It’s no secret that brands and marketers who use data to fuel daily decisions are winning big. But building a data-driven marketing culture across even a small marketing org can be a journey. If you’re leading the charge at your organization, we salute you. And we hope these tips—gathered from years of working with global brands to successfully build and roll-out measurement initiatives—will help you along the way.
- Redefine Success. When envisioning what success looks like a week, a month, a year down the road, we typically think about reports, dashboards, charts, tools and technology. Good, solid technology and a toolkit of beautiful storytelling visualizations are good proof points of adoption. But remember that true success is showing and interacting with the reports in meetings. Asking questions, uncovering insights, and ultimately acting on the learnings will ultimately drive brand growth.
- Get executive buy-in. Regardless of your title or company size, you’ll need an executive sponsor and cross-functional stakeholders in your court. Round up leaders from marketing, finance, IT, and channel owners in one meeting from the outset. Articulate the vision, agree on a timeline, and identify who is responsible for each step in the journey—- from granting data access to building the initial report templates, training end users and engaging with users to get adoption.
- Start small. Look at the long-term vision and tease out a small project that you can use as a starting point. The goal is to get the team comfortable with data, get quick insights that you can act on, and then use this early success to build momentum for the larger rollout. Taking a crawl-walk-run approach also allows for learning, feedback and improvement along the way.
- Hand out maps and compasses. When rolling out the strategy to a larger team, start with a centralized measurement framework with reports and templates that show the prescribed way of looking at the business. Then give individuals and teams the ability to iterate and customize their own reports as they get comfortable looking at data, asking business questions, and mining for answers.
- Celebrate learning, not just high performance. You may be met with some fear and anxiety from both internal and external partners as you shine a light in dark corners. Encourage conversation and data exploration early, while there’s still time to impact performance. Show internal teams and agencies that there is no penalty for an underperforming tactic, channel, campaign, message, etc. Instead, reward people who identify both high and low performers and act quickly on learnings to improve performance.
- Empower teams to tell their own stories. We know that data alone doesn’t tell the story of marketing performance. Weather, seasonality, partner changes, and countless other factors impact our success. Give channel and program owners time to explore, understand, and annotate their reports before sharing them with the larger team or the C-suite. Publishing and acting on data without context can lead both inaccurate decisions and discourage adoption. When the data is telling a clear story, everybody wins.