Data Driven Marketing: How to make data a habit

Data Driven Marketing: How to make data a habit

Following my post a few months ago where I outlined the five steps to successful Data Driven Marketing, this blog is part one in a series – covering how to make data a habit.

Before taking steps on the path to data driven marketing you must first decide what the driving factor is for any data-led decisions you make based on the overarching business objectives and priorities. What are your Key Performance Indicators? Are you solely looking at sales figures? Is acquisition the focus above all others, or is it just as important to address attrition and execute better cross and up-sell strategies? What about customer engagement and delivering exceptional customer experiences that impact brand perception?

Define What Is Important

In effect we are looking at clearly defining the outcomes expected from any investment in marketing activity, so that a framework for evaluating Return on Investment can be developed.  After all, the age old cliché of “What gets measured gets done” is largely true, but we also need to be conscious of the fact that setting the correct KPI’s that are aligned to business goals is key to ensure we respect the maxim of William Bruce Cameron.



One of the techniques we use in Occam to help with this process is the KPI Tree. In effect this involves identifying the top level goal and identifying the underlying factors that influence this. 

The process identifies all of the core metrics and influencers that affect the KPI’s and objectives the business is aiming to deliver.  Identifying these measures and acknowledging the need to track and monitor them is key part of becoming more data driven in your marketing, because you are beginning to use data to help benchmark progress and validate the activities being undertaken

Make Data Accessible and Visible

Outside of KPI’s and tracking progress against ROI, for data to truly become a habit it needs to made readily accessible, be that the raw underlying data to help inform a decision or the outcome of data insights published in dashboards and tracking reports. Data integration is a key enabler for this to be successful and also one of the biggest challenges for many businesses today along with technology interoperability issues.  A survey run by Winterberry Group cited data integration as being key to helping with the move to more data driven marketing activity.

In addition, making data visible throughout the business is essential, it raises its profile and through good visualisation approaches can make it readily understandable and useful.

Whilst technology is of course, important here, ensuring the right people and processes are geared up to support a data integration and visibility agenda for any organisation is also critical.

Develop Your Data Strategy

When you start to surface data across your business it is essential that it is trusted, well managed and understood. Taking steps to implement an organisation wide data strategy to ensure that aspects such as quality, consistency, governance and availability are considered, managed and executed across the organisation is vital.  The key  to managing this is to start on the areas of the business that are directly related to the objectives you are trying to achieve; start small, get buy-in and then build out from there.  

Personally I am an advocate of creating cross functional working groups that are focused around a specific data challenge, it’s a great way of encouraging collaboration and breaking down internal barriers between different functions (note how I skilfully avoided using the clichéd turn of phrase “silos”).  It also ensures that internal skills and expertise is shared.

And On and On…

Apparently it takes 61 days to form a habit (not the 21 days often cited), so to ensure the behaviours become ingrained in day-to-day activity, I like to follow the principles of Tom Bartow’s model of habit formation when tackling data driven marketing:

  1. “Honeymoon” - recognise the “honeymoon” period; when things feel easy and everything is good, exploit this to push activities through and gain initial traction.

  2. “Fight Thru” -  where bad old habits start to come to the fore and things just feel difficult. To overcome this, Tom suggests you need to recognise this stage is normal, go back to the key questions that drove the change in the first place to remind yourself why you started on the path and then visualise successful outcomes to focus on the end goal, rather than the barriers and challenges.

  3. “Second Nature” – if you navigate the “fight thru” stage then eventually it will become the norm, however disruptions from business change and small failures knocking confidence can undermine achieving the goal.   That’s when it becomes key to “fight thru” and continue on the path to data driven.

Taking this first steps on the path to data driven marketing will help you to establish the important metrics and make use of data to track your progress and inform your subsequent actions. You’ll know when that step has been taken because what the data says will become as important to you as your own experience and personal intuition and you will weave these facets together to deliver better decision making that ultimately benefits your marketing activity.


Gary Arnold, Solution Strategy Director at Occam DM Ltd (part of the St Ives Group)


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