on a need to know basis) by showing ongoing & past marketing investments & their outcomes through various live dashboards for executives & the C Suite. These quick-reporting dashboards should present the true picture of marketing investments & activities.
- The huge, updated data set should increase the frequency of analytics exercises. The regularly updated data set will make it feasible for testing & building analytics algorithms to increase efficiency & set directions for marketing. This is where having the previous year’s data comes in handy – for building analytics models & algorithms.
Over & above this, the Marketing Data Lake should be linked to an Analytics Platform which can host multiple existing & in-the-pipeline models (curves, algorithms) which feeds in on the massive data – current & past.
Customer Data Platform
As things evolve, the Marketing Data Lake will receive more & more data on digital customer behaviour, which must be ‘stitched’ with the offline marketing data (already available in the lake.) This will ensure a three sixty degree view of the customer, optimal targeting with minimum duplication in target audiences. This may balance the high dependency on Google & Facebook/Meta & even slow down their increasing rates.
The world is witnessing increasing concerns of consumer data privacy, especially online. This has resulted in the imminent threat of discontinuing “the cookie regime”. Some say this will benefit large platforms like Google & Apple who are automatic aggregators of personal data.
Be that as it may, the current methods of re-targeting consumers based on their online activities will soon not be valid. The Marketing Data Lake which is future ready, can then behave as a Customer Data Platform, based mainly on first-party data.
Digital Transformation of Marketing
You can digitally transform enterprise marketing in 3 steps, each with its own immediate benefits:
- Benefit from Unified Processes Across Digital & Traditional Marketing.
- Get The Big Picture from Your Marketing Data Lake.
- Be Future Ready with Customer Data Platform.
All this will help bring the real benefits of marketing analytics right inside your marketing process.
Article is authored by Biswajit Das, Founder, BrandIntelle Services.