I’ve had several experiences as a consultant whereby I’ve been asked by clients to help them with a marketing challenge. Typically, these include using data to tackle a complex marketing problem that has arisen or sometimes something as simple as building an attribution model (just kidding).

When asked what data they have, I am told to either speak with the IT team or the data team. It is often the case that marketers are unaware of what data is available to them. Now, this in itself shouldn’t really be a problem, as they are usually the business stakeholders and should just be able to ask the data analytics team to solve the problem they have. 

However, if they do not know what data is available, they cannot really appreciate what is and is not possible. 

Let’s go to our simple problem of building an attribution model. I’ve worked with many marketing clients who have asked me to come up with a marketing attribution model for their businesses. My first port of call is the data analytics team, and I find that often they already have a marketing attribution model or at least know how to build one. So the question is, why have I been asked to come up with an attribution model when the data analytics team within the business is fully capable of building one?

Well, the main problem is the marketing team are unaware of what data is available to build this model. If we focus solely on digital channels, accounting for the above line channels like TV, Radio, and OOH makes things a little more complex. But, potentially, something I can address in a later article as we have created methodologies and analytical attribution models to take all channels into account in an attribution model.

So, back to the challenge at hand. The marketing team want an attribution model which includes all of their digital channels. The analytics team are briefed and goes away to build one. But then the marketing team are not convinced it is the right model or it doesn’t match the data they get from Facebook or Google. 

If you speak with the analytics team, you will find that they have understood the problem and taken into account all the data they have to build this model. However, the data they have access to in the rawest form to build the attribution model is usually data collected from their owned site. The marketing team, however, point out that Facebook is too low on attribution, as measured by the Facebook attribution model. The analytics team re-look at the data and confirms that their model is correct.

So what went wrong? Well, it’s because marketers do not know what data the business has access to. The Facebook attribution model is able to use the view thru metrics. A metric that the data team do not have access to, as it is something that only Facebook can collect from its own site and is unlikely they will share with advertisers. 

The marketing team do not usually know this; they just understand what they see in the Facebook dashboard. However, to be more effective in their role, marketers need to understand what data is being collected by the business. Not because they can avoid these common mistakes, but knowing what data they collect can also help them ask the analytics team more interesting questions.

On one project, I was working with a retailer where the marketing team didn’t know that they collected data on people who added an item to a basket and then would take the item out, and even how many times they added that item to the basket but always took it out. The marketers knew about an abandoned basket and would target people who had left an item in their basket but did not check out, but they didn’t know about people who had items in the basket and then took them out of their baskets.

Once they knew this, they then worked with the data analytics team to understand if there was something about those items which enticed people to add them to their basket, but it wasn’t compelling enough for them to purchase, and in fact, people removed it from the basket. This then led to a series of initiatives to increase purchasing by understanding those missed opportunities to purchase.

So as marketers, get involved in understanding what data you have. Work with your data and IT teams to understand what data you collect, and what you can’t collect, and see if there are ways you can work with solution providers to get access to more data to make your marketing more powerful. 

Don’t forget, as a business you don’t collect data for analysts to just play with. Data is collected to help the business grow and be more competitive. The domain of data may be the analysts, but the owners should be marketers. A starting point in understanding what data you have is to create a KPI framework and a data dictionary in the business. Using this as a source of reference, marketers can ask questions about the data to get more value from it. So as marketers, take an active interest in the data collected by the business and work with the data analysts to see what can be done with the data. You never know where it might lead.

Be Data Solutions runs a Discover and Define process whereby we can help you build out a KPI framework and data dictionary. This is an essential first step in understanding what you want to achieve as a business and what data you have or will need to achieve it. It sets the foundation for using data to inform your strategy and decision making. Contact us at to speak with one of our consultants and to find out more.

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