In marrying art with science, marketers need to retool for the data age

Marketers need to retool and realign for the digital age

Consumers are now enjoying an unprecedented level of personalisation, which is resulting in raising the bar for brands’ interaction with them.

Now brands have more information about consumer preferences, channels they like, and information they are interested in for more relevant experiences according to Adele Sweetwood, senior vice president, global marketing, SAS Institute.

The increased channels and data available to marketers have led brands to initially invest into data analytics as, “analytics is the story-telling part of the data,” says Sweetwood.

“The field of marketing has changed significantly, there has always been some point of reporting and analytics in marketing, that’s not new, but there are more channels and data than ever, and the expectations are higher,” she adds.

The ‘always-on’ consumer has led the need for brands to always be on, leading to a need for data analytics to drive strategy, Sweetwood claims.

For the money being invested, the return on investment pressure is high, as brands look for impact on their pipeline or revenue according to Sweetwood.

“The great thing about marketing now and all these channels is that its creating information we can report on. We also have a lot more agility to change the activities, campaigns and efforts on a more regular basis,” says Sweetwood.

“The older way of marketing is a lot of pushing information out, waiting for something to happen, then make a change. Compared to now, I can deploy a social media or digital advertising or content syndication campaign, and within a day know whether things are working and what I can tweak and what I can change, our ability to deliver more results rapidly is there,” she adds.

Technology and data now allow marketers to track marketing impact across the board from lead generation to pipeline created to revenue won or loss, Sweetwood claims.

“The ROI is an on-going reporting that occurs, I can continue to improve these results because I use analytics to make sure that it is in a positive direction,” says Sweetwood.

“I see two sides, the reporting side is more rich when compared to the past, and there is an analytical perspective that is more predictive and proactive types of analysis to fine tune constantly,’ she adds.

Analytics have been cited as a way to improve revenue growth, with adtech and martech tools on the top of marketers’ wishlists.

Retooling the marketer

As the marketing tools turn digital, marketers too have to retool and realign themselves to this new age. This was a challenge that SAS Institute faced as well according to Sweetwood, as traditional components of marketing became complicated.

“We had the traditional components of a marketing team like email marketing, database, PR, that become more complicated when the channels came in, like the search team, display team, content team, all of a sudden there are many people going after the same segment. So the need to align objectives and strategies becomes that much greater,” says Sweetwood.

Thus her marketing team went through a significant transformation, evaluating the roles and what was expected of marketers today.

“We essentially took what was a database marketing type role and looked at up skilling them to be data visualisation or segmentation specialists, so that they can be more adept with the data and deliver behaviour-based information for targeting,” says Sweetwood.

“On the marketing side, we did a combination of things, we need to leverage specialisations, I need people who do search engine marketing to really know that space of search optimisation both from paid and organic perspective, which is critical in creating the right experiences and protecting those investments,” she adds.

Having a level of specialisation is not just to effectively work a silo, but for collaborating with other teams such as a go-to-market team according to Sweetwood.

“A person in a go-to-market lead role will leverage all the expertise of the people who know their channels and information, to deliver an integrated and comprehensive marketing effort, that would ultimately have a better experience and result, which means that everybody changes,” she says.

This requires change not just from marketers both from the brand as well, with efforts going towards training and development, Sweetwood stresses.

“You have to hire new and to fill some gaps you have to up skill, I am an advocate of marketers that take us into the future will have analytical perspectives that will be driven based on data and information for their decisions influenced by their intuition and creativity,” she adds.

Standardising globally and customising regionally

While marketers in Europe and North America face less of a challenge with a homogeneity of the markets there, marketers in Asia on the other hand deal with a fragmented market with each country or even city espousing their own cultural nuances.

For Sweetwood, the important thing is to build a framework and structure for the marketing team, from the practices to technology used, before customising for a region like Asia.

“We have to get it to a level of customisation in Asia, because of the cultures and countries. There are always tweaks, but there is an advantage to be had because we have been able to be consistent is when you start talking about digital, marketing sciences and analytics, the ability to leverage that structure globally and utilise those expertise from around the world and not just a particular location, the more impactful you can be not just from an operational standpoint, but also from learning and sharing experience from the customer,” she says.

“So many of SAS’ customers are global and the ability to design messaging and outreach in a very consistent way has a very high value,” Sweetwood adds.

Squinting at country-level data can yield insights via specific analysis, but Sweetwood notes that trending the data up would also reveal commonality in industries.

“That’s an important aspect of the analytical information and data, we rely on that to tell us the story and give us the information and trends, then we can make more intelligent decisions on at local, or regional level,” says Sweetwood.

“For example I have a marketing sciences organisation at a global scale, and at the regional level, that’s taking in the nuances in the way we are doing things and contributing to the bigger picture,” she adds.

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Benjamin Cher

Benjamin Cher is The Drum's APAC reporter, reporting on the interesting and quirky nuances of digital marketing and technology in the region. Based in Singapore, he has interviewed major brands such as Dell, Lenovo and IBM before, covering an extensive range of topics from cyber security to innovation. In his time at the drum, Benjamin has covered issues ranging from influencer marketing to data analytics to startups.

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