It’s time for marketers to get serious about data

By Jeff Alford, SAS Insights editor

By now, most organizations, large and small, know that they need to collect data from their customers. The question then becomes, if everyone is collecting data, where is the competitive advantage? The advantage is in how you choose, distil and manage the data and then how you use it.

Think of it as data alchemy. And analytics can be your Philosopher’s Stone, the secret ingredient that turns hoarded data into marketing gold. Recently, the Winterberry Group produced a paper, Data as Competitive Advantage, in which it surveyed more than 100 executives in marketing-related roles.

Download the paper

The paper draws its conclusions from the survey and provides supporting evidence from information gathered during the survey.


Don't just sit there, data, do something!

Based on the findings, here are some ways organizations can become more successful.

Analytics equals competitive advantage

It’s not just about having data, rather it’s about what you do with that data. According to the survey, nearly a third of panelists (all of whom characterize their organization as highly sophisticated when it comes to squeezing results out of their data} say that their analytics capabilities have led to a competitive advantage. If your organization is not getting every drop of data goodness, you can be certain that several of your competitors are.

Even modest data use results in greater differentiation

This means that taking action rather than sitting on your data waiting for an innovative idea to strike. Organizations that rank themselves as modest data users say that even their unremarkable efforts have made them stand apart from those competitors that do little or nothing with their data.

The single best thing you can do with your data is gain customer insights

More than 70 percent of those surveyed said that their biggest successes with their analytics programs have been with customer segmentation. And 40 percent said that enhancing the customer experience based on their needs and preferences has produced tangible benefits.

Small successes provide greater motivation

The survey revealed that, of course, senior leaders want all of their organizations’ marketing efforts to have a significant effect on their revenue (and they should). But, while nearly all of those surveyed said that increasing revenue was a primary data objective, only about 12 percent said that their effort and reward levels were on par.

Why? This is an educated guess, but those not in the top bracket probably went into full-tilt data collection mode without have a clear, repeatable strategy in place. Okay, I don’t want to say it, but . . . “walk before you run.” Start with small projects and modest goals and build on top of, or expand upon, the projects that net tangible results.

What are others doing?

When respondents were asked to choose the sort of programs they would implement to enhance their data use, the survey listed these as the top five:

  • Private market media buying.
  • Cross-channel marketing metrics.
  • Open market media buying.
  • Customer analytics for strategic and operational insights.
  • Omnichannel engagement.

And, finally, it’s not just marketer’s that need to get serious about data; it’s now the responsibility of senior executives, too. Nearly 90 percent of survey respondent’s agreed that leaders should own the enterprise data strategy, management and implementation if for no other reason than to provide a centralized perspective (i.e., without data silos).


What to read next

Want to know how to get closer to your goal of 1:1 marketing? Our white paper, Using SAS® to Deliver Analytically Injected Digital Personalization for Online and Offline Data, offers a phase approach for capturing clickstream data that can be used for real-time personalization.

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