Posted on: 26 03 2024

What success looks like in data-driven marketing transformation

Reading time: 4 mins

Data is the lifeblood of modern marketing. It fuels vital insights, it enables the optimisation of marketing strategies, it enhances customer experiences, and ultimately it helps drive business growth. Data is now at the heart of marketing transformation for many enterprises.

However, managing successful marketing transformation is no easy task. It requires technical expertise, investment of time and resource and collective determination.  

Luxid wanted to get under the hood of what it takes for ordinary companies to become great and to outperform their competitors in data-driven marketing transformation. So, we analysed the activities of over 70 companies from the past 10 years – all Luxid B2B and B2C clients across different sectors and with varying tech stacks. And we presented our findings at Martechopia in London.  

We assessed the success of businesses that were looking to significantly increase capability and performance across four areas of data-driven marketing: 1) operations based on customer insight, 2) insight accessibility, 3) operative precision and performance, and 4) triggered process automation & optimisation. We were able to categorise companies into ‘great and good’ ones. In doing, this we took into consideration more than 90 different characteristics across data, team, know how, processes, technology and leadership.   

The success factors in marketing transformation 

Critically, we found that data was the most important factor in marketing transformation – with companies winning in transformation 2.5 times more likely to score in this category. The second most important category in driving transformation was leadership, followed by technology, team, know-how and lastly, processes. 

And, there were two individual characteristics that had the biggest differences in favour of the winners. First, was a programme leader with previous experience with similar initiatives. And this was not always an in-house leader. Second was access to and utilisation of centralised data (from more than just one source). And the difference with these two factors was huge – the winners in transformation were 17 times more likely to have these characteristics.  

With these headline findings, we delved deeper to better understand the characteristics of successful transformation: 

Focus on one channel and related capabilities first 

As we assessed the fundamentals for success, it was clear that these things take time. The most successful companies have spent, on average, two and half years on their journey before seeing significant success. And some have been on their transformation journey for more than four years. 

The winners were considered in their approach and focused on fixing their foundations first of all. They often moved one channel at a time, usually with the website or paid media channels being the first to reach high maturity. 

Audience strategy and KPI ownership really matter 

Our winners were nine times more likely to focus marketing on the needs of individual audiences or segments in their business, rather than adopt a general product marketing approach. 

The winners were four times more likely to favour assigning individual team members accountability for KPIs rather than give responsibility to a whole team. And the winners were nine times more likely to use business metrics to assess success (eg cost per lead, opportunity pipeline impact) rather than operative metrics (conversion rates, click-throughs, page views).   

A long-term focus but a willingness to pivot  

Somewhat surprisingly, 60% of the winning leaders didn’t have the most distilled down definition of their goal(s). But what every winning leader had in common was a clear and precise short-term vision, which if wrong, they could pivot from.   

A test & learn culture was seven times more common in the winning organisations, which very much speaks to the culture of pivoting. And the leaders were also seven times more inclined to foster a sense of urgency or ask for operational speed. This was especially important for companies that discovered that a different direction was needed to improve progress.  

Getting the right approach to data sets 

We found that a high volume of marketing data (compared to sales, ERP or product data) was a critical success factor. This is about starting with the foundations and taking control of things that you, as a marketing, have true influence over. 

The winners were nine times more able to utilise sales data in their operative channels compared to their peers. And an overwhelmingly strong 94% of the winning teams had a high level of data literacy.  

And, what really stood out was the understanding of sales data, with a two times margin in favour of the winners. This demonstrates the importance of understanding how the different dimensions of the sales process are reflected in data and what a specific value in a specific field in the database means in real life terms.  

A few surprises in the findings 

Interestingly, we saw that companies that we identified as winners also experienced significant budget cuts along the way, and had key talent turnover mid-initiative. We also noted that there was no significant difference in how rigid or flexible IT or related processes were.  

Some of the winners even had more manual integrations between platforms in place during their journey, something that would usually be avoided. However, they were able to identify the exact must-win battles, where data exchange - even done manually - drives so much value that it is worth the pain of non-automation.  

We are now finalising Luxid’s full report on marketing transformation. You can sign up here to receive the full study once it is released. And you can watch Luxid and Outokumpu’s full presentation on marketing transformation at Martechopia here. 

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