From the Data Deniers to the Data Forward, your organization is on this chart. The marketing race will go to the most data-enriched organizations. Time for a look in the mirror.

There are some who can read well enough to navigate a cookbook. Some can write a lengthy treatise on a complex subject. Some can pen an eloquent illumination of comparison between Shakespeare, Marlowe and Milton. They are all literate, but to varying degrees. The illiterate have trouble filling out an application for unemployment benefits.

Some have a sufficient understanding of data to navigate a dashboard, confident that they will not be deceived. Some are knowledgeable enough to manipulate the data directly; capturing, cleaning, and integrating it to disco

ver useful correlations. Still others can create self-learning systems that find patterns and anomalies, and determine how best to take action. They are all literate, but to varying degrees. The data illiterate are going to find it more difficult getting along in the world of marketing.

Becoming a Data Enabled Marketing Organization

The data illiterate cringe when charts and graphs appear, convinced that their performance is being judged. The data savvy are deeply curious. Given a chart, graph or report, the data literati immediately begin asking questions. They don’t take results at face value. They want to know a little more. And then a little more. They see data as a window, rather than a brick wall.

It takes a cultural change to become a data-enriched organization. If top executives achieved residence in their corner offices through good luck, good timing, and great instincts, it will be tough to convince underlings to rely on data, much less let data speak for itself.

If, however, the people at the top are happy to listen to anybody’s opinion as long as it’s valida

ted by solid data, the rest of the firm will follow suit and make a point of having the numbers to back them up.

Spreading the joy of experimentation will also turn an aircraft-carrier-sized organization. This requires a willingness to fail in order to learn. The person who tries something and fails, but has no resulting data about the effort, has no opportunity to learn. The one who fails and learns from it is on the path of continuous improvement.

When an organization understands that failure is valuable, embodies it, and promotes learning, data literacy becomes as necessary as breathing to keep the paychecks coming.

So where is your organization on the Marketing Data Literacy Spectrum?

Marketing Data Literacy Spectrum

From antagonist to enthusiast, every company has a data intelligence personality. Where is yours?

Data Denier

Trapped in the Mad Men era of seat-of-the-pants advertising executives, these folks sincerely believe in doing things the good old way. They are creative, intuitive, instinctual, sensitive, shrewd. Super Bowl for the win! To them, data gets in the way of imagination and inspiration. Data is a dirty word. If your organization acts this way, run, do not walk, over to the Digital Analytics Association Job Board!

Data Agnostic

Data might be important but it’s somebody else’s job. These people can tell if things are going well and they feign a mild interest in charts and graphs. They are not antagonistic, but they’d much rather spend more money on branded search terms than more analytics tools. “Data driven? No thanks, I’m fine. But you go right ahead if it makes you feel better.”

Data Aware

This cohort knows they are behind the eight-ball. They’ve read the in-flight magazines and seen data on the cover of everything from Time to The Economist to Reader’s Digest. Still, they haven’t found the time to reads any of the articles. They’re just too darned busy running down the road to jump into the car.

Data Literate

The Data Literate are a tricky bunch. They talk a good game and can navigate the first few screens of Google Analytics. They manage a handful of Key Performance Indicators and can even explain Cloud Computing to their parents. But there is a tipping point between knowing and doing. These people make the right noises but it’s hard to tell if they have actually embraced a data lifestyle or just like wearing the clothes.

Data Capable

Email personalization, search engine optimization, A/B-split tests, and customer segmentation are up and running. The Data Capable have grabbed on with both hands and are optimizing specific marketing functions with people, process, technology, and data. They make it possible for the CMO to say, “Yes, of course we have a full Conversion Rate Optimization program in place and form-abandonment analysis. We can even account for seasonality, geo-targeting and social media influencers.” But the CMO admits that Customer Lifetime Value is tough nut to crack and that they’re only using Net Promoter Score so far.

Data Gifted

The Analytics Center of Excellence has been up and running for some time. Hub-and-spoke support of all marketing efforts ensures best practices sharing across the enterprise. New tools are centrally evaluated for a smooth roll-out to the most receptive business units first. Data governance is de rigueur and data-enabled marketing automation is par for the course. Data stewards are in place for every data stream; cross-device traffic is well in hand; data-enabled marketers are acting as change agents.

Data Savvy

These people are leading the way. They have mastered the pain of data collection, cleaning, and munging, and have a firm grasp of GDPR. They are experimenting with machine learning for customer segment look-alike prospecting, hyper-personalization and loyalty augmentation. They have the budget, the will and the talent to master the basics and innovate at the edge.

Data Forward

Pushing the outside of the envelope! The Data Forward are killing it with data and showing the rest of us what tomorrow may bring. These are the ones I want on the Marketing Evolution Experience stage, showing you how they did it.

Call to Action

Wherever your organization may be on the Data Intelligence Spectrum, get them to the next level by forwarding this email and to the Marketing Evolution Experience.


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