WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell once said ‘the future of advertising and marketing services belongs as much to Maths Men (and women) as it does to Mad Men.’ Data is now more important to decision making processes than the creative whims and gut instinct that marketers have relied on for so many years. ‘Expertise’ has, rightly or wrongly, become a positively quaint notion in every department in every industry. However, many CMOs have failed to keep up with the times.
In the annual Duke CMO Survey, 65% of respondents said that they lack the ability to really measure marketing impact accurately. The result of this is a frequent disconnect between CEO’s expectations for evidence to reinforce marketing hunches, and what CMOs end up providing them with. This is why marketers rarely feel respected at boardroom level, and why they often subsequently suffer when it comes to budgets.
According to a recent report compiled by Jon Cifuentes entitled The State of Marketing Analytics: Insights in the age of the customer, 45% of marketers still either don’t formally evaluate their analytics for quality and accuracy or, even worse, don’t know if they do or not. There is a clear inability with marketers to move with the times, and responsibility starts at the top.
A data-centric CMO will empower all marketers below them to use predictive analytics in a way that means teams produce campaigns that completely understand the target audience - where they buy, what price they’ll pay, and what imagery and tone appeals to them. The CMO is needed to ensure that no decisions are made without some degree of data evidence to reinforce them, it needs to be drilled in constantly. Without the integration of data analytics into the business strategy, marketing employees will often fail to understand the point of predictive analytics.
Marketers in this new environment have to be great consumers and interpreters of data to enable them to make the right calls. They need to re skill current employees to be better able to glean insights from data reports. For many organizations, this will mean implementing formal training interventions. They also need to look at changing the make-up of their teams, and changing the fundamental criteria that CMOs are looking for in the hiring process to put a greater onus on those who are highly numerate and technically minded - those with backgrounds in maths, engineering and sciences.
James Whatley, digital director at ad agency Ogilvy & Mather Advertising, acknowledged there is resistance to data-driven marketing among some creatives: ‘The digital education of the old guard, the creatives of yesterday, is a constant challenge, proving to them what the digitization of the industry can mean to the consumer and to their careers.’ CMOs need to get over this resistance, and eradicate it from their teams, if they are going to allow marketing analytics to flourish. CEOs can go all in buying the tools for marketing departments that pump out the flashest reports around a campaign that money can buy, but if no-one’s going to bother doing anything about them, they may as well be grinding them up and using them to make paper mache models of classic cars.