Making Marketing Data Work

Big data. Little data. Shopper data. Transaction data. Data. Data. Data. By now someone has said you need data. The trick is knowing what kind of data you need and what you should do with the data once you have it. Knowing many independent retailers have these questions in mind, I attended the Kansas City Direct Marketing Association presentation recently from Blake Hodges of Alight Analytics. Hodges had some important reminders for those of us trying to figure out how to solve the two part data problem: aggregation and reporting.

Fundamentally, before aggregating and reporting on data, you have to have it. Data comes from all different places. You likely keep track of some of this data but maybe not all and potentially not in a way that helps you make future decisions. According to Hodges most of us spend around 80% of our time prepping data but only around 20% analyzing it. This insight really calls into question the whole reason we have data.

To address this imbalance, Hodges broke down four levels of performance insight from data and how they align strategically with your connected ecosystem. Each level here is either part of the tracking strategy, data strategy, or reporting strategy.

  1. Track – This is the basic performance reporting in the form of transaction data, website analytics, email open rates, or social media engagement. You need to decide what data you care about and actively look at it.
  2. Measure – How does data interact across different platforms and in conjunction with various marketing tactics? Make notes, keep track of changes, and review those changes at a later date.
  3. Target – Move from reporting to analytics to have the data tell you what you want to do. This helps you optimize spend and maximize results.
  4. Predict – Don’t just have the data tell you what’s happened, have it help you make decisions about what to do in the future and how much of it to do.

Hodges noted that this breakdown of levels has to be progression. You can’t start using data to predict what will happen if you haven’t started at level one and worked through the levels. That’s important because when you see others are getting better at predicting, you can’t simply assume you can do that quickly as well, you need to start from the beginning.

None of this can be done though without Hodges’ 4Ps of Marketing analytics.
Platform to aggregate the data and present the findings.

Process to manage the data and determine how it is analyzed and presented.

People who can manage and connect data and build strategy along with business goals.

Plan for refining the process to support goals.

As more and more retailers wade into the world of marketing data through platforms like the Shopper Engagement Platform, Google Analytics, Facebook Insights and more, making marketing data work rather than being overloaded by data will be critical. Some of this will be automated in the future but that doesn’t negate the need to understand where data comes from, how it interacts with other data sets, how it impacts business goals and how it can help retailers become smarter business people in the future.


Why do I work at AWG? “I value the opportunity to work with family businesses. My dad owned his own business for 35 years, so it is what I know and cherish. Plus, I love food, so thinking about it everyday is a huge plus.” -Kate