Businesses have long been convinced of the value of data, and marketing is no exception – as a discipline, it is rapidly becoming more data-driven. However, what is changing is how sophisticated marketing technology stacks are becoming, and how that is in turn influencing how marketing departments are structured, the required roles within them, and the overall data culture of a business.
Martech has evolved to the point that it makes extremely advanced and sophisticated data analytics accessible to a much larger audience. It levels the playing field and means smaller businesses can start competing near the level of much larger enterprises. Data science on a mass scale is no longer exclusive to Fortune 100 companies. This democratisation of skills and available technologies will have a significant impact on the future of marketing.
The current state of martech
Currently, the biggest challenge marketing departments are facing is one easily solved by technology: the amount of time and resources it takes to clean and combine marketing data. Recent research has found that 41 per cent of marketing departments still struggle with this, despite the prevalence of tools that automate data cleaning and integration.
Too many companies are bringing in highly qualified data analysts, only to waste their time with manual data cleaning and integration. This approach might work for large enterprise companies with extensive marketing budgets to burn, but small or mid-size businesses looking to scale up can’t afford to set a precedent of wasting resources that could be better spent elsewhere.
Being able to measure your marketing performance is not optional. It is a business necessity, one that CMOs still struggle to justify in the boardroom, with 40 per cent of marketers unable to demonstrate the business impact of marketing.
When we talk about getting insights from data, we assume that there’s a basic infrastructure for bringing data together and measuring the impact of marketing decisions. It’s a prerequisite to get marketing departments to the starting line of their data strategy. From here we can begin to extract meaningful insights and put them into practice. But despite optimism around how analytically advanced marketers believe they are, an astonishingly low number of marketing departments have actually reached this crucial first step. In fact, a recent survey found that 68 per cent of respondents who strongly identify as analytically mature still build routine marketing reports on spreadsheets, and 77 per cent have yet to achieve a single unified view of all their marketing data.
The amount of data for marketing teams and its complexity continues to grow – and it isn’t just limited to social media, SEO platforms, sales data or other customer touchpoints. Data for marketing teams can be anything from weather reports to traffic data or even census reports.
However, marketing professionals are currently too busy adding extra columns to their spreadsheets to embrace the tech that’s saving their competitors time and money, and improving data quality.
Leveling the playing field
If you’re not leveraging marketing data, you will lose out. Your competitors are already doing this.
You need to work off data-driven insights – spending days copying and pasting data into Excel in today’s market simply isn’t going to cut it.
In fact, I would go one step further and say that it is only companies that embrace martech that will remain viable businesses in the near future. Moreover, they can start knocking on the door of enterprise marketing forces.
Why? Because using martech to get these basics right opens the door to powerful analytical capabilities that provide powerful insights into how to improve your business. However, aligned with martech, there needs to be a cultural shift within the organisation that starts at the top.
Predictive analytics or AI are no longer just the playground of the enterprise titans. As martech evolves, these capabilities are becoming increasingly accessible to smaller players – and they know it too. Some 61 per cent of marketing departments say they aim to achieve some level of predictive analytical capability in 2022.
However, it’s worth pointing out that to achieve this level of foresight, companies cannot disregard the basics. Marketing departments planning to implement predictive analytics may be trying to run before they can walk. A worrying number of these marketers still don’t have a single source of truth, and many say they don’t trust their data.
The technology exists, and it’s flexible enough that mid-size and even small businesses can compete with the massive companies which have teams of business intelligence analysts poring through their data every day. Companies don’t need a complex, enterprise-like tech stack to do this anymore, but even if they do the option is always there.
This is one of the things Adverity does, but I’m not just trying to sell my own product. The point is that the ability to do this is now available to companies of pretty much any size and doing so greatly elevates their capacity to leverage useful information from their data.
The future of martech
You might have the greatest tech stack in the world, feeding you business-changing forecasts on your ad spending and delivering real-time performance data, but if this isn’t translating to actions then it’s useless.
The next decades will see data culture picking up momentum, as evolving technology continues to drive how people think about their data strategy. Tech will inevitably become more marketer-friendly, and at the same time marketers will become more data-savvy. First we change the technology, then the technology changes us.
All these changes – the accessibility to advanced analytics that martech provides – not only level the playing field between businesses of different sizes, they will also impact how marketing departments are structured, and even the overall culture of a business.
Data will become increasingly accessible to marketers. And in turn, this exposure, this democratisation of the data will see a rise in the need for more data-savvy marketers
In fact, we are already seeing marketers demand this, and the shouts will continue to get louder.
An era of data mobility
We are in the era of data mobility. Marketers need to acquire data and provide it to teams that require it. However, this is where the problems of the past now are removed. Martech allows marketers to not only get reports, but to activate the data in numerous platforms, bringing together all sources of data into one place to make better decisions.
Martech has leveled the playing field: insights are available in real time at a price point that marketers could only dream of even a decade ago. We are finally in a position where we can say that martech has finally caught up with the desires of marketers to be able to analyse, predict and find a single source of truth in one place in real time.
However, while the technology is now readily available, there is still work to be done. It is not a case of buying it and the insights will come. Teams still need to ensure that their data is accurate before layering more technology in place. Bad data gets bad results, but the opportunities are now there.
We have moved from hindsight to insight and are well on the way to foresight. Welcome to the era of data mobility.