The CMO’s guide to building data-driven consumer connections

High-velocity data marketing promises real-time answers to consumer demands; but to keep those promises, marketers need essential trust in their data

The right insights are fundamental to building watertight marketing strategies. More than ever, organisations are operating with a data-down approach to develop long-term loyalty, advocacy and engagement. To secure their seat at the top table, CMOs need to acquire new tools and market insights both strategically and organically.

However, marketers are at risk of becoming inundated with information. As the volume and complexity of the data that they must respond to snowballs, CMOs are struggling to identify reliable insights and translate them into decisions. A 2022 report by GfK and CMO Council revealed that 91% of marketers acknowledge the importance of responding to insights at speed in their role, but 55% only have slight or moderate confidence in their data analytics and insights.

In the current economic climate, companies should be harnessing high-velocity data marketing, not shying away from it – and making sure their companies support the effort. “Marketing budgets are going to be scrutinised in the year ahead, so being able to demonstrate the value of marketing data and the decisions it informs is essential,” says Jutta Langer, vice president of consulting at GfK.

The accelerated pace of modern business leaves little room for second-guessing, and CMOs need to show their strength as data-driven leaders. To exceed consumer expectations, brands need to be sure that their data is highly relevant and optimised for quick decision-making. Langer continues: “If you don’t have the right data insights, you will find it hard to deliver a consistent customer experience and you’re more likely to miss out on opportunities because you don’t see the signals.” So how can CMOs ensure that they have the right timely data and solutions?

The first step is making data legible and available. Storing data for easy access can also be incredibly complicated, and companies are falling into the trap of pulling this information into silos that can’t talk to each other - a strategy that may be working now, but will not be fit for purpose in future as the load continues to increase. With many CMOs at a loss, GfK is seeing rising demand for its gfkconsult service. “We plough through the data and insights 24/7 and have a huge team of analytics experts who can give clients the confidence to build sound strategic plans and support their execution,” says Langer.

Actionable data lays the foundation for future-proof marketing strategies that can cope with the demands of modern consumers. First, businesses need to be more selective about their insight sources to make high-velocity data marketing sustainable. “What organisations need is just a handful of relevant data sources, plus tech to help democratise and visualise it, and then skilled people who can interpret it and convert it to real-world actions,” observes Gonzalo Garcia Villanueva, GfK’s chief marketing officer.

What organisations need is just a handful of relevant data sources, plus tech to help democratise and visualise it

According to Garcia Villanueva, optimising the speed at which data can be analysed and insights shared should be a top priority for CMOs. “When I’m looking at customer and market data and planning strategy, I want to know which campaigns and promotions are performing best and should be replicated - and where we need to stop investments right away,” he says. “If you want to really capitalise on timely opportunities or hedge risks, this exercise needs to happen every week. Otherwise, you’re leaving money on the table.” Nearly a quarter of top data marketing performers claimed to have real-time access to customer insights, compared to just 2% of the lowest performers. Garcia Villanueva believes that ‘always on’ data analytics are key to driving the best value from marketing insights and achieving sustainable brand growth – essential for CMOs seeking a stronger voice in the C-suite.

Capturing up-to-the-minute intelligence from the business, its consumers, and its competitors is achievable through external tools such as gfknewron. Garcia Villanueva explains: “When you have data that shows the true sales uplift of your promotions for Black Friday and other peak seasons, you can optimise marketing strategy and future promotions to drive sustainable growth and brand premium.”

To respond to insights at scale and pace, ease of use needs to be a priority. Organisations should be putting accessible structures in place that enable marketing teams to make tactical decisions quickly. But many can’t afford the luxury of waiting to build those systems internally.

Time is of the essence, and Garcia Villanueva urges other CMOs to be bolder in data strategy. “If you spot the right opportunity using data from a platform like gfknewron, you’ve paid for your technology costs for the next three years,” he says. CMOs who let their data do the work are better prepared to manage future disruptions, minimise losses, and tap into consumer purchasing habits to level up their strategies and hold that seat at the executive table.

Three data mistakes CMOs should avoid

To help put chief marketers on the right path with data, Garcia Villanueva cited several critical mistakes that can prevent CMOs from climbing the high-velocity data marketing curve.

Frequency is key

One pitfall that CMOs can fall into is not looking at data often enough. Garcia Villanueva cites the example of washing machines and fridges. “We don’t buy them very often – but if your fridge breaks and you need a new one, you’ll have a new one within 48 hours,” he says. “As a brand, if your messaging was off that week, then you’ve missed that opportunity and left money on
the table.”

When it comes to data, curate aggressively

The second concern is that CMOs are trying to process too much data. “You might have 100 or 200 potential data sources, but in reality, perhaps four of them matter,” Garcia Villanueva continues. Rather than trying to pull in more data, companies should redirect their focus to identifying the most important market insights and establish systems that will make that data easy to visualise and understand.

Democratising data breaks down barriers

A major roadblock for many CMOs is that data is not being democratised. “If you have the right people and the right partners, you can democratise that data more quickly,” CMOs should look to remove barriers to data sharing and decision-making in some areas, Garcia Villanueva adds: “I don’t wait for the market research team to show me data when I’m making decisions. I’m going to look at leads, see which campaigns are working best, and then make choices on what I need to replicate, or change.”

With these watch-outs in mind, CMOs can leverage carefully selected data and tools to keep securing loyal customers – and confirm their own roles as future-focused leaders and collaborators.

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