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Data-Driven Transformation in Marketing

Savvy CMOs translate data expertise into business intelligence, impacting the whole marketing team, the wider business, and the CMO’s role.

Marketing has always used data. However, a move to digital platforms has increased the data collected and how this information is used, changing marketing’s place in the business.

Rebecca Malzacher is the General Manager of marketing for the Australasia region at International SOS, a medical and travel security services firm. Data forms the heart of the company’s decisions and helps its small marketing operation understand business goals, the markets in which it operates, and product penetration.

“Data helps us to understand where we’re going to focus next, whether through market-mapping exercises, database reviews or looking at previous campaign performances,” Malzacher says.

“We’ll focus our campaigns and activity where they will impact the company’s objectives best. That’s whether it’s a financial or a service-level related initiative.”

Using Data for Insights

International SOS integrates Eloqua, Salesforce, Google Analytics, AdWords, and Adroll to collate and track data. The business also has internal analytical support to ensure the marketing team understands the information it collects.

The most basic way the marketing team uses the information is to track leads and build buyer journeys. “We look at response rates across our channels weekly and then adjust our campaign activities and budget,” Malzacher says. “We look at the messaging. We change resources if things are not working and we’re not reaching our target.”

This data can turn marketing into the hub of business intelligence. The work can help identify, develop, and create new strategic opportunities.

International SOS’s Rebecca Malzacher

International SOS has a proprietary case-management system that interlinks 26 global assistant centers that deal with about 1.5 million medical security cases annually. On top of that, it has a traveler-tracking system – Malzacher calls it “the largest aggregator of business-related travel data worldwide”.

The marketing department uses the insights collected by this system to create thought leadership, including webinars and white papers about industry trends, which are shared with the broader business and customers. This ultimately fuels the organization’s lead-generation efforts.

“Data in our organization is also analyzed to answer different business needs, whether around market share or market penetration,” she says. “We look at client-to-prospect ratios, and we also look at white space analysis or account expansion opportunities.

“That gives us a good basis for strategizing and building business cases for campaigns and new market opportunities.”

For example, International SOS analyzed its client base data and found that clients with a single service with the organization have a higher attrition rate. In response, International SOS redeveloped its offerings to draw together many services. It created a membership program integrating its traveler-tracking data with its Assistance app to deliver information to clients before they call for assistance or advice.

“We found that not only did this reduce the attrition of our clients, we also were able to see through client feedback and net promoter scores that it increased customer loyalty and satisfaction rates. It also drove case volumes down; fewer people are getting seriously ill, resulting in better security and health outcomes for travelers and ultimately saving clients money.”

Building credibility through collaboration

Being able to provide business insights has the bonus of demonstrating marketing’s value to possible naysayers outside of the department. International SOS must engage with medical and security experts with diverse professional backgrounds. Malzacher says data is key to getting them on the same page.

“To get all those individuals engaged and aligned in a project, you need to build a strong business case,” she says. “That comes from marketing’s ability to take the data, interpret it, and utilize storytelling techniques to show how medical and security experts can lead change with their expertise and insight.”

“When marketing leads with insight, and if it’s actionable and produces a positive outcome for the business, then the true value of marketing is realized.”

In particular, International SOS has used data to build the important (but sometimes fraught) relationship between marketing and sales. Malzacher’s team uses marketing dashboards that look at metrics, including email click-through and open rates. The executive level has more comprehensive dashboards that look at ROI and effectiveness across all campaigns. Some sales dashboards show the funnel and handover process, helping to join critical departments at the hip.

“Data supports handing over those marketing qualified leads and tracking them through to the sales team, and then ultimately to opportunity value,” she says.

From a marketing perspective, data sharing has built stronger partnerships throughout the business. “I think it’s a shift in perception,” Malzacher says. “If you’re leading with business intelligence or insight, then you’ve got something stronger and more tangible for a business to understand.”

Data Switching the CMO Power Place

By providing business insights through data and demonstrating the value of marketing through collaboration, data-savvy CMOs become the optimal provider of advice to the CEO. In doing so, they also get a leg-up on the ladder towards CEO.

Analyzing and gaining insights from data is crucial to modern marketing. “I think when marketing leads with insight, and if it’s actionable and produces a positive outcome for the business, then the true value of marketing is realized,” Malzacher says.

“That may be through the impact on the bottom line. It might be through increased client satisfaction rates or your ability to improve a product or service. It allows marketing to be measured in such a way as to be on an equal footing with others.”