How Marketers Use Business Intelligence Intelligently

Business intelligence users who want to improve their marketing performance through the use of the technology need to follow some specific steps in order to be successful, according to a new report from Aberdeen Group, Measuring Market Performance: The BI Roadmap to Nirvana. "Improvement of marketing performance, and specifically the ability to pinpoint the drivers and detractors for performance, is the holy grail of marketing organizations," said David Hatch, research director of Aberdeen's Business Intelligence Practice, in a written statement. "The ability to analyze performance across all activities and generate improved results defines the 'information nirvana' marketers are looking for. Traditionally, companies have taken a hit-or-miss or 'let's do what worked before' strategy toward developing and executing their marketing initiatives and campaigns. As the pressure to improve performance has increased and budgets have come under close scrutiny, organizations are now faced with finding new ways to make marketing activity more effective, efficient, and yield higher return." According to Hatch, most firms take a very "CRM-centric" view of marketing performance, but fail to address the measurement of strategic and product-oriented activities. Alignment between marketing and sales goals -- combined with an analysis of sales force effectiveness -- helps staffers in each of the two departments better understand customer needs, segmentation, and buying patterns. Aligning sales goals with marketing activities is one of the key steps to getting better results from BI data, according to Hatch. He said the disconnect between marketing and sales is common among the firms that Aberdeen interviewed. Another problem that some companies face, Hatch noted, is that they have yet to integrate a culture of analytical and statistical measurement into marketing activities. Beyond establishing the culture, it's also critical to know what to measure and what the expected standards are. By establishing marketing goals and key performance indicators at the beginning
of a marketing initiative, managers can show top executives if a campaign is performing as expected. Such measures are critical to justify subsequent budget outlays and future campaigns. Hatch also recommends that firms:
  • Improve the timeliness of marketing performance information. Sixty-one percent of best-in-class firms have closed the gap between actual business activity and availability of information. More timely access to this information provides a marketing advantage: a campaign's ability to quickly incorporate -- and adapt to -- customer response.
  • Elevate the role of marketing within the organization. More than one-third (36 percent) of best-in-class companies indicate that establishing marketing's value to the enterprise is a top element driving marketing performance management activity.

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