A CMO Walks Into a Pitch and Says, “Show Me the Data!”
Marketers have access to more data than ever before. Our business decisions depend on it—so much so that “Show me the data!” has become a rallying cry heard in nearly every discussion in which strategy, execution, or measurement is up for debate. Content, and its role in the buying process, is no exception.
Data is as data does
At Tendo, we welcome data-driven conversations. After all, quantitative research has long shown the wisdom of investing in content marketing. Thanks to analytics, we can see in hard data what is most meaningful and engaging to a specific target audience at a certain point in time. More important, data enables us to learn by iteration, and fine-tune content to be even more relevant and useful.
Data can also help determine the right content mix for the right audience at the right stage of the buyer’s journey. It helps identify the right merchandizing tactic and a myriad of other decisions that used to be based on the experience, gut feeling, or whim of the biggest title in the room. That said, data is as data does. Decisions are only as good as the data supplied and the analysis applied.
For example, while presenting a content strategy to a client’s chief marketing officer, we made the recommendation to create content that spoke to the informational needs of an underserved buying audience. This recommendation was based on the following criteria:
- An extensive audit of the client’s entire website shows that almost no content currently addresses this audience’s critical informational needs
- Alignment with the new strategic vision laid out by the CEO, citing this audience and their outcomes as a central pillar to repositioning the company
- Limited but credible data demonstrating that the company successfully engaged this audience in a previous campaign
It’s not black and white
The response? The CMO questioned the usefulness of creating content for this audience, and asked for data showing that this audience has any influence on a purchase decision.
Did we have the data? We did not. As noted, the company’s marketing traditionally neglected this audience. Demonstrating revenue impact was not possible without assets and resulting consumption data. And our recommendation? DOA.
Despite our recommendation dying a quick and painful death, we believe the company is missing an opportunity to run a pilot program. It could create a small campaign that delivers relevant content across the journey to understand, if, where, and how this target audience might help in its repositioning and whether there’s a direct or indirect impact on revenue. In other words, the pilot would get the desired data to analyze the effectiveness of such an approach.
The last word
Marketing departments are under intense scrutiny to show revenue impact. Using data to better understand whether an initiative makes sense is what all responsible marketers should do. But when a lack of data gets in the way of making the decisions that experience, gut feeling, or title used to make—we’d recommend marketing responsibly, without data, every time.