March 31, 2021
Given today’s upended, digital-first customer journey, much of the sales action happens at the top of the funnel where marketers make the most impact. More than 90% of business buyers begin their buying process with online research, eliminating more than 50% of vendors in the process, according to Hing Marketing.
Marketers are now responsible for helping to close deals, especially e-commerce ones. This has led to many marketers having aggressive revenue goals. In fact, nine out of 10 marketing leaders are expected to grow revenue, according to a CMO Council study.
With higher value comes a mountain of pressure. When marketers miss their numbers, heads will likely roll. Worse, not everyone likes their chances. Only a third of C-suite executives feel very confident in marketing’s ability to deliver the bacon. Then there’s Harvard Business Review’s cringeworthy finding four years ago: 80% of CEOs are dissatisfied with their CMO.
All this pressure has marketers re-thinking demand-creation strategies and championing tactics that show attribution to real revenue.
Data analytics can help marketers make their numbers by helping them become masters of their markets. For instance, companies focusing on data-driven marketing are up to six times more profitable year-over-year, according to Business2Community. That’s why the market for marketing analytics is expected to surpass $4.6 billion by 2025, according to Mordor Intelligence.
In addition to markets, marketers need to know their customers better than the competition does. Almost two-thirds of marketers are increasing marketing spend this year, mostly investing in MarTech to gain better customer and market insights.
Simply put, marketers leveraging customer data analytics to serve up digitally delightful, hyper-personalized customer experiences in a buyer’s moment of need will win their business.
That’s the goal, anyway.
Marketers have a long way to go to cross the finish line. Nearly 60% of marketers point to inconsistencies with the depth and granularity of customer insights, while a shocking 36% admit they don’t have the data to know their consumers, let alone anticipate needs, according to the CMO Council.
This means the race to revenue is really the race to better data analytics about customers and markets and being able to act on those insights. Not just any data analytics, either.
The pandemic showed marketers that historical customer data about buying behaviors aren’t valuable when marketing conditions change dramatically. Instead, marketers need near real-time customer data, as well as AI to analyze this data quickly. It’s about taking advantage of emerging trends, not historical ones.
Marketers also can’t win the data analytics race alone.
CMOs need to work closely with CIOs on the data supply chain, creating proper data governance and connecting data silos. Marketing needs to better leverage first-party data in their enterprise, while relying less on third-party data, which is under threat from privacy concerns.
Data analytics will produce valuable customer and market insights, and marketing must be able to act on them. CMOs will have to nurture data literacy skills inside marketing itself. This will be an enormous challenge given a small pool of candidates with data and marketing skills.
To be clear, this isn’t to say marketing should make a complete pivot from art to science. It’ll take marketing’s experience and intuition to know when something’s amiss with the insights coming from data analytics. In many ways, this race is circular.
It’s going to take a strong commitment and perseverance to win customers in the digital-first era. Marketers will need new strategies, tactics and skills and the tenacious spirit of sales to succeed.
Tom Kaneshige is the Chief Content Officer at the CMO Council. He creates all forms of digital thought leadership content that helps growth and revenue officers, line of business leaders, and chief marketers succeed in their rapidly evolving roles. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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