Running a data-driven marketing team

December 11, 2019

December 11, 2019

“I can’t emphasise enough how many times I bet something would work in my marketing, and the results showed the exact opposite”

Most marketing teams today think of data as the fuel that drives their day-to-day processes. In fact, a recent Econsultancy survey found that the vast majority of marketers consider “data-driven marketing that focuses on the individual” to be “the single most exciting opportunity” in 2019 and beyond. Yet, running a data-driven marketing team is by no means an easy feat

To understand a bit more about what goes into doing it successfully, I spoke with Alessio Pieroni, Head of Marketing at the world’s largest personal growth platform, Mindvalley, about using data-driven methods to manage marketing teams. It’s something he’s pretty clued up on: He currently heads up a team of 40-45 marketers, and is passionate about implementing data and experimentation  – a process he admits is sometimes like “throwing spaghetti at a wall and seeing what sticks” – to ensure that marketing is as effective as possible.  

Managing a team of so many people offers many challenges, says Alessio, and “the first one is finding the right leaders to be able to manage all the different parts of the department”.

Secondly, ensuring your team aren’t working in silos is critical

“[In a big team] you have the social media silos, the advertising silos, the brand management and product marketing silos, the influencer marketing silos – and more. Making sure that these areas are connected is key, and managing a bigger team my work is more focused on ensuring those connections are being made.”

A larger marketing team means having the ability to spread your resources across many channels, Alessio notes. This is something smaller teams don’t have the capacity to do, but often attempt to emulate, ultimately making the mistake of spreading themselves too thinly by trying to do too much.

“If I am ever managing a smaller marketing team again, I’ll make sure to focus on doing a few things very well, rather than doing everything at once,” he explains.

Effective use of data is a huge part of reducing these silos of information across teams. I ask Alessio how much data has changed his day-to-day in the last five years – and he’s emphatic.  

“I can’t emphasise enough how much it’s changed! And I can’t emphasise enough how many times I bet something would work in my marketing, and the results showed the exact opposite.

“Something that’s been really crucial for us is having a business intelligence team,” he adds. “That’s grown from one person to three, and they manage sets of data and work on building different dashboards for different things. We’ve tried to build one for each marketing team to allow us to understand what’s working and when something’s wrong. These kinds of data-driven insights allow us to come up with more ideas for testing, and are what has allowed us to scale so quickly.”

“AI and machine learning is shaping the evolution of marketing”

The logical conclusion of the ‘data boom’ is a move toward AI-driven practices, with 40% of marketers reporting that they are implementing it in their practices, and a further 44% evaluating or planning for the technology. I ask Alessio what experience he has of using it, and what kind of impact he thinks it’s having.

“We’ve started experimenting with AI, especially with Google who’ve been helping create some recommendation algorithms for us,” he says. “This allows us to have a strong understanding of the likelihood of purchase of our customers, and using this to optimise our pricing.

“This is an interesting development that I wouldn’t have predicted. Now that I’m understanding the power of this kind of data and what it can bring us, I’m understanding how far behind we are. AI and machine learning is shaping the evolution of marketing – and it’s going to be even more intelligent in the future.”

While we’re on the topic of predictions, I ask Alessio what trends he expects to see in marketing over the coming years. He believes that usage of social media channels is something that’s set to experience a big change.

“We’re going to continue to see the rise of LinkedIn,” he predicts. “But there’s also going to be a drop in organic reach across the board, and I think Instagram will be the one that drops the most, first

“There will be a rise in groups on social as well,” Alessio adds. “We used to approach marketing as an attempt to target the most people possible, but now it’s going back to being all about connecting as much as possible.

“In terms of conversion we’re seeing a lot of movement toward intelligence in the funnel, the classic marketing funnel that’s the same for everyone doesn’t work. It’s all about how we can optimise it as much as possible to give a different, omnichannel experience rather than a classic old-school email marketing approach. 

“It’s all about predictive analytics, not just about understanding what’s going wrong but understanding what could happen if you changed something. And machine learning will play such a huge part in this.”