If you work in marketing, it’s more than likely that you’ve remarked at some point that you are “drowning in data.” Case in point: a whole host of data-related jobs exist now that didn’t a decade ago. Data scientists, analysts, engineers and even architects.
While the roles vary, the main purpose of most of these jobs is to make sense of the huge volumes of data that businesses gather. As a marketer, that data is of huge significance but sometimes it can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack, or as Tom Hanks said in Saving Private Ryan, “like trying to find a needle in a stack of needles.”
A marketer interviewed as part of a data survey detailed all the must-have digital sources that marketing departments have to deal with.
“In my mind, you need web analytics tools, personalisation software and offline onboarding. Then you also have data on search and email. You probably have a tag management system and on the website side you probably have a CMS (content marketing system). And that would cover only the most basic needs of today’s marketer,” the individual commented.
Every one of those different systems generates information so it’s not finding the data that’s the problem: it’s about having a vision of what to do with it. Once a company starts sharing data – and has someone who actually understands it – then the results can be incredible.
Ford goes further
Back in 2005, Ford wanted to inspect how cohesive its global operations were. The buzzword of the noughties was definitely ‘synergy’, so Ford wanted to see what it could replicate around the world.
It’s important to note that a Ford car in Europe is a different beast to what Ford represents in the USA. In Europe, the best-selling Ford is the Focus – a mid-level hatchback that is efficient and fairly speedy. In the USA, Ford’s big seller is the F-series truck. Which is neither efficient nor speedy.
But there are still certain components you’d imagine every vehicle would share. So, Ford set about investigating. Gahl Berkooz was the Head of Data and Governance at Ford at the time and he said that, “people realised that there was very little commonality between the products and the different regions. We saw a huge opportunity to deliver savings and efficiency.”
Nobody had taken a look across the whole company to see what similarities there might be. When the job was done, it didn’t just find a few parts that it could order in bulk for the US and Europe. Instead, Ford developed a global parts index that listed every part that every vehicle needed – which saved the company €2 billion in costs.
The reason that money was saved was because any time an engineer came up with a new part for a Ford vehicle it was checked against the list of already-existing parts elsewhere in the world. The list of new parts (and by extension, expensive new manufacturing processes) dropped by over 90 percent.
Data is the secret juice
Data unlocks a whole host of solutions that you’d never expect. You might think that the secret Coca-Cola values most is the recipe for Coke. Okay, it probably is – but the secret to its US-based Minute Maid orange juice is pretty valuable too.
When you think about it, Coke is a pretty standardised product. It’s just a combination of sugar, water and carbonation. Maybe a few flavourings in there too, but that’s the basic mix.
With orange juice, there are lots more factors to consider. What if this season’s oranges taste slightly different than last season’s? Even the day the orange is picked has to be a factor too, right?
Using satellite imagery, data algorithms and even a juice pipeline, Coca-Cola invented a ‘Black Book’ which guarantees consistency – regardless of the vagaries of the orange season.
The guy who built the ‘Black Book’, Bob Cross, also invented the algorithm that Delta Airlines uses to maximise its revenue per mile flown so it’s safe to say he knows the power of data.
He explained to Bloomberg that developing the data to keep orange juice the same, “requires analysing up to one quintillion decision variables to consistently deliver the optimal blend, despite the whims of Mother Nature.”
So, how should you be using your data?
Every company is different, but you should take note of the approach used by Coca-Cola and Ford above. As a marketer, you need to focus on ways to bring your data sources together and think about the overall impact it can have.
For example, if you are creating really engaging content in the form of blogs that are performing well, you should create similar content – but you should also implement landing pages offering in-depth assets on the same topic so that you can capture the lead’s information and use them for future marketing.
There are loads of questions you should be asking of your marketing. Do you know what percentage of your sales come from your marketing efforts? Do you know how much money it costs to acquire a new lead? How much do you spend on Facebook, Google or LinkedIn to contact your target personas?
Your data is infinitely useful, but only if you know how to use it!
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