I love data. Almost as much as I love muscle cars. Because both are powerful and can make an impact.
I have called myself a data-driven marketing leader for a few years now. It’s not just the numbers themselves but the intelligence, analysis, and decision-making they drive. My teams have often heard me use the term “Agile Marketing”, where we create and “ship” programs and campaigns, have clear metrics and goals, measure and analyze results, and then make iterative changes based on the data feedback. Agile Marketing is a great process, but its impact is limited without great data telling you what is working and what is not.
Marketing needs data-driven decisions
It’s incredible how marketing and math have collided. When young marketing or communication majors ask me what they should study outside their core classes, I say math, business accounting, and statistics. I always get the same stunned look . . . because too few people have recognized the incredible shift toward the use of data analytics in marketing. Great content development, creativity, market positioning, messaging and other marketing skills are still critical; but data, and the ability to analyze, understand, and use it, is perhaps the most critical of all.
Just as marketing academics have not kept up with the changing industry landscape, the tools we use in marketing have also not kept pace with the need. In spite of hundreds of marketing focused applications, it is still hard to find great data analytics for marketing leaders. As a CMO, I want analytics that tell me in a snapshot what is happening, how I am doing in the market, and what I need to change or do more of.
How using data analysis landed me at Rival IQ
This is what led me to Rival IQ. I had coffee with one of the founders about getting back involved with the Seattle start-up community, and he talked a bit about the company he and three others had founded not long ago focused on competitive marketing analytics. I signed up for the Rival IQ free trial, and I was quickly overwhelming my social media manager with charts and reports showing how we were doing compared to our top five competitors in social media.
I then used some of these charts in my next Operations review and Quarterly Business Review (QBR). Nothing else we were using provided quite this view in a simple, executive chart format. And we were using multiple tools, including Omniture, Netbase, Radian6 and others. All provided valuable information, but I needed to show market context, which Rival IQ did.
Ironically, it was also data that led me to join the Rival IQ team full time. Around this time, I had started thinking about returning to the start-up community, and I was talking to multiple venture capitalists and start-ups, including Rival IQ. The more I got to know the product, people and market, the more I liked about this company and what it was doing.
A data-driven decision matrix makes sure you aren’t using just your gut
Similar to the decision matrix the Rival IQ team used to finalize its choice of a marketing leader, I used a decision grid to evaluate and score key criteria to finalize my new company. I evaluated 16 criteria across the leadership and team, financial situation, market fit, product viability, customer momentum, potential for exit, my role and impact, and more, giving each area a score from 1 to 5. Rival IQ received the highest aggregate score across my stack ranked criteria compared to the other final companies I was speaking to. Importantly, my gut aligned (because even with the greatest data, you also need to trust your intuition.)
I am thrilled to be starting this new adventure and working with this star-studded entrepreneurial team. And I am excited to be immersed in data that can help marketers accelerate their impact, beat the competition, and grow the business.
At the end of the day, the only number that matters is revenue, and I believe that marketing can make or break that number. But to do that, you need the right data at the right time to make the decisions to drive your business forward.