Marketing is about recognising where you are and knowing where you want to be. It’s about measuring progress. However gone are the days of acting on gut instinct alone. Data-driven marketing has emerged and the more data you have—the better.

In order to stay ahead of the curve in today’s ultra-competitive landscape, it is essential for marketers to embrace the data revolution. As a tool to inform insights and smart decision-making, Big Data reaps huge advantages for marketing departments. From small companies to huge multi-national enterprises, every corner of today’s marketing world must learn to leverage the value it brings.

Indeed, data can now be rendered in flexible, innovative ways to unlock key insights from existing information. From analysing campaign revenue and survey responses, to tracking social mentions and assessing buying behaviour, organisations need a foundation of agile management systems that handle streams of complex, often unstructured data from multiple sources.

How data is analysed can impact the verdict on whether a particular marketing campaign was a success or failure. There have been social campaigns, for example, where the marketing funnel illustrates how campaign efforts didn’t increase social mentions, but did boost the percentage of Web visitors who downloaded and registered a product. This detail could have easily have gone unnoticed in a non-data intensive environment.

In addition, Big Data is essential to unlock insight into emerging trends in order to design future campaigns. For instance, in 2014, we saw organisations begin to analyse social data in earnest, but in 2015 marketers will start to really take advantage of its capabilities and turn social intelligence into smarter strategies. Tracking conversations at scale via social will enable businesses to find out when a topic is starting to trend and what their customers are talking about. Social analytics will thereby open the door to responsive product optimisation, and as a result, marketing leaders will make their competitors feel that they have an eerie ability to see into the future.

Nevertheless, in a world where the importance of analytics is clearly beyond refute, it remains difficult for many marketers to know where to begin when it comes to making sense of incomplete and inconsistent data. But Big Data shouldn’t have to mean big headaches. Fortunately, a democratisation process is under way that is helping more people unlock insights, and consequently revolutionising the marketing landscape.

Thanks to the emergence of easy-to-use business analytics and data-visualisation software, marketers are now equipped to quickly drill down to specific account detail without reliance on the in-demand data scientist position within an organisation. What’s more, with data visualisation software, marketing departments now have access to user-friendly products to manipulate the way data looks–the layout, colours, and other graphic elements. To illustrate in terms of running a digital marketing campaign, the best approach for marketers when using this kind of software is to combine every piece of information–every click, page view, tweet, campaign response, email open, form complete, purchase, and download–into one complete dashboard. This approach might mean blending data by mixing existing, multiple data sources in a way that overlays varied information into single, visually coherent, and flexible workspace that enables marketers to manipulate the data to quickly and easily spot trends and reveal insights.

This move towards democratising data is pushing the marketing industry to new heights, helping people across all levels of a business to intuitively manage campaign analytics in real-time. And it’s helping these same people deploy familiar data sources in ways that can be easily disseminated in a clear and visually compelling way, whether it be to internal colleagues within an organisation or during customer-facing presentations.


By Elissa Fink, Chief Marketing Officer of Tableau Software

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