How Data Controls Can Help Marketing Teams Focus on Higher-Return Activities and Boost ROI

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In today’s digital world, data is a business’s lifeblood. Whether it’s first-, second- or third-party data, this information helps them make more informed, data-backed decisions. For example, it helps product teams understand how their customers are using their technology while giving the IT organization valuable insight into the business’s technical infrastructure. Data-first organizations within a company, like product and IT, have been leveraging data to improve business outcomes for years. As a result, they’re good at it and can digest an unimaginable amount of data with relative ease (while not completely eating into their resources). 

That said, data is becoming the guiding light for Marketing teams as the bulk of their efforts go digital. Data derived from these initiatives help them measure ROI and increase advertising personalization. It helps them become more efficient. In 2020 and beyond, data will be the foundation from which a successful, results-driven Marketing team is built. 

Here’s the problem: Most Marketing teams don’t have the skills and resources necessary to keep pace. And if they do, managing, analyzing, and turning data into actionable insights is time-consuming, which prevents the individual or individuals responsible for the data-orientated tasks from focusing on higher-return activities, like creative, strategy, and messaging. For Marketing teams hoping to gain the most ROI from every member of their team, they have to circumvent the data maze in a way that frees their team to spend more time on ROI-boosting activities. This is where data controls come into play. 

Defining Data Controls and the Some of the Use Cases for Marketers

For Marketing teams, data is their guiding light—it’s what they look toward to make decisions that are in the best interest of the business. But here’s the problem: Data analysis, especially with dirty data, slows down the process and trustworthy decisions. Additionally, this analysis eats into critical marketing resources. 

Let me put this into perspective using an example from my career in marketing: 

At my previous job (I did content marketing for a SaaS company), there was a member of the team who was responsible for the data. Any data that came in, he owned it. And he was good at it. Seriously, he could take any data collected from any part of our marketing engine and turn it into actionable insight we could use to improve. He’d spend hours sifting through webinar registrants, finding the SQLs, and then sending them to the sales team. He’d do the same following any of our paid campaigns to figure out which ads performed best. We’d be able to answer: Which ones flopped? What can we do better next time? What message resonated the most with our target audience? This doesn’t even include the mid-campaign optimizations he had to make on the fly to keep things running toward the campaign’s KPIs. This was his bread and butter and was (and still is) darn good at it. The insights he’d come back with were paramount to our success. The thing is, this is all he did. And while he didn’t complain, he was more than just a numbers guy—he was also a brilliant marketer who had plenty of head space remaining to participate in other marketing activities like overall campaign strategy and creative. We couldn’t tap into that though because he was always stuck in a swarm of data. That is, until we implemented marketing data controls. 

So, what are data controls? For Marketing teams, they’re technologies, systems, and processes engineered to handle the mundane, time-consuming (albeit necessary) tasks that keep a marketing machine running. Think Hubspot, or more generally, AI-powered technology like Sprinklr, the latter of which helps marketers deliver personalized advertising to consumers on channels effectively and efficiently with limited risk to their brand. 

That said, data controls don’t have to cost a fortune. A drop-down menu for selecting tracking link mediums and sources or pre-built naming conventions for digital assets can also have a tremendous impact. So too can mapping campaign field values from Facebook or Google into Adobe or Google Analytics custom fields/dimensions. The reality is that data controls will look different for every marketing team. However, their objectives are all the same: Offload some of the mundane and repetitive data-oriented tasks that eat so many valuable resources. 

What Can Marketing Teams Focus on Now That Data Controls Are in Place? 

With some new data controls in play, the next question is clear: Now what? With hours gained back each week now that data controls have taken the reigns, where should the modern Marketing team be reallocating their time? The obvious answer: ROI-boosting marketing activities.

What could this look like in the real world? 

It could mean more meetings to address higher-level questions and activities, like, “How can we get users to interact with our product?” or “Are we targeting the right audience?” Maybe it gives the team more time to map out a better strategy for an upcoming webinar or a few extra hours to focus on the creative assets that drive brand perception and recognition. For some Marketing teams, the additional bandwidth will enhance their SEO strategy or boost their content marketing efforts. 

There’s an endless list of ways this can happen. Still, it all boils down to this: With data controls, Marketing teams have newfound bandwidth to move the needle in ways they previously were unable to, like overall campaign creative strategy. It’s up to Marketers to dip their toes into data controls, figure out what works best, and then implement them. Only then will they see a return on their investment. 

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