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IBMs Marketing Science Report: Is Prescriptive Marketing Possible?
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By: Jessica Miller

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May 21st, 2013

IBMs Marketing Science Report: Is Prescriptive Marketing Possible?

Marketing Performance | Marketing Strategy

Marketing-Science-1The possibilities of big data, transforming data into insight, then transforming that insight into actionable intelligence (keyword actionable) is what today’s marketing scientist is all about.

According to IBM’s April 2013 report, Marketing Science: From Descriptive to Prescriptive:

“In this world of big data and tight budgets, marketers everywhere need a more systematic way of capturing and analyzing data, unearthing insights and using those insights to improve business outcomes.” 

The Marketing Science Landscape

Marketers are currently using data in different ways. The IBM report cites 3 uses of data across the marketing science landscape:

  1. Descriptive: Marketers use data to describe what’s happening. It’s where marketers are currently practicing and most comfortable.
  2. Predictive: Data can be interpreted to predict marketing outcomes. (Think “if/then” scenario testing.)
  3. Prescriptive: Data is turned into intelligence, which can recommend strategies and actions based on complex, historical wins. 

State of the CMO

While the implications of big data—and the possibilities of actionable consumer insight and prescriptive intelligence—are powerful, grasping just how to start collecting, organizing and processing data is still seen as a marketing challenge. CMOs are under pressure to make sense of the influx of data.

“… marketers are under intense pressure to show tangible returns on the money they spend. In fact, nearly two-thirds of CMOs expect return on marketing investment to be the primary measure of their effectiveness by 2015.”

— From Stretched to Strengthened: Insights from the Global CMO Study, 2011 

And, according to approximately 700 marketers surveyed by the Direct Marketing Association and Forrester Research in 2012, 68% predict data-related expenses on the rise this year. 

Foundations for Successful Marketing Data, Marketing Science

The move from descriptive to prescriptive marketing hinges on many factors, including (but not limited to) technology, analytic skills, support to test and develop campaigns.

  • Enabled Technology Foundation: Listed first for a reason—actionable intelligence is not possible without the technology in place to track and make sense of digital data. Does your marketing team have access to the latest in marketing analytics, social, engagement and sales technologies? The ability to collect digital customer data starts with a strong website and integrated backend technology that spans the marketing funnel.
  • Drive to Acquire New Skills: Ten years ago marketers weren’t following the latest Google Analytics updates; integrated marketing automation technologies like Marketo, Act-On or HubSpot did not exist. To keep pace with the latest consumer and digital technologies, marketers must commit to continual learning.  
  • Data Savvy: Speaking of new skills, big data is a trend that’s not going away. Consumers are trading personal data for more contextual experiences. In turn, organizations need to step up in the areas of organizing a flood of digital customer data and the turning it into actionable intelligence—a skill 70% of CMOs feel underprepared for, according to IBM’s 2011 CMO study.
  • Strategic Vision, Paired with Real-Time Impact: The influx of digital data and the latest technologies can overwhelm. Successful marketers maintain sights on business and marketing goals, as well as long-term brand story. Smaller, sprint campaigns that draw from real-time data, market trends, and new marketing technologies—while true to overarching vision—can build trust and help test for smaller wins.
  • Freedom to Test and Evolve: Strong company business cores provide the budget, flexibility, strong offering and internal trust that lets marketers function as scientists. 

Rate Your Marketing, and Evolve

How do your organization’s foundations enable your team to function intelligently as marketing scientists?

The Marketing Score assessment covers all the basics, and more. From marketing team talent through technology, the 132 factor assessment covers the foundations as well as the latest marketing skills required for today’s digital consumer and business demands.

Photo Credit: tz1_1zt via Compfight cc

About Jessica Miller

Jessica Miller is VP and managing director of PR 20/20, where she guides strategy and performance, and champions the ongoing pursuit of building a great marketing firm. For more than a decade, Jessica has built lasting partnerships that connect marketing strategy to bottom-line business outcomes. Jessica joined PR 20/20 in 2011 with global agency experience. She is a graduate of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. Full bio.

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