Book Review – The Analytical Marketer – How to transform your marketing organization by Adele Sweetwood

Posted on: January 9, 2017
The analytical marketer – how to transform your marketing organisation by Adele Sweetwood

Health warning: This book “The Analytical Marketer – How to transform your marketing organization” by Adele Sweetwood is for serious marketers who are faced with adapting their marketing organisations to embrace the exciting (albeit a little bit scary) transformation being driven by the advances in marketing technology and automation.  

This is an expanded review of the one that is published in Professional Marketing magazine http://www.pmforum.co.uk/magazine/

I was keen to read this book which I thought would be about the latest marketing technology and marketing automation. However, it isn’t a tech book. It is effectively a what-we-did case study and story to introduce analytical marketing into a sophisticated marketing organisation (SAS – one of the leading providers of analytics software) with references to other marketing leaders such as Lenovo, Visa and Comerica Bank.

As I started reading, I feared that if such an advanced technology company had such a tough time promoting the culture change (that old buy-in chestnut) to adopt analytics wholeheartedly then data-starved professional service firms didn’t stand a chance. However, the book is an interesting case study and there are plenty of nuggets hidden in the candid disclosures in this relatively short book.

B2B vs B2C client experience

In the introduction, there is a recognition that B2B marketers are generally less data and analytics-oriented than are consumer marketers. And also the acknowledgement that there is simply too much data to analyse too quickly for a human to do it – thus setting the stage for cognitive technologies and the need for data scientists to help us optimise, model and predict customer behaviour. And agile enough to make changes quickly.

The book starts with the statement “Data and analytics are changing how organisations can understand, predict, shape and continually enhance their customers’ experience”. It says that the best marketers today have “a keen sense of and clear focus on the demands of the customer”.

It was disappointing that the importance of looking after existing customers (“relationships marketing”) doesn’t appear until page 109 (of 160). 

Change management process

The book’s promise is to provide a unique guide that combines marketing analytics, data analytics and organisational management.

The process for transforming the marketing organisation is outlined early on:

  • Mind-set – from reactive to proactive
  • Structure – from silos to convergence
  • Talent – from traditional to modern
  • Leadership – from responsive to agile

Omni-channel marketing

It’s a bit repetitive at the start. It dismisses the “spray and pray” and “peanut butter” approaches to marketing and reminds us that customers do not distinguish between offline and online (“omni-channel”) and that we need data to guide our instincts.

“By the time a customer engages with your company they have travelled through almost 60% of their decision journey” – I’m not sure that same applies to PSF but the author argues that the use of analytics – and agility – could be the competitive differentiator of the future.

It’s good to see a clear mapping of the SAS customer journey. Although again, I wasn’t sure whether such simplicity could apply to PSFs. But it was reassuring to know that tools exist to tailor messages to the different stages of the decision journey. And the author shares the stages SAS went through on the analytics transformation journey: scoring, segmentation, automation and analytics. They refined the content strategy to cover client journey phases including: need, research, decide, adopt, use and recommend.

Data strategy

The book then moves onto the data strategy (volume, source, complexity, structure, quality, relevance and integration). The author admits that prior to SAS’s transformation to a data mart (100 data elements from four key sources – protected by “the data oath”) life was mostly “dozens of spread sheets”.

There is a big focus on what their customers were doing on their web site – coining Customer Experience Analytics (CXA) and building a profile of their pipeline for both on and offline behaviours. I admit that – as a consumer – I started to become slightly concerned when I saw how a digital footprint of almost every online action can be built and used by sophisticated organisations to achieve “campaign agility” and tailor your experience based on behaviour and demographics.

From reactive to proactive

From Mad Men to Math Men was a neat way to highlight the radical change of approach amongst marketing staff “Executives are demanding data literacy”. The mind set shift is how our intuition is now informed by data and analytics. I liked their approach to referrer management or advocacy by using data to identify their BFFs.

The author defined shifting from reactive to proactive  as “create the future rather than just being weighed down by the past”.

Integrating marketing and sales

The material on attribution and pathing certainly made me think. The integration of marketing and sales (or lack thereof) is one of my bug bears. There were interesting insights into how to use profile and behaviour information to decide when to hand over a lead from marketing to sales team or divert them into a nurture programme (and evaluate ROI on events). Later in the book there is strong data on calculating the ROI of marketing.

Overcoming silos

The chapter on realigning your structure – from silos to convergence – will resonate with professional service firms: Moving from channel-to-channel to channel-converged customer-defined messaging. “Clients expect us to join the dots”. It’s implication for go-to-market strategies were clear and there was a useful model included.

I liked the frequent practical exercises (“applying these ideas to your organisation”), providing a tool-box of questions for marketing leaders to apply to their organisations.

There were good insights into how to integrate internal silos through the creation of “digitize the business” councils, partnering with IT, building an analytics portal, bridging the gap between marketing and sales, educating sales teams on social selling and the creation of new roles such as integration analyst and client manager.

Future marketing careers – talent, skills and leadership

The analogy of the marketer as an orchestrator rang true.

There are pointers to establishing shared marketing services including: content and communication, digital and creative, analytics and reporting, event planning and logistics and customer contact. And there’s an interesting content framework unifying content strategy, content creation and content marketing.

There’s guidance on how to develop a lead qualification system with interesting material on analysing chat transcripts and text analytics to understand customer sentiment.

The final chapters address how to build talent and skills. “We know pure data people rely more on the left side of their brain, while more classically trained marketers are more right-brained”. The skills identified included: sales, social media, journalism, storytelling, process design, data/analytics, domain expertise, collaboration, exceptional communication, creativity and innovation and leadership.

The author has created many new roles in her organisation and four new categories of job: digital marketing, content marketing, marketing science and customer experience and provided help in how to interview analytical marketers. There are some helpful sample job descriptions at the end.

There’s a great quote for leaders here: “a constant balancing act between not being complacent and not freaking out about the constant, overwhelming sense of change” and direction to rethink your role as a leader, innovator and influencer and giving people permission to fail.

The benefits

And we do all this because “the impact of marketing analytics results in a more intelligent marketer and a better customer experience”. The author reports conversion rates on outbound marketing has tripled (now at 20% and 30%) and associated communication costs are dropping. SAS now ask for just six critical pieces of information before people download material.

My conclusion

All marketing leaders need to understand the seismic shift occurring in the digitisation of marketing and thus the impact on the client journey – the book starts by pointing to “the transformation of the marketing function”. And that transformation is, in the main, about accountability and measureable results.

All those with a marketing career need to understand how their roles will shift over time – or the new roles that will be available – and develop the new skills to be ready to make the transition. So whilst it might make uncomfortable and difficult reading to see the lessons for professional service marketing, I think the book is an important one.

Whether we like it or not, the book provides a clear vision of the future of marketing. It’s one where analytics rule. Analytics has come of age and true marketing accountability is here.

Contents

  • Introduction
  • The customer decision journey has changed
  • Adopting an analytical mind-set
  • Realigning your structure
  • Building talent and skills
  • Leading the analytical organisation
  • Conclusion
  • Sample job descriptions

Definitions

At SAS (the book is written by its marketing director), they define the customer experience as the perceptions and interactions a customer may have with an organisation.

Metrics are a standard of measurement that serve as an integral component of accountability.

Analytics, on the other hand, become necessary when data is needed to answer specific business-related questions.

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