Brian Kastelein, Director of Data and Analytics, Connelly Partners

As customer touchpoints have proliferated and the cost of capturing, processing, and storing data has become increasingly efficient, the race for data has accelerated and fueled an often unspoken ethos among many marketers that the one with the most data wins. This unrelenting pursuit of ever-expanding volumes of data, however, is often dangerous to customer relationships, not to mention an expensive drain on corporate resources. More data often just means more “noise” and serves to distract from data that can be truly actionable in cultivating customer relationships in ways that drive positive business outcomes.

One way to avoid placing a premium on data for data’s sake is to focus on the collection and classification of data that are directly relevant to the customer journey. From creative concepting to media planning to customer activations, data should ideally serve a dual purpose of generating outputs that quantify and measure results, as well as an input, in the form of actionable insights, that inform and shape future planning.

If data is to fulfill this high calling, cross-team alignment on process is essential. At Connelly Partners, working within the context of clear customer objectives and corresponding campaign measurement plans, the collaboration that exists amongst the creative, media, and analytics teams to develop shared creative and placement naming conventions, as well as standardized campaign taxonomies and tracking specifications is fundamental to our approach.

These are the building blocks that enable more seamless integration of disparate campaign data sources (e.g., media platforms, websites, call centers, etc.), more automated aggregation of results, more powerful visualizations of trends, and more substantive and actionable insights for improving customer engagement and business outcomes.

That said, process alignment and cross-team collaboration alone will not ensure that data can be leveraged to its full potential. Leadership commitment to supporting the right team with the right skills, as well as a foundational set of tools and infrastructure, are corresponding critical success factors. 

Yet here again, the emphasis and focus should be on leveraging data against the backdrop of improving the overall customer journey. Too many organizations over invest in tools or human resources to manage ever-expanding volumes of data that never contribute to improving customer relationships or business outcomes. 

Best of breed tools and teams of highly credentialed data scientists come at a price. Organizations that see the accumulation of data as a goal in and of itself, will only see the expense side of this financial equation and consistently fall short of realizing a return on their investment.

To that end, our work at Connelly Partners is firmly rooted in a belief that data itself is not a competitive differentiator. Rather, it is how a company strategically combines process, people, and technology to make its data actionable against the customer journey that will determine its competitive advantage and ultimately drive positive business results.