We Need More Scientists in Marketing
I have always thought the trend of using more analysis in marketing would monotonically increase. Over the past two decades marketing activity has become more measurable, and stimuli that can’t be directly tied to response can be tracked at increased granularity that helps to identify how they contribute to behavior change.
But the use of marketing analytics has stalled in many cases.
I am sure there are many reasons for this, but I’ll outline two that I see most frequently.
First, I’ve always been intrigued by the way that we humans find ways to justify our own beliefs and biases even in the face of overwhelming data that contradicts those beliefs. It’s hard to admit that you might be wrong, so we naturally find ways to avoid it. Marketers that have invested emotional energy and organizational capital (both reputational and financial) creating new campaigns are particularly susceptible to this force. Nobody likes to pull a new advertising campaign that is underperforming. In many cases, amazing spin is placed on results to try and save a weak, or even value-destroying, campaign.
Second, as this Marketing Charts article points out , we don’t have enough analytic talent in the marketing field. This is a worrisome and long-term problem. Only the largest advertisers can compete and appropriately compensate marketers that can think like both consumers and scientists. As consumers we need to stay naïve to the category in which we work each day and generate new hypotheses on what might create action. As scientists we have to be dispassionate to our creative, know the most sensitive parts of our purchase path, and understand analytics at a deep enough level to know what types of decisions should be left to data. Once you adopt an analytic approach to site management or CRM or media it’s not more difficult, it’s just your process.
Every story has a bright side. All of those campaigns being run without analytics? They are the competition for your customer’s attention. Attention that we can earn for fewer dollars because our tools are demonstrably better.