Data Driving More Marketing Decisions at Tech Firms, Panel Says

by   |   June 18, 2013 5:59 pm   |   0 Comments

BURLINGTON, Mass.—Greg Donahue, director of marketing programs for Mercury Systems, a maker of electronics for defense systems, had a mission to increase revenue but to do so with a shoestring budget.

Unwilling to take this challenge lying down, he turned to the company’s enterprise data warehouse and the extensive historical record of past conversion rates for turning prospective clients into buyers – and began digging.  Using the data he collected, he was able to make predictions about his team’s future success in conversions and how a bigger marketing budget would help him bring in clients and help the bottom line.  With charts and graphs of his metrics, Donahue showed executives at Mercury why giving him a bigger budget was a smart financial move.  The executives took a look at the data and upped Donahue’s budget by a million dollars.

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“Using metrics helped me to convince executives to give me more budget,” he said.

Donahue told this story as one of five speakers at a June 18 event organized by the Massachusetts Technology and Leadership Council and hosted by Endurance International.  Other speakers included Bernd Leger, vice president of marketing and logistics at Localytics, a provider of marketing analytics for mobile applications; Zorian Rotenberg, vice president of marketing at InsightSquared, which makes analytics for users; Elle Woulfe, vice president of marketing at Backupify, a provider of backup and recovery systems for SaaS applications; and the moderator, Brian Gladstein, CEO of Explorics, a consulting firm for software companies.  One of the key questions for all of the speakers was the relationship between marketing and big data both within the company and outside it.

The panelists agreed that marketing is a field where analytics are becoming more important.  “The days of marketing being not data-centric are over,” said Leger, “If you can’t look at the data and understand it, you won’t do well.”  Rotenberg added that he sees a revolution taking place over the next five to ten years, pushing marketing in the direction of data analytics.

Today’s marketing professionals are introducing the technology and building the groundwork for data-driven marketing, the panelists said. A major challenge, Gladstein said, is the endless amount of data and an endless supply of metrics to measure it with.  To get quality data, Gladstein explained, you need to design the systems around the metrics that need to be tracked.  Donahue added, “The thing to nail down is what you want to know.”

Another key consideration, according to Woulfe, is the amount of resources a company is willing to devote to data-driven marketing.  “This is not robot marketing,” said Woulfe.  A program like HubSpot cannot handle everything, she said.  Marketing analytics has to be someone’s full-time job.

Hiring the right people is also a priority. “We need someone who knows how to ask questions of big data,” Donahue said.  “You need people in marketing who know the analytics.  You almost need more a data analyst than someone with a Wall Street background.”

Jessica Sirkin, a Data Informed staff writer, can be reached at Follow her on Twitter: @JessicaSirkin.

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