Becoming Indispensable in Marketing as a Digital Analyst

photography-801891_1920If you work in marketing, this video should scare the bejeepers out of you. A handful of kids tell you that life is about to get a whole lot more complicated. Take the two minutes to watch it. I’ll wait… We Are The Future


There – now don’t you feel a little behind the times?
I always get freaked out watching that even though I know that the answer is in collecting and analyzing data, which has fascinated me for twenty years.

The epoch of Market Research gave way to the era of Marketing Mix Modeling. That, in turn, was overtaken by the age of clickthroughs and pageviews. Today, customer data is generated on an unfathomable scale.

That means that being a marketing professional these day – and specifically becoming indispensable to your organization/clients – requires a working knowledge of the numbers; not just what they are, but what they mean and how to delve into them. For that, the following knowledge, talent and skills are needed:

Find Out Where You Are Starting From

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. But to ensure that it’s in the right direction, find out where your organization is on the Digital Analytics Maturity Model. It’ll only take a few minutes but provide a great deal of insight.

It’s All About the Journey

Even with years of experience, there is no end game. Deriving insight from data is an ongoing process. There is no final, automated solution from which all insights flow. It’s an expedition of discovery and that requires collaboration. Collaboration requires evangelism which simply means finding ways to share your enthusiasm.

Warning: Do not share your enthusiasm for the data, the complexity of your efforts, or the curious, technical hacks required to bend the data to your will. They will find this as exciting as your doctor telling you how they go about extracting bone marrow from your spine.

Instead, share your enthusiasm for the ways your findings can help them accomplish their goals. That will make them sit up and take notice.

Data Quality Assurance

Garbage in, garbage out. Before you start slicing, dicing, munging and mining, you’d better be sure your data streams are clean, your data sets match up and your real time feeds are timely. Data quality is also in the eye of the beholder. The most pristine data in the world is useless if you are not crystal clear about where it comes from and how reliable it is.

Get Your Head out of the Clouds

Big Data is not the answer, primarily because nobody knows the question. Having some data or even lots of data does not obviate the need for creative thinking, analytical thinking and critical thinking. The numbers do not remove the hard work of making decisions, they simply provide another perspective.

Get Your Head out of the Gutter

Seriously granular, low-level metrics, or just those that are easiest to understand, will not help you see the big picture. They are usually ill-defined and everybody in the organization thinks they are derived from different data. Ask three people in your organization for their definition of a given metric and cringe at the disparity. Miscommunication ensues.

Top Down and Bottom Up

Measuring marketing starts with the Big Picture long before you get to the Big Data. Use survey techniques and market research to find out how your product and organization are faring on things like awareness, brand attribute recognition and affinity. Don’t forget to ask about purchase intent. I know and love Rolls Royce but have no intention of dropping a quarter of a million dollars on one.

Next: Marketing Mix Modeling. Your marketing team has probably already been building models to see how shifting large sums of money from one communication channel bucket to the other might influence sales. Get to know these people. Work with them. You have the same goals.

Finally: It’s data time! Dive into the wonderful, granular data that comes bubbling up out of the digital world.

Become a Data Detective

Curiosity is your best friend.

The most exciting phrase that heralds new discoveries,
is not Eureka! (I found it) but: Hmmm, that’s funny
– Isaac Asimov

If you’re good at formulating intriguing questions, then you are in the right profession as a digital analyst.

If you enjoy contemplating anomalies, slicing an audience into behavioral segments, and – at the same time – can be aware of and evade cognitive bias and address the confusion between correlation and causation, then you are in the right profession as a digital analyst.

Delivering the News

This last step trips up even the best and the brightest. Learning how to communicate your findings verbally, visually and in reports is central to proving the value of your data and curiosity.

Yes, you need clean data, the best technology you can get your hands on and the creativity of the data detective. But if you can’t convince others of the business value of the insights you have gleaned from the data, you are just another tree, falling in the forest when nobody was there.

Practice delivering presentations in front of the mirror. Join Toastmasters. Take every opportunity you can to get in front of an audience even if it scares the bejeebers out of you.

Once the rest of your organization realizes that you have tapped into a source of information that can yield huge benefits and they know that they’ll be able to reach their goals faster, better, cheaper when they ask you to present your findings, you will be indispensable to the marketing department.

Next Step

Your very next step is to learn from others and there’s no place like that than the eMetrics Summit, which has been bringing indispensable people together since 2002.

By: Jim Sterne

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