A new breed of CMO is emerging. A growing number of articles with titles such as “Seeking CMOs: Must Know Big Data and Digital Marketing,” “Marketers Upping the Ante on Big Data in 2013,” and “Marketing ROI in the Era of Big Data” identifies a job shift. Not only is big data in marketing changing job descriptions, but it’s changing the expected results.
With market forces creating a marketing shift from loyalty to influence, today’s marketers must now target audiences whose behaviors and preferences can be known and predicted with remarkable precision.
The interdisciplinary nature of the skills required for this new breed of marketing officers are demonstrated in the job opportunities. According to research conducted by Lizzy Wilkins, Data Scientist at Nina Hale, the educational requirements identified for recent job descriptions are quite diverse;
|computer science||operations research||business|
|mathematics||computational social sciences||administration|
|statistics||quantitative finance||applied mathematics|
The diversity sought in skills for these job opportunities reads like a Sudoku puzzle: computational algorithms, statistical methodologies, communicate findings, statistical techniques, collect data, refine data sources, SQL, Python, PHP, R, Matlab, SAS, Map, Hadoop, Hive, C, database knowledge, market positioning, data strategy, enterprise data strategy identification, machine learning, big data, data mining, user behavior, A/B testing, analytics, reporting and surveying … to name a few.
Nowhere was this diversity more apparent than at the recent Big Data conference hosted by MinneAnalytics at the Carlson School of Management at the University of MN. A review of the job titles of the over 850 attendees confirms the multidisciplinary nature of the work. That the presentations targeted many of the disciplines listed above, and then some, is but one indication that this is still an emerging practice receiving a lot of attention.
What is Big Data in Marketing?
So, what does it really mean? Within the context of marketing, what are we referring to when we say “Big Data?” Here too, the definition varies by business objectives, technology providers and end users.
Gartner defines it as a move away from the concept of a single enterprise data warehouse, replacing it with a multi-system approach that leverages content management, data warehouses, and data marts, that offers a more efficient, logical approach to business and customer intelligence. According to Dixon Jones, Marketing Director for Majestic SEO, its about the explosion in APIs that will create data that enables new products and creates new markets. Mark Simpson, President of Maxymiser defines it as the use of data that provides targeted individual experiences—at the right time—in order to respond to savvy consumers’ needs. Lizzy Wilkins at Nina Hale identifies it as a hacking of human behavior for purposes of delivering better business results.
No matter how it is defined, the goal in using big data is consistent. Rather than analyzing data in a vacuum from a certain marketing channel, such as social media or email marketing, enterprises will seek to cross-pollinate data across these silos to create a more holistic view of brand sentiment and customer demand within the market. They will start blending their reliance on transactional-based metrics like conversion rate, cost-per-action, and return on ad spend with a focus on the customer and customer lifetime value.
A consistent message heard at both the Big Data conference in Minneapolis as well as the recent eConsultancy Jump 2013 conference in NYC is that it’s not about “big data,” it’s about the “right data.” It’s about getting the right data to the right people at the right time so they can make the decisions necessary to get the quick wins. It’s about creating a measurement strategy, identifying the correct key performance indicators, integrating your datasets, properly analyzing the data and ultimately improving both prospect and customer interactions with your business.
The operative here is “properly analyze,” which brings us back to the new breed of CMOs. They will either have to possess these data analysis skills, or be sure that they have the wherewithal to hire the necessary team.
The Drivers Behind Big Data in Marketing
The primary drivers behind the trend in big data are social media and the emerging omni-channel; a form of multi-channel retailing that is concentrated on a more a seamless approach to the consumer experience through all available shopping channels.
With social media putting control of brands in the hands of the consumer, and the ability for those consumers to interact with those brands 24/7/365 across a multitude of marketing channels and devices, the consumer is now leaving a wealth of data “breadcrumbs.” Those breadcrumbs are providing valuable real-time insights into consumer behaviors that are as good as gold when it comes to building marketing strategies and campaigns.
Marketers are now faced with the task of analyzing the data and altering their marketing channels and strategies based on the intelligence within the data. They can no longer blindly follow the so-called current marketing trends. Marketers need to constantly test and analyze their marketing efforts, in the context of their specific key performance indicators and business objectives, as a means of identifying what is and isn’t working for them.
As John Wanamaker, pioneer of the department store was famous for saying “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” That was the industrial age. As the current technology age advances, it is only natural that insights gained from the technology. and more specifically the data, be leveraged into more advanced business intelligence. With the rise of social media and the omni-channel, the data being provided is about human behavior. If your company isn’t able to leverage that data into actionable business intelligence, then you are fighting a serious uphill battle.
As identified at the Big Data conference, the challenge for most companies is in finding the right talent to meet the market demands. Big employers such as Target and Medtronic are complaining that the students coming out of the schools aren’t properly trained and students are complaining they aren’t getting the education they need to meet the current marketing job requirements. As a result, marketing internships in big data analysis are in great supply and demand.
The challenge moving forward will be in both uniting the field as well as in getting the stake-holders the information they need when they need it. Those challenges are creating opportunities for the new breed of CMOs who can identify what they want to track, the best way to collect and store the data, and can then identify the business opportunities from within the data.
If your company is still relying on disparate data warehouses for consumer insights, not participating in social media, or simply looking at your web analytics to identify the number of visitors and the time spent on your website, then I would suggest you look to see if your CMO has the skills required to take your business to the next level.