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Why Did the Data Geek Cross the Road?

To Get To Her Data Model

I have a t-shirt that says, “I Wanna Data Model.” (Thank you Oracle Data Summit!)

Most of you reading this probably cracked a smile at that phrase. But why? Is it satirical? Is it ironic? Is it self-deprecating? All of these descriptions probably apply – I‘m sure the comedy geeks can determine why we think it’s funny. For data geeks like me, we definitely see the humor, but we also quite seriously see the need for data models.

The truth is that while modern marketers are both creative and analytical, in general people still don’t think of us as data inspired. Ask non-marketers and they’ll say we sit around thinking of innovative, exciting, and expensive ways to grab market share, not that we crunch numbers or analyze data. Some of the time, it’s true – grabbing market share is a big part of marketing. But the reality is, the ‘M’ in ‘CMO’ stands for ‘metrics’ just as much as it does ‘marketing’ - and modern marketers are as beholden to data models as accountants are to double-entry bookkeeping.

Modern Marketing is Telling Stories Through Data

The past 20 years have brought extraordinary changes to the amount of data at our fingertips, and more importantly, what we can do with that data.

Modern marketers are as beholden to data models as accountants are to double-entry bookkeeping.
 

Modern marketing starts when we can make sense of the data we have, and when marketers find meaning, stories, and paths to success through data. All of which informs lead scoring, nurture tracks, budget allocation, and yes, innovative, exciting and (potentially) expensive campaigns that can drive revenue!

 

But, let’s explore why we cracked a smile at that Oracle t-shirt design.

It might be funny to think of data geeks as fashion models, but I suspect that we cracked a smile because overall, the companies we work for don’t find data sexy.

However, that stereotype is changing, and it’s changing fast. Increasingly, we are seeing terms like, ‘Master Data Management,’ ‘Chief Data Officer,’ and of course, ‘Big Data’ everywhere. Just look how the Google Trends data on searches for ‘Data Scientist’ has evolved over the past 10 years:

Data Scientist Keyword Interest Over Time

Data is becoming easier to collect; but making sense of the data is becoming more and more difficult. Our organizations need to be willing and able to create data models, to ask the inquisitive questions that modern marketers are itching to ask – who, what, where, when, why? – and to tell data-inspired stories.

Creating Great Data Models

“I Wanna Data Model” is the foundation for exploring, learning, and expanding our understanding of data.  Step 1: Start with a basic data model. Step 2: Confirm it works. Step 3: Layer on your questions. Step 4: Experiment and test. Think of data models as an ever-evolving framework; you know your business more than anyone else, so don’t be afraid to get your data geek on (and keep these tips in mind):

1.       Don’t get hung-up on the tools. We all live in multiple platforms, and they all have versions of the ‘truth.’ Pick one and carry on.

2.       Don’t get hung-up on the numbers. As marketers, we are looking for uplift. Yes, there is a role for understanding how many marketing-qualified leads you delivered, but absolute numbers mean little. “Percent growth” needs to be your best friend. Bonus: If you can factor industry growth into your model, then applause for you!

3.       Find a story. Marketers need to make sense of the data. There is a story that outlines how customers and prospects are interacting with your brand. Bridging the divide between data and story is the key to creating successful campaigns.

4.       Feel confident. Is something keeping you up at night? Is the gut check making you queasy? Trust yourself. Go back and ask the inquisitive questions again, get answers, and feel confident.

 

 

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