Tableau CMO: How to get started on your analytics journey

There is no doubt that the role of marketers is now radically different from the job scope of their predecessors. Today, marketers are expected to justify all marketing expenses, build the brand, spread awareness of their products, as well as to help drive leads at least part of the way down the sales funnel.

We had the opportunity to sit down with Elissa Fink of Tableau Software, who is in town this week for the Tableau Conference on Tour held at the Pan Pacific Hotel from Monday to Wednesday. We sat down with her to discuss the challenges faced by CMOs, and spoke about real-world problems that analytics can solve, common mistakes made by businesses, and how to get started.

Solving real-world problems with analytics

So how can analytics make a difference to the life of the marketer? “I think [it makes] the modern day marketer smarter,” said Fink, who noted that there is "a lot of judgment" that is required of by marketers. Having the pertinent data and analytics on hand however, can result in marketers being better informed, so that they can respond faster and be quicker to make decisions.

“Your judgment is better, you have better results because you are more confident, and not chasing hunches," she told CMO Innovation. "It is about supplementing a good marketer’s judgment and experience."

At Tableau, Fink shared how analytics is used to monitor digital campaigns and spot problems area, track conversation rates, and follow the leads all the way to their being engaged by sales representative. “I can just do this with drag and drop ease. And I can understand which programs are converting best,” she said.

Common mistakes made by businesses

With so much they can do, what is one common mistakes made by businesses as they embark on the analytics journey? “I think one of the biggest pitfalls is [the expectation] that there’s ever a final destination on your analytics journey,” said Fink. “Having an expectation where there is a destination where it stops, is a mistake.”

Unlike an IT implementation that could see a rollout period of anywhere from six months to two years, for example, Fink says that the analytics journey is one that never ends. The reason? “Its not two years and we will have the perfect data warehouse--that's never going to happen.”

Ultimately, there is certainly a need to get started on the journey, and milestones and goals for improvements do need to be established. But your competitors are always improving, said Fink, alluding to how organizations need to continuously up their game in order to compete effectively. “It’s never a final destination; it’s always a journey.”

So how do you get started?

So how can marketers get started on the analytics journey? According to Fink, the best way to get started is simply to stop procrastinating and “just start”.

“Sometimes people think we need to get the perfect database, or we don’t have that [particular] data,” explained Fink, who advised organizations to first get started with what they have. Not only does this helps get the ball rolling, but the initial successes will only encourage further exploration--culminating in additional success. “Nothing begets success like success,” she said.

But what about getting to those silos of data locked up in various departments or databases not under the purview of the CMO, which is a common scenario with larger organizations. On that front, Fink suggested that CMOs have to be willing to step out of their comfort zone and be the first to share the data that they already have with others in their organizations.

This may entail partnering with the head of regional sales, the regional finance director, or even the salesperson, in order to produce success stories for a start. “Those successes, especially if you can demonstrate and see collaboration at work, that gets other people on board,” she noted.

Of course, CMOs will have to lobby the other executives, and show them how the business as a whole will stand to benefit with access to additional data, and that locking down the data is not the solution.


Finally, Fink also threw in a word of caution: “From an exec perspective, when you unlock the data, and you let people use the data, people are going to make mistakes.” Rather than find fault with that, she suggested adopting a different approach. “Be accepting of that, be a learning culture, be forgiving. Making mistakes is part of the journey.”