Strong Data Strategies Include These 5 Tactics

By Meg Goodman

When built correctly—and embraced by all levels of an organization—a data and analytics strategy captures a holistic view of your customers and allows the business to leverage data to its fullest potential.

In an earlier article, I explained the steps for developing data plan that aligns the business under a common vision for analytics—and supports everyone’s interests in data. Ultimately, the plan will define the company’s path to optimal data and analytics.

As a follow-up, here are specific tactics that leading data-driven companies have implemented or continue to practice. These tactics should be part of your data plan to ensure the business has the right tools, technologies, and partners to effectively gather, analyze, and interpret data into actionable insights.

  1. Connect the dots in the customer’s journey.

Take inventory of the data you have available by first examining the customer journey and plotting key actions that can be tracked with data.

In other words: what data sources are necessary to help answer questions related to attaining top business goals?

As you work your way through the customer journey, make note of what data you can attach to each action and what information you might be missing. If you need guidance, take a look at my previous article on the top marketing metrics to prove ROI.

You might find that critical pieces of the puzzle are missing from your data source. And, that’s okay. Evaluating information captured by your individual channels only offers a fragmented view of your customer. That’s why it’s crucial to bring in third-party data sources to give you a more holistic view of your audience.

Find ways to integrate a variety of sources to help complete the puzzle. If your company does not own the data, determine how to fill in the missing pieces via data access through APIs, purchased lists, or partnerships.

  1. Make sure everyone is equipped to put data into play.

Google Analytics Solutions reports that across all types of organizations, 75 percent of marketers agree that lack of education and training are the greatest barriers to more business decisions being based on data insights. With this in mind, a robust data strategy should include a broad education across all departments to teach employees how to use the available data based on their role. This will enable them to make more informed decisions in real time, and offer true optimization across the company—a critical component that greatly influences the strength of your data strategy. For example, training staff to read and understand campaign performance reports can help marketing managers see opportunities to adjust messaging, while digital marketers might look for ways to optimize spend.

  1. Integrate technology stacks.

For a healthy approach, your data and analytics strategy should address how data and related technologies are integrated.

Departments need to be communicating with each other, and their technologies must also be integrated and working together to benefit from seeing the customer’s full story. This is why integrating marketing and advertising stacks is crucial. Doing so allows you to see valuable customer insights and apply them to remarketing strategies—and to deliver personalized web experiences and communications.

  1. Establish quality control and processes.

Evaluate the quality of your data sources and collection systems. Dig deeper to ensure the correct tagging, filters, and analytics configurations are being used before relying on any data set or report.

From there, build processes to enforce best practices and an analytics-focused culture. This will ensure that procedures are repeated regularly. It will also show people whose role influences a metric where they fit into the strategy. Outside vendors should also be included in this roadmap if anything they do impacts the data delivery supply chain.

  1. Hire a chief data officer (CDO) to oversee all things data.

While it’s not always necessary, hiring a CDO might be a beneficial new hire in your data and analytics strategy. In this role, an experienced senior manager oversees all data-related functions, such as data storage, business intelligence, analytics, and data governance, among other responsibilities. A CDO should also ensure data is protected throughout its lifecycle and maintain a constant flow of proposals and prototypes for new data-driven products and services.

Ideally, the CDO should report directly to the CEO, rather than the head of the IT department. This gives the CDO complete authority to execute various data initiatives. Further, since a data and analytics strategy involves many people across the company, it makes more sense for the CDO to report to the CEO.

The CDO should have direct reports who are involved in key areas of the data delivery supply chain in order to better align initiatives, processes, and infrastructure. This will also avoid data silos and ensure the free flow of data and analytics throughout the company.

The key to leveraging the best data and using it in the most meaningful ways is collaboration across the business, at all levels. Data needs to be ever-present in all functions or projects. And, teams need to talk to each other and keep to their assigned data procedures. Doing this will enhance how the available data is interpreted and used, positively impacting several different areas of the organization.

Meg Goodman is the managing director of relationship marketing agency Jacobs & Clevenger. She has brought measurable, data-driven results to a variety of major financial institutions. When she’s not riding her motorcycle, you can connect with Meg on LinkedIn or Email: [email protected].