Trends in MarTech: Analytics – What Stops Marketers From Being Truly Data-Driven?

April 4th, 2016


Martech trends 2016

This year’s MarTech Conference was abuzz with talk about how to enable agile marketing. The short answer? With data. Marketing thought leaders and exhibiting vendors debated what it means to be a data-driven marketer–what type of data helps your marketing strategy, what too much data looks like, and how marketers can use technology to more effectively manage and operationalize data insights.

The Marketer’s Data Dilemma

One group of vendors, in particular, evangelized the importance of real-time data, comprehensive cross-channel dashboards, ROI attribution, and actionable insights made accessible to Marketing without intervention from the data scientists.

BrightFunnelBizibleBeckonDatoramaAllocadiaOrigami LogicImpact Radius, and Full Circle Insights fit into a subset of Marketing Analytics software that’s specifically concerned with putting BI-style data insights into the hands of marketers, so that the Marketing department can more quickly and intelligently (re)allocate resources to achieve their own goals as well as the bottom-line goals of the business at large. Note that some of these products focus on B2C, while others focus on B2B; some are designed to handle enterprise loads, while others stress usability and fast time-to-value for SMBs. There is not yet consensus around what this subset of Marketing Analytics should be called. Tools have been described as Marketing Attribution, ROI Analytics, Marketing Signal Management, Marketing Revenue Intelligence, Marketing Dashboards, Funnel Analytics, Marketing Intelligence, or Marketing Performance Management (MPM).

These vendors say they are solving a longstanding problem in Marketing: how can we efficiently measure and empirically improve what has long been seen as an impressionistic, creative discipline? BI tools can measure marketing programs, but they are so complex that most marketers can’t manage the data on their own, and it takes a while for analysts to organize the data and deliver insights; these inefficiencies hinder an agile Marketing strategy. In-channel reporting features have taken on the cause, but according to MPM vendors those solutions also fall short at the strategic/management level, since they don’t allow marketers to coordinate their distributed efforts.

Mayur Gupta, Head of Digital at Healthgrades and expert in MarTech, explained that this problem has been relatively neglected up until now, and that attribution and DMP vendors are only just starting to solve marketers’ real business problems with integrated data and cross-channel views:

 “The one area which has been lacking and is now starting to get a lot of attention is what I call data convergence. A fundamental gap exists as a symptom of our massively fragmented ecosystem, which is fragmented at all levels. There is organizational fragmentation—between Marketing, Sales, IT, etc. and their various technologies—and there is skill fragmentation—the data scientist doesn’t understand marketing; the marketer may not understand technology or data. There is also data fragmentation, so one mom is perceived as 20 different moms because she’s engaging on 20 different channels, 20 different devices. We all talk about a 360-degree view, or a universal view, but nobody has it; our understanding of the consumer is limited and isolated. But we have seen significant evolution. The very obvious vacuums that we’ve had—like on the data platforms side and on the attribution side—are getting filled. The bar is getting higher. Increasingly, the focus is on applying technical and analytic capabilities, leveraging them to help marketers grow the business. As a marketer, how do I solve the market share problem? How do I change consumer behavior? How do I drive trials? How do I maximize the customer’s lifetime value? We are still very early stages of applying these technologies to marketers’ business needs, with data, with channel agnostic planning, to deliver human experiences that are relevant, that will drive participation, and will drive business growth.”

Therefore, vendors are increasingly trying to provide deep, timely analysis that spans across multiple channels, and ties results to Marketing spend. They discussed several key trends in market demand and product development, explaining how each development will help marketers make good on their aspirations of being data-driven.

Trends in Marketing Analytics

1. Marketers need to monitor their efforts from an ROI standpoint

Attribution—tying revenue to specific causes and activities—is becoming more and more important, especially as budgets get tighter. Marketing analytics software is enabling more sophisticated ROI calculations for campaigns, individual pieces of content, etc. Vendors say this intelligence is key to data-driven marketing, and making Marketing a productive, dynamic contributor to the business bottom line.

