4 common problems marketers and data analysts can solve together

Marketers and data analysts have distinct roles, but increasingly they need to work together to overcome obstacles.

Marketers and data analysts see the world in very different ways. Because they are often working together on the same project, this can cause a lot of problems. However, the increasingly complex nature of marketing and the growing need for data-driven insights mean they must find places to work together.

“Because they come from different worlds, there can be some head-butting and some frustration,” said Steve Petersen, marketing technology manager for subscription management platform Zuora, at The MarTech Conference.

Here are four common marketing challenges where marketers and data analysts can help each other .


Media fragmentation and an increasing number of channels

The complex media ecosystem is forcing marketers to run campaigns on an ever-increasing number of channels, including many varieties of social, streaming video, retail media networks, email and more. Not only do marketers need to test different advertising on each of those, they need to know how the channels impact each other.

That’s where marketers need analysts’ methods and insights. Otherwise it’s impossible to put each effort into context and know how the campaign is performing overall.

“Sometimes it’s really hard to isolate one thing and figure out its performance,” said Peterson. “So instead of trying to find out how we can isolate one factor, try to have an educated outlook and work with your data analysts.”

Marketers can bridge the divide with analysts by looking at year-to-year comparisons or by measuring campaign performance together.

External factors that affect marketing programs

It’s not just that marketing functions are using an increasing number of channels. There are also external factors that can impact marketing campaigns and the entire organization to be considered.

As we all know, over the last two years the pandemic and other huge events have radically changed consumer behaviors. Marketers may forget or not know how to factor in the impact this has on campaigns.

“We run into situations where [marketers] forget to take into account external factors that may have had an impact on their performance KPIs,” said Arti Munshi, senior market research manager for National University.

Munshi shared the example of a sporting good company that is impacted by the Olympics. In comparing performance numbers year-over-year, they have to account for what happens in the years the games take place. Also, while the Summer and Winter Games are usually held two years apart, the pandemic pushed them into consecutive years.

“With a period when the Olympic Games wasn’t taking place, marketers definitely aren’t going have an apples-to-apples comparison, and will interpret the data incorrectly,” said Munshi.

This could lead to false expectations for future non-Olympics years, she added.

Adding context to marketing initiatives

Marketers and data analysts should be in a constant dialogue about the data that is needed to help power marketing campaigns. They shouldn’t just be searching for the “what” of data insights, but the “why” that drives these initiatives.

“I would just say that no amount of information is too much information, from personal experience,” said Munshi. “If we can get to the context of the request, the ‘why’ of the problem that we’re trying to solve right at the start, then there are hours of analysts’ work that you can save, initially, just by clearly defining that problem statement.”

If teams are siloed, this will make it harder to come up with the right answers.

“Sometimes information doesn’t flow across all the teams evenly,” said Peterson. “And so a marketer might come to ask the analyst a question, and the analyst might provide an answer that may not be satisfactory, but the analyst may not be aware that [the question originally came from] your sales team.”

Working through limitations

As the marketing landscape continues to transform, there are new limitations that come into play that might not have been relevant a short time ago.

For instance, there might be new privacy regulations that guide how an organization can obtain or use data. This means that marketers and data analysts must be on the same page about the data problems they are trying to solve.

“We now have limitations on certain data points which we didn’t have previously,” said Munshi. “It makes it challenging for marketers in this cookie-less environment to reach out to their consumers on a multitude of platforms. As a result, analysts are now tasked with trying to build personas or continue to target their customers with the same level of accuracy that they did in the past.” 

She added, “This does not mean that it is the end of all of this. We can definitely work together, both the analyst and the marketer, to come to a solution.”

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About The Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.