November 22, 2018

The Essence of Modern Marketing: When Art Meets Science

Marko Saarinen

Head of Marketing Science, Customer Experience Management business unit, Tieto

To succeed and survive in today’s fast-paced world of marketing and customer acquisition and retention, the ability to use data and analytics has become the key success factor.

So, is marketing an art or a science? First, it should definitely start with science, and also the execution of marketing activities should be driven and enabled by science. Second, it is unmistakably a science with a critical dose of creativity – it is the science of discovering what people love about your product or service, and it is definitely the science of generating and instilling love if too little of that existed before.

Where We Actually Are

In a 2016 survey conducted by Gartner, 69% of marketing leaders expected the majority of their decisions to be driven by data by 2018. At the same time, marketing analytics and related capabilities accounted for less than 10% of the marketing budget – the largest share of any budget category. Based on this and our observations in organizations, it is easy to say that we are not there, yet. Far away from it. So, what are the showstoppers here?

Let’s start with a broad definition for what marketing scientists or marketing science teams do or are supposed to do. They are storytellers (and sometimes also “storydoers”), brand champions, data analysts, data scientists, marketing technologists, experience designers, and experimenters – and this is only a partial list. If I should pick one particular role that I find the most describing in an ideal world  – it is the last one, experimenters. They are the ones who play a key enabling role when it comes to building brand ambassadors and loyal customers.

In reality, however, the picture or the role is quite different in most organizations. A majority of the time of marketing scientists is still spent on foundational activities related to data integration, data formatting, data preparation for analysis, etc. Needless to say, this is highly necessary work, but it is oftentimes also the gross misuse of skilled, but scarce advanced analytics talent available in the market. In addition, that alone does next to nothing to drive competitive differentiation or generate truly powerful insights based on the smart analysis and utilization of data.

Toward Insights-driven Marketing

Why does this matter? Because impactful marketing is more about science than art – but not either or. It is about the analysis of big data, collected through customer interactions and engagements, to make predictions about future behaviors. It is about understanding the data you have, as well as the data you can and will get. It is about enriching, organizing, analyzing, and applying that data to produce enhanced and personalized experiences, content, and offers for more impactful and meaningful 1-to-1 marketing efforts. The “traditional” funnel, as we know it, is dead. Today’s B2C and B2B customers expect that the sale is just the beginning of the journey of personalized, meaningful, and sustained engagement enabled by responsible use of data. For marketers, this means thinking and acting in terms of data-driven perpetual programs instead of isolated campaigns that have no continuity. It is about human augmentation, i.e., augmenting human creativity with artificial intelligence.

Today’s B2C and B2B customers expect that the sale is just the beginning of the journey of personalized, meaningful, and sustained engagement enabled by responsible use of data.

This viewpoint will start an ongoing series of marketing science-related blog posts where you will find our perspectives on the “stuff” needed to be successful in modern, insights-driven marketing. The upcoming blog posts will dive deeper into the marketing science domain and discuss various strategic, technical, operational, and other topical issues and discoveries that are on top of our mind – and, of course, our customers’ mind.

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