4 steps to creating a data-driven marketing team

Neil Pursey

A new buzzword has found its way into a marketing professional’s vocabulary. It's called "marketing operations". It's been floating around the web for the past year or two but hasn't really made it into mainstream marketing conversations. Not being aware of the term at the time, a component of marketing operations is what I’ve subconsciously been doing for the past few years but through the lens of data. So let’s call it “Data-driven Marketing Operations”.

First, we need to understand what drives brand growth. Byron Sharp, the author of “How Brands Grow” points to physical and mental availability of brands being the two fundamental elements that drive growth. However, I’d like to add a third, Innovation. Understanding consumer needs and the culture of today will improve your ability to predict the future trends. That can come through in product, services and the messaging the brand uses. Twitter’s research of billions of tweets over a 2 year period shows a +73% correlation between cultural relevance and brand revenue.

Tip: A company’s purpose will need to be the backbone that will help drive decision making in innovation. Your purpose is the north star. Jumping on every trend could also confuse your audience and do more brand damage, so be very clear on purpose if you want to pursue innovation.

Step 1: Get a good foundational understanding of how brands grow

At Measurebyte we measure the performance of 3 pillars that will drive revenue.

  1. Acquisition (physical availability)
  2. Brand Salience (mental availability)
  3. Innovation

In general, the order mentioned above is representative of the marketing maturity within the company.

If these words are new to you, let’s first define what they mean:

Physical availability

It refers to how easy it is for category buyers to find and buy your brand, and this availability is a product of Presence, Prominence and Relevance. Presence refers to being present for category buyers in a broad range of buying situations.

Mental availability 

It is the propensity for the brand to be thought of in a buying situation. For this to happen, category buyers must first be exposed to your brand in a way that encodes your brand to memory such that a buying situation will cue retrieval. For this you need to make your brand memorable and distinctive, and build associations between your brand with the reasons and occasions for category purchase.

Every company has some level of physical availability, whether it’s in-store or online - assuming of course that they have revenue coming in. 

As the company grows and your marketing approach matures, you will need to embed the right metrics to measure the effectiveness of each pillar. Aligning the right metrics to leadership levels is one of the most important things you can do, which leads me to the next step...

Step 2: Define the metrics that matter to leadership

A critical step to being data-driven is to now align your leadership on the metrics that matter to them. Quite often we see though that the metrics that they think are important to them aren’t aligned to the previous step. So if you can’t agree in step 1, then step 2 is going to get frustrating for you and all parties involved. 

... And before any data visualisation gets presented to leadership. These impact metrics need to be discussed and agreed upon.

Tip: these impact metrics also need to be aligned to the individual's performance KPIs. We need to understand what’s important to the stakeholders, the reality is that salary bonuses always get the attention of staff. So if you want to ensure you get the best out of your staff, the impact metrics need to align to their KPIs. By doing this, the impact metrics will add further value and relevance back to the organisation and to the individuals.

Step 3: Set realistic targets and benchmarks

Every decision maker wants to know what good looks like. It always surprises me how often I don’t see targets in reporting. The reason is simple though... The person who signs it off is going to be held accountable for reaching those targets and if they don’t achieve them, then there goes their bonus. So organisations will choose softer, less quantifiable targets - everyone is happy, right? 

Wrong, over the long-term it leaves people frustrated because it creates fog and confusion. Again, people are motivated by Purpose + Profit. If these can’t be measured and benchmarked, then your ambitious, star players will leave because they are not growing. To replace these types of people is an expensive process.   

The sooner a team can commit to targets, the sooner they’ll get better at setting them and in the not too distant future it will bring direction and purpose back to their day-to-day work life.

Step 4: Introduce OKRs into your teams

This is where the rubber hits the road. Even if you’ve got a rock solid foundation built from the previous steps, if you don’t get this step right, this is the point at which data projects fail (a little warning.. it’s a known fact that over 80% of data projects fail.. yikes!).  

At this stage of your journey most of your marketing team and the c-suite will be excited by the prospect of now seeing data in real-time and the ability to discover insights which will result in higher profitability, revenue and drive purpose for the business. The challenge you’ll now have is breaking down old habits and replacing them with new ones. The awareness of this is crucial. More recent studies show that it takes 66 days to form a new habit. I love this approach when implementing OKRs. 

Traditionalists of OKRs will say that they need to run every quarter. I agree with the thinking from a business perspective but humans will need to increase their cadence so frequency of engagements and objective setting is mission critical. So with the 66 day habit forming framework in mind, we always increase the objective setting frequency to monthly and run weekly key results sessions to ensure targets are met, ensuring that the ways of working (habits) becomes routine and entrenched across the individuals and team/s. 

The first quarter is critical. Depending on how successful it is, you can then gauge whether or not to stick to a monthly cadence or to push out to every quarter.

Resource: If you want to research more about OKRs, the best resource is the website and I’d highly recommend reading the book Measure What Matters

Key considerations

All your data is underpinned by a data pipeline that is optimised and managed correctly to ensure data is accurate. This is important if you want to maintain the integrity of the project and your team/s. If the data pipeline is the set foundation from which you build on, then the naming conventions is the cement still in powder format. If your naming conventions are not standardised and poorly structured, then you have “mud” instead of hardened concrete.  

Tip: Like they say: rubbish in, rubbish out. You will need a smart, detailed analyst to build (a template) and QA naming conventions (weekly or monthly - depending on the frequency of new campaigns). SO, hire someone or outsource to a company that has this template developed and stress tested across multiple campaigns. From experience there is never a perfect naming convention template for marketing campaigns. It’s a give and take of what fits well for the scenario you’re in.

From a c-suite perspective, key leaders in the business will need to know what level their marketing maturity is at and what resources will be needed to get them closer to being data-driven. Questions they’ll be asking...

CEO - what additional revenue will be generated from these decisions?

CFO - what is the budget needed and how will this increase efficiencies and decrease costs elsewhere?

COO - what are the operational resources needed?

CSO - is the data strategy aligned to the overarching company strategy?

CTO - what technology is needed to support the staff?

CDO - how will the data be managed in line with our data governance?

CMO - how will we prove marketing effectiveness? How do we measure impact?

.. And what can be outsourced vs brought in house? And most importantly, who are the people / partners who are going to take you over the line? Ideas get us excited but they need implementation to bring value back to the business…

The Measurebyte difference

There are 3 core areas we focus on. 1) Team Alignment, 2) Target Setting and 3) Data Automation. We want our clients to do less work managing their OKRs so they can spend more time on their daily activities, ensuring that they achieve their desired key results. Measurebyte automates their clients impact metrics (key data points) and automates the status of the OKR (red, amber or green). This empowers leadership, decreasing stress levels and giving them peace of mind that the objectives are on track. If they see red or amber, they know what to do and how to fix it, because they now have the data in real-time to identify the challenges and shortcomings. 

I leave you with this: People + Process > Data + Tech