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Marketing organizations know they have a data and analytics problem, but many marketing leaders aren't sure how to address it.

One-third of marketing departments are trying to fill data and analytics skills gaps with new people, according to Marketing Week's 2022 Career and Salary Survey. However, although hiring your way out of the problem may seem like the best move, between the tight labor market and budget constraints, it's not that simple.

Collectively, companies lose $3 trillion annually because of bad data. Here's a closer look at how marketing leaders can get data right by augmenting staff expertise, improving data sourcing and access, and deploying a data strategy that drives revenue and facilitates cross-team collaboration.

The Case for Developing Employees' Data Skills

One takeaway from Marketing Week's survey is that many marketing leaders are looking to bring in new people who already have data skills.

That's a challenge in the current recruiting environment; but, beyond that, an uncertain economic outlook has resulted in many companies' implementing hiring freezes or budget cuts.

One alternative is to develop a critical resource you already have on board: your current team.

A baseline of technical knowledge and data skills is table stakes for modern marketers. Your people don't need to be coders, but most marketers have basic software skills and many are familiar with the metrics relevant to their work, whether that's writing copy or running lead gen campaigns. In many cases, marketers simply need more exposure to how the technology they already use works.

If you give marketers access to intuitive marketing performance measurement tools and the training they need to monitor data, your marketing team can relatively easily learn what they need to know.

An onboarding program that familiarizes new team members with marketing's tech stack is also a good idea, as is an overview or refresher course for employees who may need extra help with technical tools.

A Single Source of Data Truth

Two-thirds of CMOs say they find the volume of marketing data overwhelming, and more than 60% say they have not established a single source of truth for their marketing data.

Those two problems are likely connected: At many companies, marketing data resides in nonsensical, disparate solutions.

Most B2B marketers are already familiar with their company's CRM system, and the CRM is the idea repository for centralized marketing data. Cloud-based CRM systems are scalable, and users of the most trusted CRM instances can also access Cloud-native marketing apps.

For example, performance measurement tools that automate the flow of data and generate reports to eliminate error-prone workarounds, such as transcribing point solution data into spreadsheets for analysis and reporting.

When you house marketing data in the CRM, you also get the benefit of facilitating a closer alignment between marketing and sales teams, which rely heavily on the CRM system. Collaboration is more important than ever, especially now that so many marketing teams have adopted an account-based marketing (ABM) approach and many still struggle with performance measurement.

No matter what kind of marketing strategy you use, you will need granular data that demonstrates how campaigns are pushing accounts through the funnel, and an easy way to generate accurate reports and share them across the organization.

If you use the CRM as the single source of data truth, you can put those capabilities in place.

Optimizing Your Data Strategy

To optimize their data strategy, marketing leaders need to ensure their metrics are in line with the organization's business strategy. That requires collaboration with the sales team, revenue group, and customer success and retention teams.

The CRM enables data sharing, and data inside the CRM is regarded as credible outside of marketing, so using the CRM to house data is a great start. Everyone benefits from tighter alignment, and a regular meeting cadence is key to achieving it.

Data from a performance measurement solution that demonstrates Marketing's impact on revenue can give CMOs the proof points they need to "defend the spend," which is important. But less focus on the top of the funnel and regular meetings around full-funnel data with colleagues outside of marketing can pinpoint process bottlenecks or point the way to upsell and cross-sell opportunities.

For example, as marketers adopt the ABM framework, cross-functional teams reviewing data together can fix Marketing-to-Sales handoff issues or identify points in the funnel where the sales team might improve results by nurturing account leads to hit deal closure rates.

Team members may find that a campaign on certain channels increases conversion rates and allocate more budget dollars to that effort, or they may decide to reallocate investments in campaigns or channels that aren't performing as well.

Getting Data Management Right

Marketing leaders have plenty of data on their plate, but many aren't yet able to convert it into the insight they require to perform better. They need a way to overcome obstacles, such as a lack of data and analytics expertise, siloed information in point solutions, and misalignment on goals across departments.

You can fix those deficits by developing data and analytics skills with the team you have, providing intuitive performance measurement tools and access to data in your CRM instance, and creating a data strategy that aligns cross-functional teams with broader company objectives.

When you have those elements in place, you'll get data right—and transform Marketing into an efficient revenue engine.

More Resources on Marketing Data Management

Why Data Quality Is Important for Market Intelligence

From Data to Actionable Intelligence: How Not to Sabotage Good Data With Bad Reporting

Bad Data Is Ruining Your Ad Campaigns—Here's How to Fix It

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Marketing Has a Data Problem, and Here's What Can Fix It

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image of Bonnie Crater

Bonnie Crater is a co-founder and the president and CEO of Full Circle Insights, which delivers sales and marketing performance management solutions to optimize a company's marketing mix and drive more revenue.

LinkedIn: Bonnie Crater

Twitter: @BonnieCrater