Marketing Analytics: The Key to Understanding Customer Behavior

by Jenna Sindle

“Without data analytics, companies are blind and deaf, wandering out onto the Web like deer on a freeway.”

These telling words from author and marketing and business guru, Geoffrey Moore, resonate the importance and power of data analytics in today’s highly competitive marketing environment.

This month on Modern Marketing Toady, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at the value of marketing analytics. We’ll be gathering insights from industry experts on tips and best practices for how modern marketers can get—and stay—ahead of the pack by gathering and analyzing their own analytics.

In the following Q&A, which originally appeared on Digital Marketing Remix,  the Remix talks with Sheryl Pattek, VP-principal analyst at Forrester Research, about how CMOs should be adapting to the rising importance of customer data-driven digital marketing (which show no signs of slowing down.)

Digital Marketing Remix:
So there’s a thesis that argues big data will make the marketing department increasingly important because of their knowledge of the customer. The thesis holds that this concentration of customer knowledge in the marketing department will transform business such that so that CMOs will be front and center in the next crop of CEOs.

Sheryl Pattek:
I believe that CMOs need to move away from thinking about the concept of big data and start putting a strategy in place to use data. Specifically, define how they are going to collect, integrate, analyze, and then use the data they are collecting. Many of the CMOs I talk to have so much data they don’t know what to do with it and how to start the process.

Digital Marketing Remix:
What are you advising CMOs to start first with? What first step should they take?

Pattek:
It’s important that CMOs start with the data they have, derive an insight from the data and then take action of what they have learned. Start with something that’s pretty obvious in your business that could have an impact. For example, CMOs balance new customer acquisition with using data to expose opportunities in your existing customer base. For example, examine your data to see if the length of relationship with your customer impacts your ability to retain them. What are the characteristics of customers that growth their business with you versus those that don’t. Is there a propensity to grow in some segments more likely than others? Then, take the insights gain from analysis like this to develop your retention plans and programs.

Digital Marketing Remix:
What are you seeing among the companies you talk with about bringing together marketing and IT under a single executive? Motorola Solutions, for instance, has given CMO Eduardo Conrado control of IT as well.

Pattek:
Eduardo Conrado’s case is somewhat unique due to his marketing and technology skill set and the Motorola business situation. In the latest research we published, we do see CMOs and CIOs working closely together, co-locating their teams, rotating assignments between the two groups and developing common goals and metrics to drive collaboration.

Digital Marketing Remix:
What do you make of the theory that the next round of CEOs will have a lot of CMOs and it may be more than ever in the past? Do you think there’s validity in that or not?

Pattek:
CMOs definitely aspire to a broader business role. When I talk to CMOs, I encouraged them to find the operational experiences today that prepare them to achieve this aspiration and become a CEO or a COO. In addition, CMOs are on the cusp of exerting influence beyond the C-Suite. Corporate boards are starting to realize that they need to understand customer behavior, digital channels and pending disruption more than they do today. And, they know that the traditional people sitting on boards really don’t have that experience to kind of provide guidance to companies today. But, today’s CMOs do.