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Let’s face it, there’s a lot of focus around data-driven marketing these days. It’s clear that it is now a priority in the minds of most CMOs – as it should be. Responsible for the transformation of organizations, data is now front and center, and the incorporation of data-driven marketers has become a top priority. A survey by the Association of National Advertisers and McKinsey & Co. concluded that 96% of CMOs believe that making “data-informed decisions” is mission critical to their company’s performance and we can certainly understand why.

If creating data-driven marketing teams is the number one priority for CMOs, the natural question is how are CMOs going to achieve this goal?

Surprisingly enough, according to another McKinsey survey, almost half of the surveyed CMOs stated that they did not have the right business intelligence solutions in place to make data-driven decisions. Big Data is critical, but implementing the right plan to transform one’s organization does not need to be overwhelming. Follow these 5 steps to successfully unlock your team’s data potential and build a data-driven marketing organization:

Step 1: Hire the right people. CMOs can no longer rely solely on siloed knowledge in their organizations. They need to augment with plenty of data-oriented team members to help analyze data, marketing spend and results,. As organizations take the necessary steps to become more data-oriented, there will be very little benefit without employing the right personnel to extract and analyze what the data means for the organization. CMOs need to remember that it takes time to find the right personnel for an organization. While many rapidly growing organizations overlook this, finding the right, qualified team member should be a key focus area of any CMO.

Step 2: Get early wins. Instead of trying to transform the entire organizational structure at once, try to build momentum with early and somewhat easy wins. An example of an “easy” place to start is paid search advertising. Paid search advertising can be a gold mine of statistical consumer research. Starting here can help your team understand which marketing claims and messages resonate the most, and you can use this data to optimize your content strategy and creative strategy for all other channels.

Step 3: Expand your customer knowledge. Once you have made progress on hiring the correct people for your organization and scoring some initial wins, a great next step is to shift focus to understanding  the types of customers you value most. Combine the data sitting in your e-commerce engine, your CRM system and even your accounts receivables system to find out what commonalities there are between your these valued  customers. Marketers can then use this data to refine their advertising targeting or inform their sales team’s efforts.

Step 4: Integrate your technologies.  There are quite a few different technology platforms or point solutions available to the digital marketer – some of the most common are: marketing automation, CRM, buying, and marketing analytics/attribution systems. If you can integrate your systems, and most crucially, make sure the important data is centralized on one analytics platform, you can gain deep insights into how to optimize your advertising spend. With this knowledge, you can work to improve targeting and messaging inside your marketing programs. This will allow you to better understand and improve the role each part of your media mix plays in the marketing funnel.

Step 5: Measure and optimize. Just assembling the team and tools will not be enough – every good marketer needs to remember to measure and optimize. You need to put into place business processes that help to measure and analyze each step of your conversion funnel. The good news is that there are finally software solutions that make this possible – such as Impact Radius. With measurements in hand, CMOs can finally convey to the rest of the company how they are contributing to the bottom line, and much more importantly use the data to significantly expand the return on existing ad spend – ahead of your competition!

It is time to act on Big Data and marketing analytics. Start small, build momentum and then ramp up.

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