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4 Keys to Data-Driven Marketing, According to Deloitte CMO Alicia Hatch

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Halfway through my panel this week at Collision, the fast-growing tech conference in New Orleans, the moderator told the audience he wished he wasn’t moderating so he could tweet what was being said.

But it wasn’t anything I said. Not even close. Instead, he was referring to the wisdom of Alicia Hatch, the dynamic CMO of Deloitte.

I felt the same way. And when I finally got in front of my computer before for my flight back to New York, I couldn’t wait to share four crucial insights Hatch shared during our panel.

1. There’s a big difference between data and insights

Hatch was quick to point something that marketers sometime forget: Data and insights are not the same thing. Data is just the collection of information. Insights are research and findings that inform your big creative ideas.

Data-driven marketing, she argued, is about optimizing campaigns once they’re already in market. “Being data-driven is more about optimization than validation,” she explained.

2. Looking at data doesn’t mean you’re making data-driven decisions

During our discussion, Hatch offered another crucial distinction: You may have a spreadsheet in front of you while you’re working, but that doesn’t automatically mean you’re making a data-driven decision.

“While we’re so much more data driven than we used to be when we operated in the black box of marketing, we’re only at the beginning,” Hatch said. “We’ve learned in the last ten years of neuroscience that decision-making is largely emotional. We give ourselves a lot of credit as rational creatures, but our decisions are mostly driven by emotion.”

We need to move beyond marketing metrics to business metrics

We still have a ways to go in retraining ourselves to truly incorporate data into the choices we make as marketers. But accepting that emotion impacts our decision-making is an important first step.

3. It’s about more than the stack

As the CMO of one of the world’s leading consultancies, Hatch has a rare window into the minds of fellow CMOs.

“The thing I’ve noticed the most when I talk to CMOs is that they have all the technology to make this happen,” she said. “They’ve got a shiny stack as tall as the sky. They’ve got all this data at their fingertips. And yet, the organization doesn’t know how to use it effectively.”

Hatch’s point serves as an important reminder: Technology doesn’t solve your problems on its own. Your company needs a culture of digital fluency and people who actually know how to use that shiny new stack.

4. You need to go beyond marketing metrics

“The board is tired of hearing about marketing metrics,” Hatch declared. “The CEO couldn’t care less about marketing metrics. We need to move beyond marketing metrics to business metrics because CMOs are now operating as growth drivers. They are looked to for top-line revenue.”

Hatch noted that 68 percent of CMOs are now owning profit-and-loss items, meaning they are increasingly asked to wear a business hat in the board room. The CMOs who fail to make the transition may soon find themselves on the way out. But those who take after Hatch will be incredibly valuable as leaders. Plenty of people are looking at data, but only a select few know what to do with it.

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