Data That Makes the Case for Marketing Investment

Every day marketers must demonstrate the value of their work in support of business objectives. To prove the value of our technology and talent investments, we look at transactions/conversions, attribution across channels, and lifetime value of audience segments. Those metrics are driven by marketing data and are often hard to benchmark or demonstrate clearly. To wit: How many thousands of companies still rely on last-click attribution, with full caveat on its limitations?

Access to marketing data is an imperative. As the stewards of consumer data for their organizations, marketers must demonstrate data’s value to their own organizations to ensure that they have enough corporate will, leadership, and budget to protect it and use it responsibly.

Marketers instinctively know the value of marketing data—it’s the fuel that drives relevancy, engagement, response, and ultimately, revenue. However, it’s hard to find the hard, cold facts around what exactly that data is doing for our industry and the economy. New research from the Data-Driven Marketing Institute, a think tank of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), entitled “The Value of Data: Consequences for Insight, Innovation and Efficiency in the U.S. Economy” outlines the scope and flow of data through our Data-Driven Marketing Economy (DDME).

The strength of the DDME helps make marketing more efficient, the authors found. Individual-level consumer data helps marketers optimize expenditure on interactive and direct response marketing, both offline and on. It also reduces inefficiency and increases effectiveness in matching producers and customers. In addition, the DDME improves the accountability of marketing investments.

  • The DDME added $156 billion in revenue to the U.S. economy and fueled more than 675,000 jobs in 2012 alone. The authors believe that this represents about half of all measured media advertising expenditures and direct marketing expenditures in the U.S. in 2012 ($298 billion).
  • The real value of data is in its exchange: 70% of the DDME’s value depends on the ability of firms to exchange data across the DDME. This includes traditional practices to append public or behavioral data, as well as new practices like digital onboarding, which matches digital visitors and buyers with offline profiles.

“Data” in the report isn’t only digital. The study investigated many different sectors and found that various forms of added value, including rented lists of prospects, audience segments assembled by online publishers, personalization of direct mail offers, and all forms of delivery (e.g., USPS sorting machines, Facebook servers, variable data printers). Hence, the authors focus on the “scope” of our data-driven economy, not just the “scale” of it. As marketers, our task is to teach the value of individual data to our business so that we can invest properly, protect it, and steward the responsible use of it. 

Consider the impact of marketing data in:

–          Amplifying knowledge of current customers

–          Accelerating the intelligence used in rapid product/service development

–          Responding to customer inquiries and needs in (near) real-time

–          Rapidly adapting messaging and offers to reflect shifts in consumer sentiment and activity

–          Assessing the need for customized printed production

–          Measuring the value of each media spend

In our increasingly pressured policy environment, where Congress, state legislators, and regulators want to restrict marketers’ use of data for marketing purposes, regulation restricting the responsible use of data would impact innovation, small businesses, jobs, and economic growth, and hence, harm the U.S. Economy, according to the study.

  Stephanie Miller is VP of member relations and chief listening officer at the Direct Marketing Association. She is a relentless customer advocate and a champion for marketers creating memorable online experiences.  A digital marketing expert, she helps responsible data-driven marketers connect with the people, resources, and ideas they need to optimize response and revenue.
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