Skip to Content

Marketing has data and authority but isn’t data-driven – why?

18 Oct 2021

Everyone in marketing feels the pressure to be data-driven, but only few manage to use data to its full potential. Marketing data is more abundant and available than ever, so what exactly is slowing us down?

In this article, we take a look at the expanded range of responsibilities for CMOs, and reflect that with the challenges of going data-driven. Three marketing leaders from Finnish enterprises point out what data-driven marketing hinges on, and how to grasp the data opportunity. Statistics are based on our global study of CMOs and marketing executives.

CMOs are taking on new responsibilities

With the data revolution, CMOs have found themselves better equipped to expand their responsibilities to other areas than traditional ones, such as brand building. This opportunity has been well received, and today, the direct and shared responsibilities of CMOs span wider than ever before.

According to our study, 93% of marketers have direct or shared responsibility of traditional brand building. On top of that, these statistics describe how marketers’ direct responsibility is expanding:

  • 55% have a direct responsibility of business strategy, incl. product and pricing (35% have a shared responsibility)
  • 27% for business growth, incl. profit and revenue margins (49% have a shared responsibility)
  • 33% for data and technology, incl. customer data platforms, automation and analytics (41% have a shared responsibility)
  • 28% for customer experience, incl. loyalty (41% have a shared responsibility)

Data and technology have been key enablers in lifting CMOs and their marketing teams to become growth drivers within the organization. However, data challenges persist and cause most marketing teams to struggle with their newly discovered responsibilities.

Marketing teams fall short of being data-driven

Less than half (45%) of marketers use data to drive strategic decisions. Why is this? Why are they not able to activate the data that’s available?

The answer lies in the question: marketers simply have insufficient data and tech capabilities. Several statistics from our study show a gap in marketing teams’ ability to utilize the data that’s available to them. For instance, only:

  • 47% have a framework for data collection
  • 45% use a customer data platform
  • 37% use automation to set up campaign triggers

Lacking data utilization is most often explained by siloed and fragmented data sources, missing integration between online and offline channels, and the difficulty to get buy-in for investments that would develop data capabilities.

Another element to the problem is a skill gap. Marketing teams are under high pressure to keep up with developments in tech, but acquiring a broad and deep set of data skills does not come easy. According to our study:

  • Only 46% of marketing teams have adequate AR/VR skills
  • Only 45% have adequate social digital marketing skills
  • Only 44% have adequate AI/ML skills

High-performers show that data-driven marketing can be a growth driver

Our study identified a high-performing group of marketing organizations (11% of marketing teams) that demonstrates what the domain can achieve when the pieces of the data puzzle are in place. These organizations are comprehensively data-driven in the way that they drive business outcomes.

The high-performers excel in four distinct areas. They:

  • Derive more value from real-time marketing activities
  • Realize increased customer satisfaction and conversion rates
  • Possess well-rounded talent
  • Foster creativity while basing decisions on data

We asked three local experts how they see the role of data, and what they consider the keys to success in data-driven marketing. Here are some highlights from our discussion on 23rd September.

Guest Speakers

Lauri Toivonen (SVP of Marketing at S Group)
Lauri Toivonen is highly-experienced and recognized business developer in the Finnish retail market. Lauri is representing thought leadership and strategic enhancement among marketing in the transforming retail market. He is experienced in multiple global and local business development roles, both from start-up level and publicly traded organizations. Leading transformation and innovativeness so ambitiously and successfully, that the results have been recognized globally. These award-winning solutions have conquered the market and have been recognized in global form, such as Cannes Lions, The One Show and Clio Awards.

Sameli Mäenpää (SVP, Chief Data Officer at OP Financial Group)
Sameli Mäenpää is a business and technology leader with international experience. Mäenpää is currently working as the Chief Data Officer in OP Financial Group. In this position he is in the forefront of digitalization and technology development; concepts like AI, platform economy, big data and blockchain are part of his daily life. He has over 15 years of experience in banking. Mäenpää has founded several start-ups of which Oima is the most significant.

Clara Lee (VP of Brand at Neste)
Clara Lee believes that brand buidling doesn’t apply only to marketing and marketing doesn’t start only when you have a product to sell. She joined Neste, ranked 4th most sustainable company on Corporate Knights’ Global 100 list , in March 2021. Prior to that, Clara held positions in brand, marketing and go-to-market in Nokia and several international advertising and brand consultancies. A Singaporean who has lived in Finland for 13 years, Clara is also a technology and food enthusiast.

What is the role of marketing and data today?

Lauri: The role of marketing has undergone tremendous change. At S Group, for instance, we’ve gone from productional support function to a business unit driving growth, and this development can be seen across the board.

Sameli: Every day we try to understand what makes the customers tick, and data is so important in that work. Data has for instance increased fidelity in segmentation, as it can provide subtle findings that demographics, income and other traditionally used factors do not reveal.

Clara: What strikes me is that only 38% of marketers say they have access to customer data in a format fit for decision making. Data and the ‘digital life’ have been around for decades now but somehow many companies have not caught up with their tools. This puts their marketing teams on the back foot when it comes to getting deep insights on their customer base.

How do you see the challenges with data?

Sameli: Especially larger companies suffer from legacy which affects their data availability and data quality. It’s also a question of culture and talent: to be data-driven is to have people who strive to base innovation and development upon data.

Clara: Data is a shared responsibility, and this creates complexity. All of us will probably agree that fragmentation tends to limit data collection and reporting. Also, investments in data and martech are assessed differently in global vs. local companies. In smaller firms, investments in data and tech are often given the go ahead only if there is a proven impact on sales, whereas multinationals understand that simply reducing complexity can bring benefits – such as cost savings or better customer relationships– that are equally valuable to an increase in sales.

Lauri: Not having data is rarely an issue. I think in many cases the biggest barrier is that the management system doesn’t support data-driven marketing activities. Organizations have been built on the past, and if the management system doesn’t change, nothing changes.

What is your advice for organizations that aspire to become data-driven?

Clara: Converting data into meaningful action requires investment, technical knowledge and, most importantly, a vision of how you want to use data as a company. Getting a centralized data repository may be the first step, but successful data utilization also calls for a shift in mindset. It isn’t just about the capabilities.

Lauri: All marketing is already more or less data-driven. What separates high-performers in my view is that their teams share a common vision of the customer experience and are creative. The data needs to be a servant for better products and services – not the other way around. For example, in our mobile services, data is made into a service that adds value to customers, rather than used to push things to them.

Sameli: A great customer experience is the best form of sales and marketing. And data is the key to better experiences. Too many firms still think technology first and customer second.

Marjut Kytösalmi
Head Of Digital – Application Services
at Capgemini Finland