What It Takes To Become a Data-Driven Marketer


data-driven-marketerSo, you think you’re a data-driven marketer. Or perhaps you aspire to be one, but are convinced that data-driven marketers have unattainable analytics skills. In fact, being data-driven is simply a way of thinking. Data-driven marketers embrace the rigors required to move from talking about data to using it, extensively, to get more from their marketing.

One significant benefit of data-driven marketing? Succeeding at digital transformation—an outcome that is essential to many CEOs. According to a recent Forrester Research report, about 30 percent of CEOs polled are planning to fire their CMOs in 2017 for lacking the blended skill set needed “to pull off digital business transformation.” The report recommends that chief marketers “develop their art and science acumen to survive.”

Doing so is eminently attainable. There are proficiencies many marketers already have that they can use to cultivate their data-driven marketing mindset—and in the process, ensure success at digital transformation. Here are five:


Marketers need to see links between seemingly unrelated notions; to uncover anomalies or commonalities that represent an opportunity. Creativity is vital to this. In today’s digital world, customers are always on and there is a continuous flow of information across an ever-growing array of channels. Marketers able to see patterns and trends in customers’ behavior across these channels will uncover unexpected and valuable insights. Access to the right data—for example, feeds that track customer behavior across channels—can help marketers think more creatively.

Customer focus

Customers expect real-time relevance no matter what channel they’re in. So, marketers need to deliver relevant offers and communications, in any channel, at a customer’s moment of need. Journey mapping is one way to achieve this. Drafting customer journey maps across the entire lifecycle can help marketers understand customers’ motivations and intentions and, as a result, help them make recommendations relevant to where customers are in their journey.


Marketers need to be comfortable with risk taking to be innovative. In this time of digital transformation, however, risk-averse marketers can feel especially challenged due to the myriad communications options available. One way to get comfortable taking the risks needed for innovation and digital transformation is to structure marketing operations and programs to include testing and optimization. This approach enables marketing teams to tweak for optimization over time, and makes innovation more about systems thinking than risk taking.

Decision making

Marketers tend to make strategic decisions using a combination of analysis and judgment. Today’s overabundance of channels and data make judgment harder. Plus, customers’ outsized expectations require that marketers use technology to help respond in the moment with communications that are relevant to each customer individually. As part of their digital transformation, marketers can use advanced customer data analytics to automate select decisions at the point of customer contact for specific campaigns, and then monitor what the technology is doing.

Results orientation

Marketers need to be more focused on results than ever before. Along with revenue growth, marketers need to take actions that increase profitability, reduce costs, and deliver customer value at the point of interaction. Two data sources—customer engagement and testing—especially allow marketers not only to better understand their customers, but also to better measure marketing performance. As a result, data marketers can be more bottom-line oriented as they consider their impact on customers and the value their company is creating for them.

Marketers who focus on these five competencies will build their data-driven marketing muscles. They’re also the ones who can best harness data to enable the digital transformation that today’s CEOs expect and the market requires.

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