It’s Time to Democratize Data for Everyone in Your Marketing Organization
How analytics bridges the roles of art and science.
One day everyone will be a part-time data scientist — at least that’s the hope as data science and artificial intelligence (AI) become more integrated into marketing tools and technologies. Today’s marketers and business leaders need to leverage technologies that use algorithms and statistics on the back end to drive more marketing efficiency — all without requiring a high level of technical expertise.
Imagine for a moment you’re the CEO of a fast-growing startup. You sit down at your desk one morning and receive an “intelligent alert” saying “Revenue decreased!” from your software, which uses algorithms, machine learning, and neural networks — all various forms of AI — to keep tabs on your company’s data.
You feel panic rise and realize with a sense of dread that your data analyst is on vacation for a week. Then you notice a link in the alert that says, “Analyze and run a contribution analysis.” So you click it, and in no time you have an explanation: a social media advertising campaign ran out of budget, and, due to its settings, had been turned off without notifying anyone.
Now it’s clear what to do. You call the marketing department, authorize additional budget, and have them turn the campaign back on. Revenue starts going back up. You take a massive breath. If you’re wearing a belt, you’d likely be loosening it.
This is the power of tools that have embedded data science. A CEO doesn’t need to know that the alert that came across the screen was a product of 28 different predictive algorithms working together to detect anomalies. This process allows brands to identify irregularities, spikes, and dips in data and determine why a specific metric has changed. Users of such tools can ignore the algorithms and statistics that are working behind the scenes, so your experience of these complex, high-tech tools can be as straightforward as receiving an alert, clicking a link, and getting some useful information to act on.
Marketers, you can be more data-driven
The ability to skip over the steps required to analyze masses of data, test hypotheses, and iterate solutions is not only a huge time-saver, but also works in your favor as an early warning system for a variety of problems. This canary in the coalmine has inestimable business value. In the case of our stalled campaign, an automated anomaly detection not only uncovered the problem far before it otherwise would have been noticed, but the alert enabled swift corrective action that would have taken hours of manual analysis to recommend.
As a marketer, you’re not only expected to launch creative campaigns, you’re expected to drive results. But you need data to accomplish this. And when you haven’t been trained as a data scientist, this can be a significant challenge. On the upside, however, more and more tools are coming to market that allow marketers to be data-savvy without being data experts. Here are three key ways AI is democratizing data for marketers.
1. AI templates provide pre-built analyses
The most efficient way that workplace tools can use data is to incorporate pre-built features that proactively inform you or other business users of actionable information. For example, templates can easily provide more insight into topics marketers are curious about, such as mobile acquisition, the product purchasing cycle, and content consumption patterns. The ideal is to have a system so business-ready that users can simply drag and drop their data into a template and get an almost immediate answer to a range of questions. It’s analysis at the speed of thought.
Templates help marketers bridge art and science to create something both graceful and extremely useful. The result is so elegant, in fact, that the word people often use — “reports” — just isn’t sufficient. They’re more like dynamic projects, pre-built workspaces, appealing visualizations, or refined tables. But they’re definitely not just reports.
2. Curated data environments aid custom AI-powered analyses
Even more elegant, custom templates provide marketers with tools that leverage AI and data science to curate how their data will be analyzed and therefore provide the most salient information for each situation. Custom templates — with metrics defined by an organization’s analytics teams — can serve as starter projects for new users so that they don’t have to begin an analysis from scratch. They can easily break down and apply data into different dimensions and segments to curate their own view, and more easily answer questions about customer loyalty, retention, and more.
A combination of pre-built templates and custom curation is a massive benefit to users who want both ease of use and options that can be geared toward a particular business function or need. This curated and templated environment will help ensure democratization of both data and data science-powered tools.
3. AI allows you to easily compare data segments
Marketers can easily compare any two groups of users, such as new users versus returning users, purchasers versus non-purchasers, and display-driven customers versus paid-search-driven customers. Once compared, it’s easy to quickly identify the cause for drop-off in the purchase funnel — a main benefit of segment comparison. For example, comparing people who dropped off the customer journey to those that did progress, and then identifying the pages they accessed, is an important information set that you can take action on. It’s also another example of the way in which data science can help you optimize your campaigns and increase your marketing effectiveness.
Empowering “citizen-data scientists”
Marketing analytics tools are only worth their salt if they are easily adoptable to business users who aren’t necessarily analysts and are far from being data scientists. One of the ways to increase the value of these tools is to make data as visually compelling as possible. Incorporating powerful visualization options accessible to non-analysts can help an organization drive business value by democratizing the process of expressing company data.
Visualizations help cultivate “citizen-data scientists” so that everyone in an organization has the opportunity to enhance their everyday activities with insightful data.
With the help of AI, you can be much more proactive in your marketing decision making, sometimes by doing something as simple as clicking a link or dragging and dropping information across an interface. These might seem like small tasks, but they’re key to taking advantage of the power of data science in ways that will hugely benefit your business.
This article originally appeared in InfoWorld.