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Customer interactions with brands generate an abundance of digital information, but the right elements must be combined correctly to yield insights. New research from Econsultancy and Google shows how leading marketers find success by integrating data strategy, teams, and technology.

During the 21st-century consumer’s meandering path to purchase, a stream of data flows out of each brand interaction. But even a torrent of digital information is useless if you’re unable to extract insights from it.

In order to win each micro-moment of the journey, marketers need to deliver better, more relevant experiences. How do you make those experiences more relevant, though? In today’s digital world, it requires embracing a data strategy as a means to more deeply understand audiences and applying those insights to marketing and advertising. But that’s not always as easy as it sounds.

Earlier this year, we shared that marketers still reported dealing with significant data-related challenges in their analytics initiatives. Among other things, they struggle with accessing or integrating data, recruiting the right kind (and right amount) of analytics talent, and gaining executive buy-in and support.1

New research from Econsultancy, in partnership with Google, shows how successful marketers are breaking away from the pack. “Leading marketers”—business leaders who significantly exceeded their top business goals in 2016—indicate that two things are crucial to success: support from the top and a clear data and analytics strategy.

These marketing leaders are 1.3X as likely as their mainstream counterparts to say that being a more data-driven organization is a top goal for their CEO.2

Executive support for informed decision-making sets the tone for a data-driven culture. Nearly two-thirds of leading marketers say that decisions made with data are superior to those based on gut instinct.3

Decisions made with data vs. gut instinct

But for a data-driven transformation to truly take root, it needs to be embraced across the company, not just in the top ranks. Nearly seven in 10 leading marketers say that their companies use data to support decision-making at all levels.4

Along with support from the C-suite, developing a data and analytics strategy to guide the organization in its daily tasks is what gives leading marketers the edge. These marketing leaders are 1.3X as likely as their mainstream counterparts to have a documented data and analytics strategy.5

While each company’s strategy will vary based on its business goals and audience needs, a common trait of leading marketers is the recognition that removing silos and joining forces is crucial. It is true for teams and organizations, and it is also key for data and technology.

Below, we highlight three key reasons to apply an integrated approach to your marketing analytics.

1. Combine first- and third-party data sources to gain a more complete view of your audience

If your data only captures interactions with digital ads or engagements on your website, critical pieces of the puzzle are missing. Did people react to your social media ads? Have they interacted with your mobile app? Did they make a purchase in-store?

Looking at information captured by individual channels only provides a fragmented view of your customer. Marketing leaders are 1.5X as likely as mainstream marketers to say that their organizations currently have a clear understanding of their customers’ journeys across channels and devices.6

Leading marketers saying they have a clear view of their customer's journey

Start by identifying data sources you need to help answer questions related to achieving top business goals. Then, outline ways to integrate a variety of sources to help you gain a more holistic understanding of your audience. If your company does not own that data, find ways to connect the dots via data access through APIs, purchased lists, or partnerships.

2. Build bridges to share data and insights across teams

Organizational silos are a common complaint at large companies. It slows or stops the flow of information and keeps teams and business units from working together to produce outsize results.

While some companies may choose to realign or reorganize their teams to support change, one way to a data-driven transformation is to democratize your data. Marketing leaders are 1.6X as likely as their mainstream counterparts to strongly agree that open access to data leads to higher business performance.7

If step #1 is making your data accessible, then step #2 is ensuring individual employees and teams are equipped to put that data into play.

Analysts and data scientists play a critical role in a data-driven culture. However, across all types of organizations, 75% of marketers agree that lack of education and training regarding data and analytics is the biggest barrier to more business decisions being made based on data insights.8 A data and analytics strategy that includes broad education across departments gives employees a daily advantage by training them on how to make more informed decisions in real time.

For example, getting trained to read and interpret campaign-performance reports can help marketing managers see opportunities to tweak messaging and creative, while your digital marketers can learn to look at the numbers through the lens of optimizing spend.

The biggest barrier to making data-driven decisions

3. Integrate analytics and advertising technologies to truly put insights into action

Leaders are 1.3X as likely as mainstream marketers to say that their data and analytics strategy addresses how they integrate data and related technologies.

With integrated data, you gain a more complete view of your audience. With integrated technologies, you can identify valuable customer segments and apply them to remarketing strategies or deliver customized web experiences.

While uncovering an insight about your audience can feel like a eureka moment, if you don’t act, it means nothing. In fact, organizations with integrated marketing and advertising stacks are 1.4X as likely to be using customer-level data to segment and reach individuals compared to marketers without fully integrated technologies.9

Joining your analytics or marketing technology with your advertising stack allows you to turn insights into valuable actions. Leaders are 1.5X as likely as the mainstream to have an integrated marketing and advertising technology stack.10 These “full-stack" marketers are more likely to use:11

  • audience-level data to personalize their customer experience
  • digital analytics to optimize user experience in real time
  • customer-level data to segment and reach individuals
  • attribution to evaluate how channels work together and to allocate budgets

In order to delight consumers in the micro-moments they need to know, go, do, or buy, marketers need data at their fingertips to make better-informed decisions. But it doesn’t stop there. Collaborative teams who broadly share insights work together to improve each touchpoint on the customer journey, and marketers with integrated technologies apply that information to deliver more relevant, engaging experiences.

Download the Econsultancy report to learn more.