“At this conference, and in the market in general, we’re hearing a lot of talk about how marketers can become more efficient, how we can really understand what we’re doing and enable our organization to be better. There’s a lot of noise out there in MarTech. I think we as marketers need to take a step back and look closely at where we are placing our bets, where we are literally investing our time and effort.”

Sam Melnick, Director, Customer & Marketing Insights at Allocadia

“I think there’s a lot of misinformation about what it is to be data-driven. The problem is right now that most people will still use something like lead source (or ‘first touch’) to attribute revenue, but that’s an incomplete picture; you’re missing at least 80% of all Marketing activities that would be relevant for that account. BrightFunnel connects all of your marketing efforts–whether they’re tradeshows or email campaigns or digital ads–to revenue, and when they are connected to revenue you can make better decisions. For example, when it comes time to make a decision about whether I should sponsor MarTech or buy $10K in LinkedIn ads, I need to base that decision on a real, true sense of ROI. Multi-touch attribution will help justify my marketing budget to leadership, and also help me make data-driven decisions about where I invest time and money. Honestly, it’s shocking that more marketers don’t do multi-touch attribution yet.”

Damon Waldron, Director of Demand Generation at BrightFunnel

“CMOs are under an enormous amount of pressure right now. The board wants to know, since they’re investing an enormous amount of money in marketing–what are they getting back as a result? Particularly as Sales becomes a closer and closer partner, with ABM tactics on the rise, companies are building Marketing and Sales efforts together around revenue. Paid search engine marketers have a similar interest. They want to drill down to see which key terms were beneficial for them, to know where they should invest money in the future. It also helps them highlight to the company that they’re bringing in revenue. Likewise, the folks who are running Marketing Automation are looking for ways to show how effective their campaigns are in their entirety, and how they contribute to the bottom line. We provide them with an additional layer of visibility, speaking the revenue language that their bosses and counterparts want to hear more about.”

Jason Tillman, Sr. Product Marketing Manager at Bizible

2. Enter: omni-channel tracking, with one dashboard to rule them all

Vendors also talked about the importance of having a comprehensive view of Marketing activities, for high-level strategic planning about where to invest (or divest). Most of the solutions in this area center around dashboards that provide cross-channel often called “omnichannel” tracking. They combine online and offline channels, as well as different types of intelligence from very different sources (competitive metrics, campaign metrics, content engagement metrics, keyword metrics, etc).

“We’re trying to help marketers manage and use their data more effectively for better results. Beckon has a data brain and a marketing soul. We created an omnichannel system of record that manages data coming in from all of the different Marketing feeds. We’re typically pulling together 10-20 channels, including the social stack, web analytics, email campaign manager, one or two agency reports about TV, paid search, paid display, sales data, NPS, brand awareness studies, etc. Today, most of the data we process is coming out of offline channels, because that’s still where a majority of spend is, especially in B2C marketing. That is changing, though. We expect them to be an even 50/50 soon.”

Kevin Dodson, VP of Marketing & Data Strategy at Beckon

“We’re building out our dashboard capability even more. The whole marketing organization uses us, from the head of Demand Gen to Marketing Ops, the CMO, Field Marketing, Content Marketing, and Digital. By looking at the big picture, we help them answer the question: is Marketing (with a capital M) working?”

Damon Waldron, Director of Demand Generation at BrightFunnel

“If you set up a Marketing plan and budget at the beginning of the year and you just plan on executing it, that’s very much like what the Waterfall methodology is to Development. We’re helping companies move to a much more quick, nimble approach. Bizible provides an incredible amount of visibility into what you’re doing and how successful each effort is, so that you can pivot very quickly. For example, if you invest in search terms that you initially thought were fantastic, but they turn out to be not so great, or there are changes in the industry and your positioning, you need to be able to fine-tune those terms. Bizible allows you to find out how effective your programs are and how much revenue they’re generating all in one place, rather than having to search through a bunch of different dashboards.”

Jason Tillman, Sr. Product Marketing Manager at Bizible

“Marketing performance management centers around planning, the investment, and measuring the return on investment. We’re focused there, primarily on the investment portion. Allocadia helps companies understand where they’re spending across different channels and activities, across the buyer’s journey, and across CMO objectives. Then we’re also bringing in results data from other systems like Salesforce or Marketo to help people get a better view of whether they’re hitting their goals and how their performance actually is. MPM goes beyond just an attribution or measurement metrics. It’s marketing operations, and really everything the CMO is trying to do behind the scenes.”

