How data analysis became the new social media marketing
With every new automation platform, marketing metric and social media site, the day-to-day roles and responsibilities of marketers have grown increasingly complex.
To understand traditional marketing (promoting the right product, in the right place, for the right price) is no longer enough.
Today’s marketers must be experts in everything from SEO, advertising and PR, right through to graphics design. Even basic web coding skills are increasingly becoming a must-have string on marketing’s ever expanding bow.
A few years ago, the big shift in this skillset came in the form of so-called “digital” marketing. Agencies and in-house teams were desperate to hire anyone and everyone who understood which digital platforms were best for their audiences and ultimately unravel the mysteries of the new social media age.
Over time however, the hype of Web 2.0 died down and marketers began to realise that many of the age old principles of their discipline still applied in the digital age. Social media became just another platform through which marketers could communicate their messages and achieve their goals.
Eventually, many digital agencies were absorbed and the so-called experts quickly went back to being a cog in a larger marketing machine.
That was the social media revolution; much hyped, but never fully delivering the transformation that was expected. Now, we have a new marketing revolution, and this time the game is finally set to change.
The marketing revolution
Big data was the buzzword of 2014-2015, with marketers across every sector jumping on the opportunity to understand their customers better, what they want and, ultimately, how they think.
Finally in 2016 with third generation analytics technologies coming forward to make sense of big data, and with more data available than ever before (2.5 quintillion bytes created every day), the potential for genuine change in the marketing landscape has never been greater.
For the first time, marketers have the ability to understand the customer journey and to tailor their products, services and marketing messages to guarantee success.
Regardless of their skill level, marketers must retain control of their data
According to new research from marketing tech providers BlueVenn, 72% of marketers now consider data analysis and management to be the most important skillset for their business to acquire in the next two years.
This places data analysis above social media, web development, graphics design and even search engine optimisation as a core marketing skill.
While it’s clear that data analytics could become the next digital marketing, the problem lies in a lack of knowledge around truly effective, scientific data analysis. While anyone can set up a Twitter account or a Facebook page, the learning curve involved in data analytics can be considerably steeper.
According to BlueVenn, while 99.5% of marketers are now attempting to analyse their customers’ data, two thirds admit that they still can’t accurately calculate the value of their customers.
On top of this, nearly a third (29%) believe that they are being held back by a lack of knowledge or skill in the area of data analysis.
Need for data skills and tech
This skills gap has resulted in a drastic resource drain across marketing departments, with many marketers 'having a go' at data analysis without really knowing what they’re doing.
A third of marketers are now spending 50% of their time simply attempting to analyse data, while 1 in 10 spend over 80% of their time on this one task alone
While there is clearly a lack of appropriate skills behind this drain on marketing resources, the truth is that there doesn’t have to be.
In the same way that social media, email marketing and CRM platforms are designed for maximum usability, data analysis platforms don’t need to be complex for people to use either.
Marketers should not require a degree in data science in order to analyse their customer’s data.
This is the real shift that is required – not an advancement in skillset, but an advancement in technology.
For big data to ever be truly useful, automated platforms and analytics tools are needed that can take the weight off of marketers, simplifying their roles and freeing up their time for more traditional marketing tasks.
Without such intuitive technologies, marketers will be left with a choice between either devoting vast proportions of their time to internal data analysis – or outsourcing that analysis to external departments and costly third party organisations.
As it stands, 27% of marketers have already transferred their data analysis to the IT department, ultimately limiting their access to potentially vital marketing stats and a future long-term resource. A further 6% have outsourced their analysis entirely.
Regardless of their skill level, marketers must retain control of their data. While most marketers will never acquire the knowledge of a true data scientist, with the right analytics and marketing automation platforms in place – they even shouldn’t have to.
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