How to Foster a Data-Driven Marketing Culture

It is fair to say that data is the new goldmine of our generation. The insights we’re able to pull from practically anything or anywhere are almost endless. But with so many points of information it can be tough to single out what really needs to be measured and why. For many marketing leaders, the answer is almost always ‘to see how we performed’, which in part is a very valuable metric to have. But just having the binary view of what worked and what didn’t is limiting yourself to the possibilities that can arise if you center your team’s strategy and culture around that data. We spoke with several CMOs, most notably with Tamir Sigal of Quadient during our last webinar, about the impact data has had for their team’s culture and overall marketer’s experience. 

1) Justify additional investment

To begin this process, marketing teams should consider the difference between an expense and making an investment. An expense is anything that costs you money, but an investment is much more than that. There’s a lot more weight and importance that can be assigned to an investment. You would invest in your headcount, your tools, and enablement. When you begin to look at how your budget is invested versus the natural expenses, you begin to peel back the layers of what you’re looking to achieve. 

Unfortunately, having everyone bought into your investments isn’t the easiest thing to do. You could be heading in a direction that certain stakeholders will disagree with. A common scenario we’ve encountered is when a marketing leader wants to switch gears and try to wean down on their team’s technology spend. With so many vendors out there, it can be easy to build a stack of tools that don’t actually help drive revenue. Going to your CFO and telling them that you’re shifting funds away from technology and investing elsewhere, might not go well if you don’t have the right context for the decision. What you need is the right data.

Having established a data culture where you can link all your investments to a particular goal or business objective is the best solution to justify these kinds of changes. It’s one thing to simply ask for more money or to shift money haphazardly. But with the right information backing your argument, you can do your team a service by demonstrating potential financial impact. When you center your strategy around data your decisions are no longer seen as ‘just another expense from marketing’ but rather as justifiable investments that will help the entire organization.

2) Empower your team

In addition to justifying program expenses and decisions, your data will support why you’ve built out your team the way you have. A good leader will have structured their headcount based on a strategy that is informed by data. In essence, you are saying that every member of your team is an essential part of driving strategic impact, which is why you are investing in each one of them. What they bring to the table in terms of skill sets, should be complementary to the gaps you need to fill and the plan you have set out.

Marketing leaders are finding that it’s more important than ever to have the right team culture and to promote a positive marketer’s experience. That can come in many forms. You can instill a positive work environment that celebrates all wins, big or small so that your team feels empowered in their decisions. By doing so, you are validating that they are the right people for the job at hand which gives them the confidence to make smart investments so they are more bought in on their programs and decisions. A good culture also entails automating time-consuming tasks to ensure that your team is focused on doing the work that they were brought on to do. When you create an amazing experience for your team, you will find that individuals will step up and that everyone will work better as a team overall. 

Additionally, your data can help your team have the confidence to fail and the freedom to innovate. Not every swing will be a home run, so being able to track insights on what programs are working and which aren’t is paramount. Have your team make small mistakes early so you can pivot and regroup from them. Failure is a part of life that shouldn’t be the end-all for your team. If they fail, good. Accept the loss, and grow from it. By doing so, you’re enabling them to be more confident in their decisions. This type of empowerment breeds innovation and accountability. 

3) Accountability 

With your team feeling justified in their actions and having a sense of belonging, they will develop a sense of accountability. With the right measurements in place, a marketing leader can encourage their team to be bold and treat their campaigns and investments as a personal business. They will become stewards of their budgets who begin to think beyond ‘how much did we spend’ or ‘how did that campaign perform’ and into ‘what will this investment generate in revenue’. 

Equipping your team with powerful insights will only add to their overall confidence. They will truly believe and see how they can contribute to the overall business. A marketing team can be accountable for all their ideas and investments by choosing to stringently track the right data. Once you’ve begun to really emphasize the importance of gathering information, you’ll have an easier time making decisions. Your team will be confident because they are empowered as mentioned earlier, but they will also feel accountable to each campaign by the dollar because of the insights you make important. 

The common misconception of data is that it is simply a series of numbers that are indicators of how you’re performing. Although that is true, looking at it in such a way is limiting your team’s true potential. When you harness the right insights, you can empower your team, justify your intentions and create a sense of accountability that will ultimately drive value for the entire company. These core pillars are more than attainable, all it takes is a confident leader who is willing to take the first step towards a data-driven culture.