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How Marketers Can Decipher the Data Deluge

Marketers are inundated with a flood of data about customer engagement based on device, time, channel — the list goes on. While marketers say that making data-driven decisions is a priority, many companies fail to center their overall strategy around data as a way to drive business growth.

Since everything from your car to your thermostat is now connected, data is being created faster than ever. In fact, according to a report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 90 percent of all data has been created in the past two years. The data holds huge opportunity for B2B marketers, but many encounter a roadblock when they learn that they need to clean and sort through the deluge of numbers in order to convert the information into valuable insights.

Marketers Need to Fill The Skills Gap Around Data Analysis
According to Patti Rutkin, associate director of digital CRM and direct marketing at Verizon, 91 percent of marketers use data to drive decisions, but 40 percent are unable to turn the data into actionable programs. It’s not that marketers lack the desire to learn from data’s insights, though. Simply put, there’s a skills gap among marketing teams and data analysis: more than three in 10 employees don’t have the right skills or training to use data, Monetate reports.

“The digital marketer’s job is moving from 'Mad Men' to 'Maths Men' involving savvy analytical skills and a keen understanding of attribution modeling," writes Mike Flynn, CEO of Fast Web Media, on The Drum. "Developing such skills can be a steep learning curve, but offers huge opportunities to maximize profits."

Without knowledge about data collection and analysis, marketing teams often fall prey to thinking they have a reliable database, when in reality it may be inadequate. In fact, 84 percent of B2B marketing databases are “barely functional,” while 88 percent of records lack basic data about the industry, company revenue and number of employees, according to the State of Marketing Data report by Netprospex.

Technology + IT Partnership = Data-Driven Strategy
Technology can help marketers see gaps in a database. “Data analytics is a place where I see technology playing a crucial role — simply because the size and complexity of ‘figuring out what you don’t know about what you don’t know you have’ requires some form of automation to tackle,” writes Laura Ramos, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, on the Forrester blog.

Marketing automation is just a start to deciphering the data, though. One way to bridge the gap further is for the CMO to form a partnership with the CIO to encourage the IT team to collect, store and analyze data and offer insights that marketers can put into action.

Data is valuable for marketers to be able to reach customers with relevant, timely messages. It also helps marketers identify key personas and understand their customers better.

“B2B CMOs need to think about big data, not as a data quality and technology problem but as the way to transition their teams from list managers and campaign number crunchers to custodians of customer insight,” writes Ramos.

While data can help marketers maximize their decision making, it also creates the need for a sound strategy to manage information. Check out our latest eBook, The Modern Marketing Essentials Guide to Content Marketing, for tips on how to maximize your content marketing data. 

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