Sam Melnick, Director, Customer & Marketing Insights at Allocadia

3. Agile, data-driven marketing requires accurate data that is up to date

In order for a marketing strategy to be agile and responsive, marketers must have access to dynamic, high quality data that they can base decisions around. The notion of “real-time” data was on almost every vendor’s mind, although what this means in practice (whether it’s a live feed, or more often, updated daily) differs from product to product. Vendors said that in some cases, how often data gets refreshed depends on the Marketing user and type of campaign.

“[Marketers need] real-time data. If you’re waiting weeks and months to get one view of your data, whether that be a consumer journey or an attribution model to render, there’s a lot of stuff that’s happened between when you collected that data and when you get to see it. So that real-time data and being able to see the insights today and make decisions today is super important.”

Marilyn Valace, Regional Director at Impact Radius

“With the number of massively distributed touchpoints marketers today have, velocity becomes challenging. The trouble with post-mortem campaign stats is that they don’t allow marketers to react quickly enough. Origami Logic updates data daily so that marketers can do ‘in-flight’ campaign management. Data refresh, harvesting, and validation are built into the platform.”

Steven Wastie, CMO at Origami Logic

“To do agile marketing, you need what we call ‘marketer-ready data,’ which is cleansed and normalized and displayed in self-serve dashboards and report cards. Beckon dashboards have daily feeds, so that marketer-ready data is fresh and accurate.”

Kevin Dodson, VP of Marketing & Data Strategy at Beckon

“We compare your plan to how your results are aligning to strategic objectives; that tracking is important. Sometimes people say that budgeting is good enough. We don’t do ‘good enough.’ We think it’s crucial to have actual finance data translated into marketing language. That’s key, because if you want to have a conversation with the CFO or the CEO, if you come with data that may or may not be accurate, or may be somewhat accurate, that doesn’t work, particularly with the CFO. So bringing in that actual investment data, and being able to have a confident, cognizant conversation is something that a lot of our clients get value from.”

Sam Melnick, Director, Customer & Marketing Insights at Allocadia

4. Advanced analytics paired with tools for visualization and execution are making insights actionable

The lesson for Marketing from BI was that data alone is insufficient—marketers also need to be able to make sense of the data, and take action to make changes to their programs in context. Things like predictive analytics, visualizations, planning tools, and “control centers” or campaign hubs will allow Marketers to understand insights and take relevant actions even more quickly, bringing them closer to truly data-driven, agile marketing.

“These technologies are moving at a different pace and with a different approach than BI queries. The data needs to be consumable for executors, the marketers who are actually going to take action and adjust their campaigns.”

Steven Wastie, CMO at Origami Logic

“The other big question in marketing intelligence and analytics is, how do you take data from all of your different channels and use it to do a number of different things? To address this, Beckon developed omnichannel insights for action. We have automated data ingestion, the centralized Marketing Hub, and the Marketing knowledge base. All of these pieces take the data out of the silo and cleanse it and make it very blendable, and then give marketers visualization tools for automated reporting, self-service reporting, campaign optimization, campaign planning, and advanced analytics. It’s a suite of solutions that brings together data in context of the Marketing plan.”

Kevin Dodson, VP of Marketing & Data Strategy at Beckon

“Predictive media spend-type models are also a huge trend, where we’ve been collecting all of this data for so long, and I feel like we’re finally getting the tools as a marketing industry – whether it be the algorithmic modeling, or whether it be machine learning – to better utilize that data, so that now people can better predict and forecast their marketing budgets and how they’re going to spend that budget and where.”

Marilyn Valace, Regional Director at Impact Radius

If you’re interested in how developments in analytics and cross-channel campaign management are affecting marketing automation, check out the Trends section of our 2016 Buyer’s Guide to Marketing Automation. For more information about other trends in MarTech, check out our article on Video Marketing. Or, to find out more about other types of marketing analytics software, explore our dynamic TrustMap and read the full category description here.