In the last three years, I have spoken with hundreds of digital marketers about their challenges. These conversations usually follow a conference talk or internal course I’ve delivered, in which I promote the ideas in our book Outside-In Marketing: Using Big Data to Guide Your Content Marketing.
The vast majority of the digital marketers I have spoken with in these conversations agree with what needs to be done in their organizations to become more data-driven. But they just can’t do what needs doing. Why? Institutional or cultural blockers at their jobs prevent them from doing it. Here I want to cover the three most common blockers, and give some ammunition to digital marketers to help them clear those blockers.
Marketers don’t just come out and blame budgets for their problems. But they are the root cause. By budgets I don’t mean the lack of funding. I mean common finance rules that dictate how and when they have to spend their budgets. Sometimes marketers have too much funding and struggle to spend it all. Here is a common way they express the problem:
“I’d love to do more organic content clean-up, but I’m too busy spending my paid media budget.”
It might sound ridiculous, but in the land of finance, it’s actually worse to spend less than your budget in a given month or quarter than to go over budget. Why? Because finance will assume you don’t really need the money if you don’t spend it all, and you end up with less than you need the next month or quarter. Some marketers are so freaked out about this, they will direct the agency to go all in at the end of a month or quarter just to spend their money.
But prudent marketers know they have to be diligent about how they spend their money, and, if you must use it or lose it, using it can be a hard problem to solve. At IBM, we created a tool to help marketers manage their budgets in the hopes that this process doesn’t consume the time they need to actually create, curate, and optimize their content experiences.
In the absence of a tool, I would just advise marketers to get off the budget merry-go-round. Put all your paid media funds in programmatic spending, at least temporarily, and focus your efforts on creating excellent customer experiences for your target audiences. At base, budget problems are manifestations of misplaced priorities. It makes no sense to buy eyeballs and send them to irrelevant experiences. But once you have good customer experiences, you can begin judiciously spend your media budgets by driving eyeballs to your great customer experiences.
Another common issue is ownership. People tell me all the time that they can’t use the data to make decisions because some executive insists on approving everything they publish. More often than not, data-driven decisions are rejected by executives who don’t trust the data. So the marketers don’t even bother to use data. Why use data if it only creates Go to the full article.