Customer Centricity & Analytics Blog

The Crisis of CMO Leadership in Data-Driven Marketing

Data hell

It is Sunday morning and you, the analyst, are just beginning to review and assemble the data pulls that will get pushed out on Sunday night for the Monday morning executive report. Blocks in Excel need to be debugged. Data is missing from a different source. You go through an immense amount of sweat and toil to get the report out. Sadly, the data is only glanced at. Perhaps a few lackluster questions are asked. And next week it begins all over again.

The cost of wasting all of our time. People must be charged to take action. (Value of time / blue ocean?)

Most corporations continue to ask for "actionable reports" under the assumption that a new visualization or a new KPI or simply adding more data sources will create easy-to-follow insights from the data. This is like going to the grocery store and expecting to be Top Chef because you chose some fancy ingredients and arranged them on a pretty plate. To cook the data with skill and finesse, we need executive leadership in the kitchen. Yes, Chef!

Executive Leaders Must Translate Corporate Goals to Digital

This is where a lot of fuzziness passes for digital strategy. Most marketers within an organization would be hard pressed to tell you how their search marketing campaign actually ladders up to the corporate objective. Vague goals such as "improve our brand perception" or "xxx" are leftovers from the non-digital days. We can measure so much more now!

Amazon does a really nice job of crystallizing the company's customer focus into its mission, including the four primary customer types: "We seek to be Earth’s most customer-centric company for four primary customer sets: consumers, sellers, enterprises, and content creators."

Let's look at how this clarity creates a change in the "actionable report" our analyst friend is struggling to produce. With 4 customer sets, I can easily match the goals and data sources that are relevant to each. I can break them down by use cases (that is, people who are trying to do a specific task. Were they successful? Why or why not?). And I can align each case to data that support the stage of their relationship with me. Further, when a use case is not successful, I have a specific action to follow.

Compare these reports:

Facebook likes / website visits / Search impressions


Consumers who regularly buy books but rarely other products

Sellers who ....

Now my report is about by people. Some are customers. Some are sellers. But all are my audience and worthy of analytic reports.


Let's look at how this carries through to our reporting example at the start.

  1. Letting us down by not translating corporate strategy into clear marketing goals.
  2. Doing themselves a disservice by not understanding the fundamentals of digital.

Reports that do not drive action are the symptom. The root cause is further upstream in what I am calling a crisis of senior analytic leadership. Strategy only comes from one place, senior leadership. In this case, the CMO.

Book Review: Naked Statistics . . . Aka How Not to Kill People with Statistics How to Make it Rain Money in Digital Marketing

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