How digital marketers can use business intelligence tools
In 2014, we noticed an increasing amount of time was being spent on data discrepancies. So, we decided to investigate just how much time and money was being wasted by the media department on eliminating manual and/or third party data discrepancies.
We weren’t quite prepared for the results.
The research showed we had an average of ten data reporting errors every week (internal and third party). Each of those errors took on average three hours to locate and fix, costing us more than 1,500 man hours per year. The yearly cost to business? £156,000.
It was something of a shock that a mundane task was costing the business this much each year. Our team members were also feeling the pressure of being tasked to find countless needles in endless haystacks.
And our clients were often in the same boat too, battling with an endless stream of spreadsheets and pivot tables.
Research shows that marketers in the UK feel left behind by their overseas competitors when it comes to analysing and exploiting data
With data at the heart of all that we do and no end in sight as to the volume and formats of inbound data we analyse and report on, we clearly needed a solution to our problem. Our answer was to develop a business intelligence (BI) tool, ‘Cortex’, to help tackle the problem.
BI is not a new solution and has been turning big data into something valuable and usable for years, but the sophistication and effectiveness has matured, making the tool critical, especially for digital marketing agencies awash with data, as is the norm today.
Cortex was designed to turn vast volumes of data into usable business intelligence. An important point to make is that we developed the tool for the agency first. Yes, we knew there would be client benefits down the line, but Cortex was designed to get House of Kaizen fighting fit, increasing efficiency and decreasing frustrations via a reduction in wastage of time.
Ultimately, this was an exercise in bottom line profitability.
Kicking things off
To get things started, we knew that the BI tool had to do four things: control the data and solutions to ensure a source of truth and true consolidation; allow for fast processing of deep data sets; optimise audience and media performance; facilitate better monetisation of data.
At its simplest, a BI system should provide a reporting and planning environment for both clients and media planners to allow for better understanding of single and multi-channel cause and effect. This means it requires at least a base level ability to perform predictive analysis to answer the question of “What will happen?”
But BI can also do so much more.
Years ago, BI was limited to predefined data sets and metrics and analysed static reports. Now tools can pioneer prescriptive analytics and explore the relationships that exist between the various data sources and acting on how to exploit those to the benefit of our KPIs (i.e., 'Which lever do I pull and when?').
BI in powering personalisation and CX
Increasingly, we are seeing uses for BI in powering advanced dynamic creative optimisation and content personalisation strategies that drive acquisition, activation and retention. There are already examples of data being used to drive content personalisation, allowing websites to morph into thousands of different conversations to adapt to an individual user’s needs – expect this to develop at pace.
Data management systems will become even more prominent in the driving of programmatic advertising by uniting real-time insight and bidding with programmable algorithms to drive further automated efficiencies in our quest to reach audiences at the right time with the right message across any device.
But even the most advanced BI tool needs support from within the business. There needs to be a sea change in how data is dealt with at digital marketing agencies – and by their clients.
Research shows that marketers in the UK feel left behind by their overseas competitors when it comes to analysing and exploiting data.
UK marketers are least likely of any country to view their company’s use of data and analytics as more advanced than competitors, or consider their marketing leadership as progressive in this area, according to research from DataXu.
Additionally, only 24% of marketers in the UK believe their marketing leadership is very advanced, falling way behind the likes of Germany, where 40% feel that marketing leadership is cutting-edge.
It’s clear there is a data gap which needs bridging –business intelligence will prove to be a major source of answers for agencies and brands alike.