Metrics and big data will propel today’s marketing leaders toward success. While the notion of the metrics-driven CMO is well-understood, marketers still struggle with how to apply big data to deliver big business value. To do so successfully, they must expand their point of view beyond marketing activities and center campaigns around their customers and their buying processes.

carl_thumbnailThe deeper marketers understand their customers’ buying journeys, the better they will design campaigns that produce revenue and profits–and the more success and support they will garner within their organizations. Not only does this pave the path toward a successful career as a CMO, but it also paves the path toward CEO. Look no further than McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook and Mercedes-Benz CEO Steven Cannon, who both previously held executive-level marketing and brand management positions, to see how metrics and understanding the customer can propel marketers to the top.

Focus On The Customer
When asked if the marketing function drives new revenue and growth, some business leaders are quick to answer no. Given this perspective, it’s extremely important for marketers who want credibility in the field to show how they are retaining and growing revenue. And that begins with the customer.

Typically, marketers brainstorm ways to reach targeted markets, design a campaign, and record its reach. When asked, “How did a campaign perform?” they spit out numbers around how many people engaged with a campaign, the number of likes, or the total reach. While these numbers tell part of the story, they aren’t the metrics that will bring about the most success.

For example, saying that 200 prospects responded to an email campaign doesn’t translate into how it impacts the bottom line. It’s far more impactful to the business when you move backwards. What did the customers do before purchasing, and what was their journey? By knowing this, marketers can start from the bottom up and build a campaign that replicates the buying journey.

Adopt An Agile Approach And Company Alignment To Win Big
Everyone talks about incorporating analytics into the marketing function, but it is difficult to do so across a large percentage of the buyer’s journey. Understanding the profile of who buys and why is fundamental to an effective, multi-pronged and multi-channel campaign. Effective marketers think about information beyond marketing and find sales or product advocates with whom they can work alongside.

Some industries, specifically consumer packaged goods and financial services, have a firm grasp on this, but others must play catch-up fast.

Take, for example, pharmaceutical companies. Leading-edge drug companies use marketing data to understand when they should market certain products and have alignment between brand managers and marketers to do so. By looking at micro-markets that have higher incidences of the common cold or the flu, they can alter their consumer-facing marketing spend across regions during different seasons.

With solid data to back them up, they can decide where to spend more money marketing a cold or flu medicine based on actual needs, versus investing in regions simply because they have been traditional markets. With real numbers to back it up and a strong tie to how the campaign will boost revenue, they’re more likely to get more buy-in from other decision makers.

Find The Right Metrics For The Job
When profiling the customer, the most successful marketers go beyond basic demographics to look at what products customers purchased, at what time, and for what reason. When you design marketing campaigns based on finer grain purchasing and profiling data and replicate what led customers to purchase, you are in direct influence over the company’s revenue growth.

However, tying together all this data can be a tricky business, especially when there is no centralized data owner. Customer touch points sit in multiple departments and silos, including point of sale data, affinity card management systems, customer relationship management systems, marketing automation software, Web systems, and data warehouses. The key is to tie all of this together with the right data analytics tools to examine revenue points and gain the most realistic understanding of what’s happening beyond the marketing walls.

Depending on your industry segment, the maturing of marketing and analytics ranges from a constant competitive weapon of differentiation to an emerging discipline, and the winners will be the ones who figure out how to do this well and at scale. The biggest winners will be ones who center their data-driven marketing approaches on the customer.