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Posted by Karen

December 17, 2013


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Data Marketing Challenges & Opportunities

We recently exhibited and presented at North America’s first DATA MARKETING Conference, held December 9 & 10, 2013 in Toronto. The conference provided a great opportunity to meet business leaders, network and exchange ideas on data-driven marketing. Our feedback revealed that attendees found the topics and discussions to be relevant, thought provoking and inspiring.


Peder Enhorning, Unilytics President, shared his expertise on Metrics that Drive Visualizations for Better Insights. Following the presentation, many attendees expressed their enthusiasm and appreciation for his presentation which was “not only insightful, but practical as well”. Peder’s presentation focused on two key areas.

Key Performance Indicators: How to identify the metrics that are worth measuring for your business. Peder demonstrated the KPI Karta, a formal methodology to derive Key Performance Indicators that are driven by business goals & objectives. It maps out how KPIs are arrived at and calculated which increases understanding by others and, therefore, adoption.


Data Visualization & Dashboards: How to build dashboards with meaningful, actionable insight. Peder described visualization techniques and design tips for displaying well-designed KPIs in dashboards that immediately inform how your organization is performing.


I wasn’t struck by any earth shattering revelations during the conference, but the sessions and discussions definitely reflected the foremost challenges associated with this new age of big data and data driven marketing. Industry experts provided inspiring insights from their experience and shared their vision of marketing and how to handle data.

Big Data is here to stay!Big-Data-vvv-e1387320910298

If nothing else, experts at the conference agreed that Big Data is not only here to stay, it will only get bigger. Given the vast and growing volume, variety and velocity of data, it is more important than ever to identify and measure the metrics that matter for your business. Easier said than done, right? That’s why Unilytics uses the KPI Karta, a foolproof process to ensure KPIs are driven by business goals & objectives.

Cross functional teams are a must! cross-functional-team-e1387321284452

A repeating theme throughout the conference was the necessity for cross functional teams. Greater collaboration among marketing, IT and data analysts is critical for data driven marketing. This means marketing needs to be more analytical and data scientists need to have stronger business acumen. The KPI Karta methodology encourages this kind of collaboration and bridges the communication gap between business, technology and analytics teams.

Data Scientists are sexy!   data-geek

Who would have predicted that data scientists would be considered the new “sexy”.  According to keynote speaker Jean-Paul Isson, Global VP BI & Predictive Analytics, Monster Worldwide, personal data is the new “oil” of the internet, so demand for data scientists and statisticians is expected to explode with a resulting surge in their value or “sex appeal”. In his presentation, Jean-Paul emphasized that deriving value from big data is one of the biggest challenges faced by businesses today. He expounded the following 7 Pillars for Successful Business Analytics as an advanced analytics solution to obtain big insight from big data.

  1. Business challenge – align analytics initiatives to the most salient problems your business is facing.
  2. Data foundation – must be strong in terms of reliability, validity and governance.
  3. Analytics implementation – it is crucial that analytics solutions are driven by business goals.
  4. Insights – transform data into insight.
  5. Communication – analysts must speak business language to communicate effectively to a broad group of stakeholders.
  6. Execution and measurement – insight derived from analytics must lead to action and provide guidance tracking the results of actions taken.
  7. Innovations – analytics must continue to innovate and develop solutions.

Marketing research is more vital than ever!survey-research-design-e1387322115734

According to Margot Acton, Senior Vice President, Brand and Communications Lead, TNS Canada, the traditional role of research has changed dramatically from gathering data by asking tailored questions, to having data before you can ask a question. There is a lot of room for researchers to do a better job of capitalizing on the wealth of data that is already available. However, this data tells us only what has happened, not why it has happened. Margot asserts that consumer studies and surveys will continue to play a critical role in research to help marketers understand the why.

Do better at leveraging Social Media!   social-media-images-e1387323326457

With the proliferation of personal data available from social media channels and interactive devices, marketers have to do a better job of bringing together disparate data sources to learn more about each individual customer. Currently, there is no industry standard for social media measurement, and it remains one of the biggest challenges for marketers. People are more than just demographics, and it is difficult to quantify information that often reflects emotion.

During a presentation on Social Media Metrics, a three pronged strategy was suggested to leverage social channels by generating earned media.

  1. Define the purpose of your social channel.
  2. Track & optimize – Did visitors convert? How is content being consumed?
  3. Listen & learn – know what your social community wants or cares about, and add value to conversations. Create and post content that drives action.

Marketers were also warned to avoid some classic social media measurement mistakes:

  1. Don’t automatically react to real time data. Real time data needs context, so stick to your plan.Likes ≠ social awesomeness.
  2. Engagement and actions are better measures.
  3. Search result rankings ≠ SEO success.
  4. People don’t generally search for products; they ask for help concerning a need i.e. What is best? What is top?
  5. Don’t look at # of page views. A better metric is audience returning to the site.
  6. Don’t measure success based on impressions. Impressions don’t reflect engagement.
  7. Demographic and psychographic information is not enough to understand your customers.

So, although the conference didn’t provide any revolutionary solutions to the challenges of big data and data marketing, it provided some sound and practical guidance from experts in their fields, a forum for sharing experiences, and a great opportunity to learn about new services and technologies. Given that 68% of companies expect their data related marketing expenditures to increase, there is no doubt that data driven marketing will prevail and flourish in 2014 and beyond. I look forward to seeing you at Data Marketing 2014!



Learn these top 7 Tips to Enhance Your Dashboards Visualization is often viewed as a personal preference. But it’s not. There are firm rules and best practices that will enhance the delivery of information. Follow them, and your dashboards will be useful and impactful.


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