Marketing today – easier or more difficult?


Marketing has evolved hugely during the last years. This we know. One of the main reasons is the digital revolution. This we also know. The digital revolution has opened up new doors and opportunities to know our customers much better than before, but at the same time consumers are much more demanding and there a bunch of new technologies, together with data, that need to be managed. So in a sense there is now much more we should know now than before. Has this made marketing easier or more difficult than before?

There are evidently still a number of challenges to manage. In this white paper you can find a more extensive description of the situation. However, I will venture on a shorter journey on how to tackle the challenges.

The name of the white paper is “Customer Intelligence in the Era of Data-driven Marketing”.

CI BloggThe first question that comes to my mind is: is this really the era of data driven marketing? There is certainly a huge amount of data out there that could, and should, be used when doing marketing. My feeling is, still, that most of the data goes unused. Or at least is used sub-optimally.


The Three Biggest Marketing Challenges Today

In order for any company to be successful in the field of marketing today there are three main issues that need to be addressed:

  • How can I know my customers better?
  • What should I tell my customers to keep them happy?
  • How do I balance my budgets to keep both my customers AND my management happy?

The short answer to all of the questions above would certainly be: analyze the heck out of the data you have and use what you learn in all interactions.

The longer answer you can read in the white paper mentioned above. It includes thoughts about marketing moving from Mad Men towards Math Men, because marketing professionals today need to understand the power of data and have a certain amount of analytical capabilities.

People, Process, Technology

Also, you probably need to do something about your people, processes, and technology. You will need a strategy that supports customer analytics at all relevant stages. Strategy first, always. Many people will frown at “data-driven”, “analytics”, and “statistics”. But they shouldn’t. Analytics doesn’t have to be excessively difficult and complex. There are modern tools that make analytics and data accessible to the analytically non-savvy. And if you implement a centralized platform that provides you with a complete customer view and functionality to manage all customer interactions regardless of channel from one location, you will quite quickly see the value data-driven marketing will bring you.

And now to some buzzwords

Real-time. As is with buzzwords there is a lot of confusion and many different views of what real-time really is. Some think it is equal to inbound marketing. Some think you only apply it to digital channels. The truth is real-time is much more than that. To quote the white paper: “It is about merging real-time data with events that happened on other channels from the same customer, to have the full behavioral context, recognize him or her as one and the same and know what the best actions will be”. Sweet.

Attribution modeling. “The use of advanced analytics to allocate proportional credit to each marketing touch point across all on- and offline channels, leading to a desired customer action”. In order to really know which actions in which channels drive customer behavior towards the desired goal you need to apply some serious analytics. This is where marketing attribution helps. It uses one or several techniques to answer which lever really works best.

Back then to the original question: has marketing become easier or more difficult than before the digital revolution? To be honest – who cares? It’s certainly demanding, fun, and the playing field continues to open up new opportunities to succeed or completely fail in impressing the consumer. Both are up for grabs, and my experience has it that far too many companies still fail.

As said, this was the short version of the truth about data-driven marketing. If you want to learn more, which you should, check out this white paper.


About Author

Tomas Estlander

Sr Industry Consultant

Tomas Estlander on Senior Business Advisor SAS Instituten pohjoismaisessa markkinoinnin osaamiskeskuksessa (Center of Excellence). Tomas Estlander is Senior Business Advisor for Customer Intelligence in SAS Institute Nordic Center of Excellence.

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