Data-driven marketing is becoming the de facto standard; with over 74% of marketers* expect to increase budgets on data marketing. This statistic pops few critical questions to me as a marketer: (a) If our marketing plans are data-driven? and (b) How to write one?
A deeper read of analyst reports reveals the areas where data-driven marketing is currently in practice. Data is used to arrive at new product strategy, special offer creation & targeting, and to track customer support experience. Data usage to devise yearly marketing plans and budgets are yet to catch up. Augentia consultants reviewed many marketing plans and found they are based on,
- A rehash of past year’s plan & budgets by simply asking for a % increase or
- As a thumb-rule, marketing budgets are taken as a % of overall revenue, and the marketing plans are accommodated within it. It is also referred to as Marketing Budget Ratio (MBR). Many analyst reports, such as the recent CMO survey 2016 budgets++, feeds to this thumb rule, by stating the average marketing spend %.
Both these methods are not backed by marketing and sales data, or learning from past experiences.
Instead, a data-driven marketing plan focuses on past year’s performance, market opportunities to tap, dropping non-performing campaigns of yester-years while adding new / improved ones, and demonstrate how 1$ marketing investments multiplies into x$ of revenue, with a ROMI** framework.
As marketers or business people, if you think marketing plans to be data-driven, I encourage you to read this article. We will discuss 5 simple steps to write a data-driven marketing plan, and provide a template to write one.
Step1: Assemble your Data (The facts to drive your plan)
It is a quick one, if you follow a structured approach, as below.
If you do not have historic data, you may consider taking industry leader or contender’s data, by performing a competitor analysis.
Step 2: Tell your Story and Align (Get your stakeholders’ support)
Get your storyline straight and simple.
lot has been written on marketing story telling, for external audience.
Your internal stakeholders are critical audience too, as they need to
- Understand your plan and
- Collaborate effectively.
Understand the business priorities of your team members, and weave your story tightly aligned.
Use of relevant quotes, images, and illustrations will help narrating your story.
Step 3: Make your choices (The data-driven recommendations)
The data assembled will give you key insights to make your choices. Which campaign to continue, the products to focus on, the must-attend events, the most lucrative buyer persona, and the new channels to be present, are few critical questions to ask.
A simple table as above may help to narrate your reasons for recommendations.
Step 4: Decide your metrics (The ROMI framework)
A recent survey confirms, about 80% of businesses measure leads generated by marketing campaigns, while 63% prefer to link it all the way to revenues.
Check the norms followed by your organization and by the industry, and pick the appropriate metrics and key performance indicators (KPI). These metrics should showcase the ‘marketing impact’ on business goals. Aligning the marketing efforts to the organizational objectives and demonstrating the contribution is key. The return on marketing investment (ROMI) framework is good, and setting it for your business is a critical step.
Step 5: Pick a Data-driven Marketing Plan Template (Get a quick one)
A simple Google search+ shows over 231,000 results for a ‘Marketing plan template’. A similar search for ‘data-driven marketing plan template’ shows only 4 links (out of which 1 is for a training, and 3 are ads).
As a marketer, I felt the need to develop one. And here it is, presented as a free template for our fellow marketers, and business people.
*Source: Global review of data-driven marketing by surveying 3000 marketers, GlobalDMA and the Winterberry Group, 2015
++The CMO survey on 2016 marketing budgets: B2B companies on an average planned for 7-9% of revenue, as marketing budgets
**ROMI – Return on Marketing Investments
+ Exact phrase search