Will lack of reliable marketing data diminish the CMO’s influence in the boardroom?

By Harriet Durnford-Smith, CMO at Adverity.

CMOs don’t trust their own data. Can they still be credible in the boardroom, and drive impactful activations, if they can’t prove how successful their campaigns have been?

Our latest report, based on a global survey of 964 marketers and marketing data analysts revealed that one in three Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) don’t trust their marketing data. Meanwhile, despite the prevalence of tools and solutions that provide automated data integration, the time sunk into manual data wrangling continues to be ranked as the top challenge for marketing professionals.

This lack of automated data means CMOs only ever receive a retrospective view of campaign performance and marketing impact weeks after the campaign. This, in addition to wasting the precious time of hard-to-find top-notch marketers and data analysts, prevents them from making proactive, or even predictive, strategic decisions. What’s more, manually manipulated data can be far from accurate.

The top key findings of our “Marketing Analytics State of Play 2022: Challenges and Priorities” report include:

1 Your insights are only as good as the data:

Marketers want a clear overview of campaign data, boiled down to simple, easy to understand trends. Whilst they don’t necessarily need to understand the complex manual integrations that analysts are frantically pulling together behind the scenes, they do need to understand the challenges their analysts face – the biggest being manually wrangling data.

By manually integrating data from multiple sources, businesses not only open themselves up to human error and inefficiency but also commit themselves to a reactive – or worse, ineffective, strategy. Burning precious time and wasting human potential on processes that can be fully automated isn’t good for business and modern marketing can’t afford to wait three weeks for teams to build a report.

Those who cannot keep up with the evolution or aren’t willing to embrace the new ways of working will ultimately be left behind. Moving away from manually wrangling data is the first step to becoming a data-driven, and therefore, more successful business. You can’t manage what you can’t measure, as the saying goes.

2 Growing disconnect between marketers and analysts:

Both marketers and marketing data analysts want positive business outcomes but approach those from two different perspectives. Ultimately, marketers want more data usability and analysts want more data visibility.

While, 41% of analysts state that low trust in marketing reporting due to data inconsistencies or errors is a significant challenge, just 30% of marketers see this as a problem. The devil is in the detail, and the ability of marketers (and CMOs) to devise and execute impactful campaigns won’t be enhanced if their right hand ‘lieutenants’ – data analysts – don’t believe in the accuracy or ‘intelligence’ of their data in the first place.

Perceptions of data inaccuracy represent the single biggest difference in opinion between the two roles. Marketers and analysts are more than twice as likely to disagree about this than any other challenge they face. And, at the level of the C-suite, the trust divide is even greater — 51% of CTOs & CDOs lack trust in the data compared to only 34% of CMOs.  This disconnect should raise alarm bells.

Where there is no trust in data – the fundamentals of any effective marketing or brand campaign – there is no trust in the decisions based off the back of those foundations.

3 The value of data is proportionate to its timeliness

The need for increased usability and visibility of data in near real-time is clearly one of the biggest C-Suite challenges today, combined with the lack of data-driven insights to help drive marketing strategy.

The C-suite wants clear guidance on what actions to take grounded in accurate and timely data. In short, they want to harness value from their data. Unfortunately, their analysts are too busy scaling mountains of data and manually integrating a growing number of data sources to be able to see a bigger picture – to explore what the data is telling us, to spot emerging trends and activation opportunities.

Most of their time is spoken for leaving precious few moments for analysis that could highlight valuable and actionable recommendations. CMOs continue to rely on their gut feel and experience but have the potential to be better equipped for driving the business forward with better decisions based on better insights.

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