Data is becoming so critical to all business processes today. Making use of the data that we create as part of marketing to customers should help us all do a better job. But this is not just “our” data.

In his movie Rashomon, Akira Kurosawa shows that the same data, when viewed from different perspectives, can have very different interpretations. For marketers, customer records must be considered in multiple ways, both to help achieve company objectives and to preserve data privacy.

Why should you be aware of who’s using data

The definition of personal data under GDPR extends beyond physical characteristics like age, sex or location. Technical details like the customer’s IP address can also be considered as identifying an individual, and therefore should be considered as needing to be kept secure. It’s therefore worth looking at how this data might get used in any marketing analytics campaign – if it is not going to be used, then it is not worth capturing and securely keeping the data over time unnecessarily.

Instead, bringing these different snapshots of customers together in one place can help get a better picture of what is working. By getting different perspectives on customers and what is working, each team or individual can benefit overall.

Getting more control over data and analytics

However, there are more opportunities for analytics to create value. Bringing data sets together and linking them up can show some surprising and informative things that can then be used to influence future decisions. One example here would be combining sale cycle length and financial data to gauge overall profitability, which can be interesting for business management teams, while success rates and sales cycle times can influence marketing priorities for the future too.

In order to help each team meet their own needs, getting the right data in one place is only the start. Rather than asking each department to give up their data, it’s important to look at how to increase collaboration instead. By getting people networked around data, it’s easier to then help each team or individual get the answers they need.

This is a different approach that relies on understanding how different sets of data can be used in context. Automating the steps involved in preparing data can help speed this up considerably, while it can also help to bridge gaps between different systems or applications. By building a network of data, it can be easier to help different groups meet their own needs over time.

Why should marketers lead analytics in their companies?

While each team or department may have their own goals, it’s important to get a bigger picture of how the company is currently operating. By looking at current customer interaction around sales and support, marketing teams can find opportunities to improve their own operations and targeting.

However, this only takes you so far. Marketers can use these insights to look at areas like product development, potential market growth opportunities and where investments should be placed for future success. Should funds be put into more online marketing to attract customers, or would investing in a new product line offer more return? By taking ownership of how the company works with data, marketers can have more influence on the future direction of their companies.

This accountability works the other way too. By getting more data on how different groups of customers are responding to offers, marketers can gauge how successful those decisions are over time. For sales teams, this can help them influence where marketing invests to create and nurture leads. In turn this should lead to more engaged prospects that are more willing to buy. By getting the right strategy at the start, both marketing and sales teams should be able to define how they can use data in their own day-to-day activities and make a measurable difference to performance.

Carrying out this work around customers requires their data. Under GDPR, customers will have more control over their information. For companies that take the right approach to how they manage and store this information over time, this should not be a risk. Instead, it can open up opportunities to look at data in new ways, to discover new insights and to influence the future of the business. Just remember to take into account the issues discussed in my previous blog postings when collecting and using the data.