Research: Driving strong business growth through data-driven marketing transformation

February 2019

New research from Boston Consulting Group (BCG), commissioned by Google, found that best-in-class digital marketers benefit from 1.4 times greater cost benefits and up to 2.5 times revenue impact.

This new research builds on what BCG found in its initial study last year – that just 2% of brands are best-in-class at data-driven marketing. Yet best-in-class brands drive up to 20% more revenue and 30% more cost savings as a result. So there’s a lot of value being left on the table. 

The initial research also uncovered the specific practices that leading marketers follow to achieve these compelling growth results. Some of these top practices include: 

  • using advanced machine-learning based technologies, 
  • connecting data, and 
  • applying actionable measurement.

To measure the specific value achievable by applying these key practices of digitally-mature marketers, BCG ran tests with six brands.

Through 16 tests, 200 brand surveys, and more than 40 expert interviews, this new research revealed how the most successful marketers are driving impressive results:

1. Advanced data-driven technologies drive business growth.

BCG’s latest study shows that after just four to six weeks of tests using advanced data-driven technology, advertisers saw increases of up to 50% in online transactions. These resulted in significant growth results, with up to 33% in return on ad spend, alongside up to 44% drop in cost per action.

2. Advanced data-driven technologies alone aren’t enough to secure success: people play a vital role.

While the available technologies are powerful, ongoing input from people remains critical in driving performance. Businesses must have people in place to make smart strategic decisions, optimise the technology, and decide how best to apply machine learning-based algorithms to campaign objectives, category characteristics, and customer behaviours.

According to BCG, companies using advanced data-driven technologies can produce up to 20% better campaign metrics over time, and that adjustments to the campaign by people can add another 15% to performance.

3. Organisational and technical best practices help scale the impact on campaigns.

BCG’s survey of over 200 global brands showed that more than 85% of those in the two most advanced stages of data-driven marketing maturity (Connected and Multi-moment) also have high organisational maturity.

The new study shows that advertisers who apply both technical and organisational best practices get better results. In fact, organisationally mature brands are seeing 1.5 times greater cost benefits and up to 2.5 times the impact on revenue from their data-driven marketing efforts than low-maturity marketing organisations.

4. Sustainable improvements require organisational best practices – but some quick data-driven wins are possible.

The BCG research indicates that before scaling up, marketers need to create momentum by systematically testing, learning, and showing clear value to senior stakeholders.

Looking longer term though, companies’ success will require breaking down internal silos, embedding expertise with in-house teams, and establishing strategic partnerships.

Download the full report to see how you can realise the true potential of digital marketing transformation to drive your business growth.

The Digital Maturity Benchmark tool

To go a step further, see how your digital marketing measures up. Use the new Digital Maturity Benchmark diagnostic tool, also available on our Tools page, to start your own in-depth assessment and develop your roadmap to digital maturity.

The Digital Maturity Benchmark tool is endorsed by IAB NL, Sveriges Annonsörer, Mainostajien Liitto and the Belgian Association of Marketing (BAM). 

With the help of the Digital Maturity Benchmark tool, your organisation has the opportunity to see where you are in your digital development.

- Tobias Eltell, acting CEO at Sveriges Annonsörer, the Association for Swedish Advertisers

"Digital is the future and many companies want to transform to be more digitalised, but are looking for information on how to do it," explained Tobias Eltell, acting CEO at Sveriges Annonsörer. "With the help of the Digital Maturity Benchmark tool, your organisation has the opportunity to see where you are in your digital development. The report shows what you need to focus on and we are happy to offer this tool to our members."

Riikka-Maria Lemminki, CEO of the Finnish Advertiser Association, Mainostajien Liitto, added, "The Digital Maturity Benchmark is an effective way to understand how competent your organisation is in digital marketing by helping identify the most important development areas, but above all to take next steps to be more successful."

"Digital is key - and the Digital Maturity Benchmark tool has come at the perfect moment to support marketers throughout their digital journey," explained the Director of the Belgian Association of Marketing, Patrick Steinfort. "BAM is proud to be a partner of this initiative which fits perfectly within our Meaningful Marketing Model."

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