Mike Taylor and Hannah Tarbotton recently attended Marketing Association’s Smarter Data Meets CX conference and shared their key event take outs.

#1. Everyone knows the landscape for customer data is changing; most are just getting started.

No matter the type of marketer in the room and their role in their business, everyone is aligned that the data landscape is changing hot and fast. From Google’s phasing out of cookies to the need for first-party data hygiene (see point 3 below), marketers are responding with various successes. Most, if not all, businesses have made progress with building their customers’ first-party data, while some marketers continue to experience the personalisation paradox. As one of the speakers noted, customers value privacy and convenience; therefore, to be successful, a business needs to ask itself what value they are giving in exchange for their data. “The question of value is something that marketers need to challenge their business on continuously, and it’s much easier said than done”, agrees Tarbotton. “Marketers are not new to the idea of giving value for data – that’s the whole concept of lead magnets – but we are seeing an increase in consumer expectations. The classic tactic of discount vouchers, gated content, and the like might still work for now – but to get a more nuanced understanding of preferences, more out-of-the-box thinking and investment will be needed.” This was something that was echoed in the room, says Taylor. “When the audience was asked which companies have tried or are trying to implement customer data platforms, only two or three people put their hands up.”

#2. Mistaking findings for insights

Using data to back investment decisions is familiar to well-honed marketers, but care needs to be taken on how it’s used within a business. There is a difference between findings and insights, and the strategy output can be remarkably different depending on the one used, notes one of the presenters. “Data is something ingrained to us here at BBT, and we absolutely resonate with the point made,” says Taylor. “Making swift decisions and taking the time to digest and visualise data is a fine balance, but it shouldn’t stop any businesses with the goal of making smarter decisions. From our experience, sometimes it is better to take small steps to validate hypotheses before making bigger investment decisions.”

#3. Getting executive buy-ins for the data ducks

Many speakers shared the same challenge of getting senior management buy-ins for investments in data hygiene. One of the roadblocks mentioned was the difficulty in quantifying ROI and the mindset that digesting, sorting, and managing data is an activity that is less of a priority than those visibly related to business growth, such as advertising spend. “Everything is a sales pitch when it comes to getting stakeholder buy-ins,” says Tarbotton. “Shifting perspectives is no easy task and a consistent theme among presenters who shared their success stories of getting buy-ins was the need to research, plan, and pitch their business case. This is the time for marketers to utilise their storytelling skills and campaign within their business, and they don’t need to do it alone,” explains Tarbotton. “Make the most of your technology partner, and get them to help you demonstrate the opportunities lost when businesses don’t get their data ducks in a row. Your partner will also have success stories from other clients that show positive growth and ways to mitigate risks – something that will be top of mind for all senior executives.

The Smarter Data Meets CX conference provided valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities presented by the rapidly changing customer data landscape. While there are certainly obstacles to overcome, such as the personalisation paradox and getting executive buy-ins for investments in data hygiene, the conference also showcased success stories and highlighted ways in which businesses can leverage new technologies and strategies to improve their customer experience. By providing value to customers in exchange for their data and investing in innovative solutions, companies can unlock new opportunities for growth and differentiation.