As part of our industry expert series, we caught up with Ellen Valentine, Martech expert and Managing Partner of Marketing Action Network, on the increasingly fragmented data challenges and the connected state of our marketing data.

As a fellow marketer, I know we have all been working incredibly hard over the last decade.  We’ve gone from running a manual operation, relying on branding and advertising to generate awareness – perhaps with an Excel spreadsheet or four for project management, tracking and reporting – to a time when we are using a multitude of software solutions to accomplish the operations of the business of marketing.  A simple proof is the explosion of the Martech application portfolio from just 150 solutions in 2011 to more than 7,000 available today.  We’ve automated, systematized, project managed, and socialized our way to using so many different tools – really working hard to make sure our tech stack is complete.

With More Tools Comes More Data – and Fragmentation

With those tools (and the modern buyer) come data … an explosion of data within each application.  Some MarTech vendors have done a good job of including a reporting module within their application to run operational reporting on opens, clicks, followers, leads and more.  These reports can yield insight into how to better improve within each team, channel or specialized function.  Some tools and reporting practices can help pinpoint opportunities for process and creative improvement too.

The Missing Link

What is missing is a comprehensive, connected view of marketing data.  It is only through looking across all your applicable systems (not just MarTech) and integrating all the customer and prospect data from step one of the journey through retention and upsell that you can get the profound insights that can really transform your operations … and your marketing impact.  Leading companies are even finding that access to integrated data can be a linchpin for digital transformation.

For a deeper dive into the benefits of connected data for marketers, download our latest eBook: Better Together: The Power of Connected Data. It’s also full of pro tips on assessing your MarTech integrations.

A Band-Aid

Some of us have attempted to Band-Aid the fragmented data and applications by hiring business analysts who spend their entire day in Excel, knitting together data from a bunch of different operational systems – and for many bringing that into a reporting application.  While these solutions might be great job security for the analyst, they aren’t optimal for running your business, and are fraught with risk of human error

Successfully porting customer and prospect data during the initial installation of a new marketing, sales or revenue application has been accomplished by many.  We may have even used the vendor-supplied integration capabilities (APIs, services) to tie data from two systems together.  That is certainly a good start.  But easy access to the right prospect and customer data from all your applicable systems SHOULD be a goal that can be accomplished efficiently and effectively.  After all, the current state of marketing hinges on the ability to first connect to, then report on the customer journey and efficacy of every dollar of marketing spend.

About that Request to IT

It’s very common that IT teams don’t have robust processes for maintaining data connectivity and access after an initial installation or integration project.  They simply wait until they hear that the integration is not working or the data needed is inaccessible, and then put their heads down in crisis mode, working overtime to remediate.

The Alternative

Instead of relying on IT to develop, test, deploy and maintain data source and application connectivity, both IT and marketing need new approaches to the worthy goal of connected customer and prospect data.

Before you embark on another data or application integration project, wouldn’t it make sense to look holistically at ‘the business of data’ to determine where you are, what you need today and what you want for the future?  If you take a systematic approach to inventorying your situation, you’ll be sure to spot opportunities for better insights, better collaborations among your teams, and even better visibility to the impact of the teams’ efforts and the organization’s marketing spend. In essence, set the stage to ensure your marketing data not only measures up, but also makes a difference.

We all know that profound insights can have the ability to transform not only our department but also the entire company.   So now is the time to turn the page and look beyond our tech stack and turn our attention to the connected state of our marketing data.   Our new eBook, Better Together: The Power of Connected Data, explores in detail, the challenge that marketers are facing with an overabundance of siloed, disconnected data as well as share the wide range of benefits that can be enjoyed with a well thought out data connectivity and access plan.  We’ll also share some vital actions you can take today to get started.