Data analysis is no longer only a success indicator of your own output. It has become a crucial tool for listening to your audiences. Listen to Inka Finne who drives key European and global communications programmes for multinational clients at EMG, Eurocom Worldwide's member agency in Benelux & China.
Despite the volume of available data and growing investment in technologies like AI, the adoption of data-driven strategies and digital transformation has been lagging behind.
Research shows that the B2B sector has been especially slow to transform on a data-driven trajectory. According to recent studies from McKinsey "digital leaders in B2B achieve up to five times the revenue growth and up to eight times the EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) growth of their peers. But so far, only one in three companies has deployed digital solutions at scale".
However, the same studies show that when digital leaders in B2B get going "they pull out all the stops". The current crisis is expected to finally force businesses to prioritise the solving of their remaining digitalisation and data-related issues. This is good news for communicators, as it will be a major step forward in getting better data to evaluate the impact of their marketing communications efforts.
The COVID-19 crisis accelerates change
The possibilities and demands for quantifying, measuring and evaluating marketing communications have been growing steadily over the past decade. With the digital transformation of our businesses, communications and purchasing, the organisational silos between market research, business analytics, sales, and (marketing) communications are slowly but surely tumbling down. This has been a positive development for improving the measurement and evaluation practice of marketing communications. But we have still been hampered by several data-related problems, including inadequate or incomparable data, as well as a lack of standards and processes.
The COVID-19 crisis has been forcing most business communicators and purchasers away from trade show floors and airport lounges, to fully relying on the digital sphere. Such has been the impact of the recent step-change, that we may never return to the old ways. The result is a complete change in mindset that is pushing our creativity and speed of innovation like never before. We are effectively having to build and sustain relationships and businesses digitally, and discover what works and what doesn’t in the "new normal". And navigating in this changed business environment requires careful listening to stakeholders to understand their changed needs and behaviour.
Analytics, listening and relevancy
The rise of content-driven marketing and social media gave communicators more data and tools for effective data analytics, and established it as an essential building block of evaluation frameworks. This necessity will only intensify when we have more data – in fact maybe all we will have is data. In marketing communications, it means that the numbers of hits, visitors and engagement – whether for your LinkedIn campaign or virtual event – are more important than ever. As the demand for agility and understanding our operating environment grows, so too does the role for communicators in translating these efforts back into the organisation.
Data itself and effective data analysis will no longer be limited to being a mere success indicator of your own output. Rather, they will become crucial tools for listening to your audiences; the essence of an effective communicator’s job.
From the 16 rising B2B marketing trends listed in a recent overview by Forbes Communication Council, almost all of them were digital, including virtual events and podcasts. Even more importantly, the trends list emphasised the importance of listening and data analysis. In a nutshell, it illustrates that a successful strategy begins with mastering the soft sell and hyper relevancy (i.e. keeping an ear to the ground; knowing exactly what audiences are thinking and care about; crafting the message for that moment). It develops further in terms of heavily personalized communications, tactics like hypertargeting by click segmentation, search/intent analytics and broader predictive analytics. All the while, you must never forget the increasing focus on data privacy.
Data as an organisational priority
Amid the apparently uninterrupted rise of data-driven strategies, solving data related issues is becoming essential to day-to-day operations.
Today’s environment raises several questions, including whether or not you have the right data and data tools in place, and if the data is being used effectively? Then is there one of the most important questions of all: Are internal roadblocks hindering an effective strategy?
As communicators, solving these questions will help us to quantify what we bring to the table. Ultimately, if we are relying on irrelevant or insufficient data, data management tools that don’t fit their purpose, stumbling user experiences and reports that no one looks at, we will not succeed. But if tackling data becomes an organisational priority, we may just be heading towards the breakthrough we need.
At EMG, we are working with our clients to solve their data analytics challenges in marketing communications. Our specialists help communicators to set up the measurement and evaluation frameworks that they require to succeed. It’s all about adopting the right metrics for their campaigns, collecting the data, and then analysing and reporting on it to extract the actionable insights that matter. For example, within the social media realm, we use our tools to monitor what influencers and subject matter experts (SMEs) are posting, for a valuable insight into the category defining discussions.
Building on EMG’s decades of industrial B2B marketing communications experience, we help our clients to look beyond the numbers alone. We pull out the insights they need, so that they get a balanced picture of both the good news and the bad. This will allow them to feed this information back into their organisations in a way that supports their business objectives.
In 2020, EMG joined AMEC (The International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication) as an associate member. We encourage you to take a look into their resources at www.amecorg.com
Want to learn more about how EMG help you create, connect and communicate with data-driven analytics? Get in touch with Inka Finne at EMG today!