One of the side-effects of our always online existence is that everything has become visible and measurable. As we all rummage around in the virtual world, we leave behind a trail of digital detritus that others can find, accumulate and sequence: What we do, where we go, who we are and what we think can all be discovered and refactored with unnerving ease. This has raised many alarms about privacy and security, but has also introduced opportunities for marketing professionals.
I’d argue that the new world of digital marketing is upending
the whole marketing profession.
Marketing used to be a largely subjective,
qualitative, artful enterprise. For sure, we could do research, conduct
elaborate focus groups, and painstakingly gather data to inform decisions and
discover the impact of our marketing activities, but all this was arduous and
often ad-hoc. We’ve moved from an environment of information sparcity to
information overload. Instead of ‘mining’ for data, we’re dealing with the
Today, data-driven marketing is becoming the norm. Expectations
of what marketing can achieve are changing. Most important, there’s a new level
of expected accountability.
Some years back I got a Ph.D. and as a result accumulated
more knowledge about statistics and research methods that I thought was
healthy, or useful. Turns out, my old stats texts are the books I’m referring
to most. I’ve been interviewing for a new job and a common ground for
questioning is “how do you measure the effectiveness of what you do?” I’ve even
seen job descriptions that single out the ability to conduct A/B and multivariate
analysis of campaign data. Being able to read data – and to conduct marketing
from a data-driven perspective – is a vital skill today.
Of course, data isn’t wisdom, as Wharton Professor
George Day has pointed out. According to him, the amount of data a company
faces is doubling every 18 months, while our ability to sift and assimilate the
data is remaining pretty much static. Day and his colleagues advocate ‘adaptive
marketing experimentation’, an approach to marketing that fosters data-driven
decision-making by continually testing variations on different solutions – a fail-fast,
discover-quickly methodology. Their views are informed by a recent
IBM research report created from interviews with over 1,700 CMOs. The
leading issues for these CMOs: data overload, social media, channel
proliferation and shifting demographics.
recent article is a great read. And after you’ve finished, see if you can
find those old statistics textbooks in the attic.