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OCTOBER 25, 2017 //     

5 Trends Shaping Marketing Communications Measurement and Analytics

Image: IDG EnterpriseBy: Brent Diggins

By now, many (but not all) marketing and communications leaders have realized not only the importance of measurement and analytics, but also the power it affords. Data and measurement can shape organizations, justify budgets, create new budgets, help people make informed decisions and optimize current programs. The list goes on and on, even down to job security.

But what if one day that power was taken away or it slipped slowly from your fingertips? There are a number of trends shaping the data, measurement and optimization operations. Working daily with some of the world’s largest organizations and hearing feedback from CMOs, CCOs and data teams, here are the five trends I see and hear most frequently that shape marketing communications measurement (and I’m throwing out advancing technology, as that is a given…).

1. Organizational Silo Breakdowns Creating Data Challenges

Whether globally, organizationally or inter-departmentally, companies today “break down silos” to “create efficiency and consistency” or to “streamline business operations.” Whatever the motive, many organizations are in various stages and see different success levels.

When knocking down those walls, many companies find individual business units are often at various levels of data collection and reporting maturity. Therefore, they find it difficult to meet in the middle to deliver that full picture for which so many yearn.  That brings us to the next trend…

2. The Creation of Centralized Marketing and Communications Data Teams

Advanced organizations organize data and reporting structures dedicated solely to marketing and communications. I’ve seen different models ranging from an “embedded” person on each business unit team who reports through a centralized structure to a purely centralized structure that takes requests only from marketing and communications teams. Another common model organizations employ, of course, is a centralized data and reporting team servicing all business operations, where often marketing and communications takes a seat behind other requests. 

3. The Rise of Real-Time Strategists

Data comes in — mostly in real time. In a majority of structures, the data analyst is not a person with the skillset to make and navigate strategic decisions. Slot in the real-time strategist who optimizes campaigns by navigating between campaign owners and the data team. A unique skillset, the real-time optimizer can read data and come to strong conclusions, but then has the channels to change strategy and optimize operations as necessary. This person needs a lot of access and the ability to move throughout the marketing and communications organization, particularly with an un-siloed structure.

4. The Talent Void

Business analysts, financial analysts and other specialized analysts have long been in the business world, but the talent pool for marketing analysts, particularly in communications, is small. Often these people come from another discipline or background. The speed at which marketing now moves is often unattractive to the traditional researcher or analyst and compensation is less. That makes creating and maintaining a functional and scalable structure difficult.

5. Industry Education

Technology’s evolutionary pace and data and analytics’ speed make it difficult for the industry to keep up with the latest strategies, tools and metrics. We are at a point where consistent education is necessary just to understand the fundamentals. Every time a new marketing tactic or tool launches, it brings a host of available metrics that may need to be examined for optimal operation. That said, marketers and communicators will need to put more trust in their centralized specialists, or look to hire them, as individual education is simply hard to achieve. 

Looking ahead, expect marketing and communications leaders to implement these five trends in search of better measurement and analytics.

Brent Diggins is senior vice president of measurement and analytics. 

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