Welcome to the new, new marketing

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VP of global marketing & product management, Imation Corp.
VP of global marketing & product management, Imation Corp.

From web marketing automation tools to customer relationship management platforms to the old standby in Google Analytics, marketers today have no shortage of ways to access a potential mountain of data about what Web content prospects are accessing, how they progress through the sales funnel, and ultimately, what drives them to buy. There's gold in the data, but too many marketing teams aren't finding it efficiently.

Mining for data

Often marketers' first mistake is underestimating the task they're facing. They ask themselves: Is our perceived wealth of marketing data based on the sheer volume of information and stored data we can access? Or is it the depth of the data—the extreme amount of information around usage and other elements beyond core data that can be harvested? A CMO's reaction usually differs based on how long she has been vested in the field.

Imation sees the new marketing direction as a three-pronged strategy for our organization.

First, we worked to consolidate the various tools we use to relate to our customers and prospects, and to aggregate the data those tools create. Like other companies, Imation's sales and customer fulfillment teams have many moving parts, all of which have separate systems for tracking their progress. Each of these systems has its own data about the customers. Aligning and consolidating the various systems is the first step toward harnessing that data.

Second, we connected basic Web analytics to our marketing efforts. We created a simple process so the marketing team receives reporting based on Google Analytics and other tools that show what website visitors do when they come to imation.com. This data is directly tied into the performance metrics of our marketing exercises, and the feedback contributes to marketing program planning. We also correlate website activity to the demographics of the registered users, which allows us to calculate our effectiveness reaching SMBs facing data storage, data backup, data archiving and data recovery challenges.

Third, we connect the data about how website visitors interact with Web content to data to other systems related to what happens to prospects, and customers, after they visit the web. By drawing on CRM systems and other business intelligence tools, we can connect a lot of dots about our marketing programs. Among other factors, we can determine which programs resonate with specific vertical markets or business challenges.

By consolidating our various systems that collect prospect and customer information and putting in place a system to correlate and evaluate that data, our marketing teams are able to make research-based assessments on how to best reach our target markets.

The science of marketing

A few years ago it was all about the art of marketing: developing a creative idea to connect to a lead. The new marketing organization integrates data analysis.

At Imation, our team includes someone with an advanced degree in statics. This expert in data analysis and interpretation helps my team make strategic decisions about content creation and marketing tactics that will influence Imation's target audiences, who are technology decision makers at growing companies looking for ways to store, protect, and connect to critical information. Our approach works because data analysis is a vital marketing function in today's organizations. The intersection of art and science is helping to make this happen, as we mine the many layers of data at multiple customer touch points across the company.

With this partnership between creatives and analysts, Imation has developed new measurement techniques and processes. Marketing is becoming more analytical as more performance data is available, as best practices are established, and as better analysis tools come to market.

Our statistician colleagues see that their analysis and reporting has a direct strategic impact on the company's bottom line. The analysis gels nicely with the creative processes driven by other elements of marketing. I t reminds the writers and visual creatives among us to think about search engine optimization (SEO) and things like click-through rates when we select concepts that would resonate with our buyers.

Making the switch from manual to automation marketing

It's clear at Imation that Big Data analytics is the next major evolution of B2B technology marketing.

Data is pervasive, and analyzing it is the new challenge—with tremendous upside—facing marketing. We are moving from gigabytes, to terabytes to exabytes and zettabytes; a crushing amount of information. Big Data analytics provides a unique opportunity for CMOs to embrace the information and harness it for competitive advantage. The growing trend of integrating web and BI data analysts with the marketing team shows that the future of marketing will be a balanced state comprised of art and science.

Ian Williams is vice president, global marketing and product management at Imation Corp.

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