How should I handle all my data?
In the past few years, marketers have gone from data-starved to drowning in bits and bytes. To handle
the expanding volume of data, next-generation analytics have moved from nice-to-have to need-to-have.
Some of the most sophisticated
marketers are finding the analytics
they deployed just three years ago are
outdated. Though traditional research
and solutions such as media mix or
experiments still have a role, they are
less able to deliver predictive insights
and decision support.
How do I begin organizing all
How then do I analyze it?
Get them all in one place. Many
companies keep data from different
marketing activities (e.g. digital vs.
offline, CRM, etc.) in multiple places.
Yet all these channels interact with
each other. Breaking down the silos
will enable you to look at your
business holistically and see the
bigger picture more accurately.
Stick to proven mathematics and
analytics. Bad math applied to big data
equals errors of huge scale, leading to
bad decisions that waste money and
squander potential revenue. There is
more than 50 years of history of top-
notch marketing analytics to allow you
to stand on the shoulders of the
brainiacs that have gone before you.
What insights should I look for?
Get a 360 degree-view. Done right,
big data can reveal insights that just
weren’t possible even a year ago. But
those insights rarely tell the whole
story. Most marketing budgets still
deploy through nonaddressable
media, so looking at only digital
attribution will tell a small (and likely
misleading) part of the story.
If you want the big picture from
your big data, combine the granular
data “bottom-up” components with
“top-down” influences such as
brand investment, sales activities,
trade funds, product innovation and
message execution, as well as macro
factors such as unemployment
rates, seasonality, gas prices and
political climate. See the full context
before letting the numbers lead you
Should I outsource my data
The nature of analytics is evolving
rapidly. Generalists can no longer keep
up with the specialized knowledge and
tools that push the frontier. Specialists
that stay on top of the issues and
opportunities are required.
Outsourcing to providers of
general-marketing services, as
capable as they may be in their core
areas, misses two opportunities. First,
Analytics 2.0 is about relying on
operationalizing the analytics, not just
getting information. The specialists
address the transformation and
organizational adoption required, not
just the techniques and the
PowerPoint. Second, it’s imperative to
know which capabilities to build in-
house and then supplement around
them. The specialists are seeking to
help you enable and improve
organizational capabilities, not just
contract to deliver them.
So you recommend beefing up
How is data reshaping the
my internal team?
Invest in talent that understands the
latest methods and technology to
give you the most accurate
information. And most important,
make sure your team can interpret
the outcomes and translate them into
credible and understandable actions
that can be communicated easily to
other key stakeholders.
Creativity and product innovation
are still critical to marketing success.
But we are entering an entirely new
era, with never-before-seen insights
and computing power that removes
significant risk from decision-making. It is a great opportunity for
CMOs to be ahead of this curve. It
allows them to definitively and
transparently create a
transformative bridge between
marketing and finance, based on the
ability to truly measure all revenue
drivers (the obvious and the not so
obvious). —WES NICHOLS
Wes Nichols is co-founder and CEO
of predictive analytics company
MarketShare. Learn more at