In her illuminating book, The Analytical Marketer: How to Transform Your Marketing Organization, author Adele Sweetwood, Senior Vice President of Global Marketing of analytic software giant SAS, tells the story of a large business-to-consumer prospect who came to SAS for information about customer intelligence
software. SAS marketers sent representatives from the prospect more than 30 emails during a 90-day period. Unfortunately, none of them had
anything to do with CI solutions but were focused instead on Big Data solutions and user-group meetings for other product offerings. These emails kept coming even after the prospect company had informed SAS that it had decided to use a competitor’s solution.
What went wrong? According to Sweetwood, SAS completely fumbled this opportunity because, she writes, “what we had failed to recognize was that this particular customer was in his ‘decide’ phase, meaning he was ready to choose a vendor to work with. Yet we were treating the customer as if he was still unsure about what he needed.”
The Customer Decision Journey
For Sweetwood, marketing analytics is not about the accumulation of big data. It is about knowing how to leverage this data to engage the customer in a personalized marketing conversation, one that is centered around who they are and what they need — or what she calls the
Today, Sweetwood writes, the customer-decision journey is not the company-driven process it used to be. Customers have the tools and data available to be the drivers of the process. They are the ones who control their interactions with the company. “That means,” she writes, “that how you as an organization respond to new customers — while nurturing and retaining existing customers — has also changed.”
Specifically, she writes, companies must 1) understand the decision or experience the journey of their customers, 2) identify a prospect’s location on this journey and, finally, 3) “leverage the data and analytics to tell your customer’s
story and listen to it.”
For example, to refine its email marketing campaigns, SAS used a variety of big data tools and analysis — including scoring (assigning a value to all interactions); segmentation (using the scoring to identify where the customer was located on the journey), automation (launching emails that corresponded to the customer’s stage of the journey). As a result, every stage in the journey generated different email content.
How exactly does a company leverage the data and analytics to tell its customer’s story? According to Sweetwood, it requires a fundamental change in the company’s marketing mindset, structure, talent and leadership. How to transform these four elements is at the heart of the book.
Companies, she writes, must adopt an agile and proactive analytic mindset rather than the reactive mindset of traditional marketing. This means not only embracing analytics but also accepting accountability for the data.
Companies must realign their structures, breaking down the traditional silos between the departments to ensure partnerships and collaboration. The end result should be a “converged,” or unified, view of the customer.
Once led by “artists,” today’s modern marketing function needs a variety of modern skills and talents, including data and analytics, social media, process design and storytelling.
Finally, the company needs the agile marketing leader who can orchestrate the modern talent of the function and also build the cross-functional relationships to ensure that organization-wide goals and objectives are aligned with customer needs.
The Analytical Marketer is based on the efforts of Sweetwood and her team to adapt the company’s marketing function to the age of analytics. Each chapter has practical steps, tools and concise-but-comprehensive frameworks that emphasize the book’s focus on implementation.
Business leaders and marketers will benefit from the lessons and best practices of this learned, well-written addition to the marketing-in-the-digital-age canon.
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