Gabey Goh
May 17, 2016

Today’s data-driven marketing is not true predictive marketing: Commvault

SINGAPORE - The concept of data-driven marketing has been talked about for quite a long time, but the reality in practice is not living up to true potential, according to Commvault System’s global CMO Chris Powell and APAC marketing director Claire Larsen.

Today’s data-driven marketing is not true predictive marketing: Commvault

Many of the ‘data-driven’ marketing programmes in play today are not true predictive marketing approaches, according to Powell.

“Often they are built around providing insights into what’s happened in the past, and what’s worked or not worked,” he said. “However, being ‘data-driven’ is about using data to steer the organisation and move it forward—something very few companies have been able to do.”

But Powell is confident that soon enough, there will be “dramatic change”, so that instead of just talking about predictive marketing, more organisations will actually start to use predictive analytics and the tools that are now available to make data-driven marketing a reality.

Yet some challenges still prevent marketing teams from fully reaping the benefits of data-driven marketing. One of these is gaining access to all available information and dealing with the complexities that come with it.

Powell noted that most of the first- and third-party data required by marketers often sits in disparate repositories and applications, which makes it difficult to bring all that information together in a single view.

“Sometimes marketers are only looking at 30 percent of their data, while historic data—which is vital in offering a complete picture—is sitting in backups or archives,” he said.

The key to solving this is to have a way to bring all that information together in one platform, allowing data points to communicate with one another, at a speed that makes sense for the business.

Powell added that it is also imperative for marketers to intelligently manage and model this data—sorting incomplete forms from insightful consumer data and legacy information to ensure it is in a consistent format—in order to gain a more holistic view of behaviour and trends.

“Only then will they be able to be smarter about their marketing investments, allocation of resources and where to invest in high-value activities,” he added.

Marketers also cite the industry's lack of professional data-analysis skills, which companies need to “live and breathe” a data-driven marketing approach. Businesses often find they are lacking the right personnel who can analyse and translate insights from the data collected.

Chris Powell

Powell sees it as a a critical step for organisations looking to get data-driven marketing programmes off the ground and truly gain that deep analysis that drives business outcomes.

“For us, it meant hiring a team of five data scientists, who have been instrumental to our successes,” he said. “I see that as one of the key first steps in overcoming barriers, in order for companies to take advantage of data-driven marketing techniques, they first need to tap on the right talent.”

For Powell and his team, the ‘actionable’ point is key.

“If you are just looking at pretty graphs, numbers and charts but can’t take the next step to drive an outcome, in reality you’re still looking in the past,” he said. “To truly adopt a data-driven marketing approach, you need to bring in professionals who can provide those forward-looking actionable insights.”

Powell reports that conversations with customers have taken “a seismic step” in a different direction over the past 12 to 24 months.

Where organisations used to be focused largely on cost control and risk avoidance when it came to their data, they are now increasingly focused on bringing value to their business through data.

“They come to Commvault to help them understand what they need to do to get their data right, and be able to activate it to drive value, as opposed to thinking of risk avoidance and cost control,” he said.

“Companies are realising that the environment they are managing their information across has dramatically changed to include private and public cloud, as well as several mobile devices including BYOD,” he added.

Powell said that marketers should be capturing as much data as possible from as many resources as they can access. Conversations with customers are happening everywhere—through the call centre, in branches, in social media, in mobile chats and through owned media such as websites.

“The more data that is informing our marketing strategies, the greater the accuracy in decision-making and the more value we can add to business success,” he added. “But this takes the right talent to deliver a robust analytics capability where you have professionals who know how to analyse the data and provide real, actionable insights.”

Bringing in new talent and mindsets

According to Powell, one common misconception—or mistake—is continuing with the traditional mindset to justify marketing spend based on the results of campaigns or initiatives that have already happened.

Data-driven marketing completely turns this upside down. It’s a major shift that should enable a company to rethink everything it does and how it does it, based on future insight, rather than what’s worked in the past.

“This insight, through propensity modelling, determines the likelihood of an activity or response taking place,” he said. “This means we can be smarter marketers, and invest in those areas the data says are likely to return higher and speed the time to value.”

Commvault’s own data-driven journey began in 2015, when the company hired a group of data scientists to put together predictive models and analytics, and applied these to its online engagement and sales pipeline activity.

Powell shared that predictive analytics has been instrumental for the marketing team in dramatically increasing the value it can add to the organisation’s success.

“Being able to clearly identify 80 percent of the visitors to our website has equipped us with valuable information that helps shape how we could target each individual within our target segments,” said Powell. “Not only that, we can now combine our web session engagement data with sales pipeline activity, and work with sales to ensure they are focusing their efforts on opportunities with high value and a high likelihood of closing.”

Powell notes that there is seldom talk of how marketers can manage their data intelligently to obtain full value from data-driven marketing.

“If a business lacks a comprehensive data-management strategy to fully understand and utilise any data it comes into contact with, then data is nothing more than the proverbial white elephant, costing the company more and more each year as the complexity of managing it rises exponentially,” he said.

“Prioritising storage-management resources is an important aspect of this, as some data needs to be retained for many years, or by legislation needs to be destroyed after a certain time, whilst others may just be important for a few days,” he added.

The ability to draw secure data from a remote location is also often understated, Powell added. As marketing decisions are made on-the-go, having quick access to this data can often be the differentiator when making a decision off-site, on-the-go and in real-time.

State of play in Asia

APAC marketing director Claire Larsen shared that the data and information management software company has had a presence in the region for 13 years now, across 19 countries in Asia, including Australia, China, India, Japan, and Southeast Asia.

Its regional hub is located in Singapore, and clients include stock exchanges, telecommunications companies, government agencies, engineering and healthcare organisations.

Larsen reports that in response to a changing landscape, the company has seen a huge change the past year in its marketing mix, with an increasing focus on digital platforms.

“Since last year, we’ve been embarking on a digital rebranding of our corporate assets as well as our marketing efforts globally,” she said. “This ranges from the revamping of our website, to an increase in the use of data to drive our marketing efforts, ensuring our earned, owned and paid media are aligned.”

Larsen declined to disclose how much the company spends on marketing efforts in the region, but said that in terms of investments, it has made a significant shift toward digital.

“Where traditionally the bulk of our marketing spend was on large-scale events, this year has seen that reduced down to 5 percent, while digital will rise to 50 percent of our marketing budgets,” she added.

As part of its efforts, Commvault’s website is now available in many local languages across APAC, providing more accessibility to online visitors from regions such as China, Korea and Japan—markets the company views as growth opportunities.

“We consider our online presence as a reflection of our physical shopfront,” said Larsen. “No one enters an outdated-looking shop expecting great and modern products.”

Here the company’s use of data-driven decision-making comes into play.

“It all comes down to practising what we preach to our customers,” she said, adding that Asia is such a diverse region that each market has a different awareness or marketing challenge.

With social-media channels alone, agility and adaptability is required across the region, with the landscape more complex than EMEA or Americas, which predominantly focus on LinkedIn and Twitter.

“In APAC, China’s social presence is on WeChat, while in Malaysia, Thailand and India, Facebook is key for being socially savvy as a business,” said Larsen. “We’ve needed to remain agile and flexible in tailoring our social strategy to these markets.”

How the company delivers its message to its target audience also varies by market. For example, the leader countries in big data initiatives tend to be Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, so executives can have “quite thought-provoking and visionary conversations” with customers in these countries.

“On the other hand, while not the earliest adopters, there is an incredible opportunity for Commvault in China, Japan and India where major society shifts such as urbanisation, infrastructure and information consumption will soon drive strong growth for data-management needs,” she added.

Asked about priorities in the coming months, Larsen said marketing initiatives will continue to ramp up in the region, and programmes will focus on the key conversations customers are interested in hearing about, such as modern data management, infrastructure modernisation, information management and application lifecycle management.

“Our focus as a marketing team is duplicating success across the region,” she added. “What worked in China can be repurposed in Singapore, for example, with some minor tweaks to tailor to local needs.”

She added that Commvault considers APAC a key emerging market, and are investing in expanding the team and resources across the region, including marketing and partner marketing.

“Our business is very channel focused, so a key priority this year is to ensure we have robust approaches to how we ‘market with’ and ‘market to’ our partners, enabling them to be more successful with us,” Larsen added.

On 8 June in Singapore, Campaign Asia-Pacific presents Data Marketing Analytics, an inaugural summit that will look at unlocking and utilising the full potential of big data in marketing. 

The event will bring together industry experts from marketing, digital, and technology to speak on a combination of panel discussions, workshops, presentations, and case studies. CMOs, VPs of marketing, senior marketing directors, data scientists, CRM experts and more will participate.

Please see for more information.


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