Marketing and data overload: Getting analytics right

How to reduce data overload and create actionable marketing insights and reliable marketing results

How to reduce data overload and create actionable marketing insights and reliable marketing results

Are you suffering from data overload?

The pharmaceutical industry has a lot of data. But much of it, although interesting, is not being used effectively to create both a competitive advantage and reliable results.

It is easy enough to tell if you are using your data rightif you can answer yes to these questions:

Are your brands sales and market share steadily increasing more than those of your competitors?

Is your CFO constantly increasing your budget more than those for other brands?

Is your brand team the toast of the company?

I hope so. But, in many cases, the data does not allow these results, since actionable insights that lead to growth are not being pulled correctly from the data.

Accelerating brand growth

The pharmaceutical industry is the largest sector of purchasers of CRM data.

This promised to provide a flow of information and usable insight, but in many cases this has not happened.

Instead, companies have struggled with complex, and largely unused, installations.

Unfortunately, the outcomes have been wasted money, lost revenue, and no real improvement in results.

The industry is also a heavy user of market research data, but again much of it, although interesting, is not bringing the required insights to accelerate the growth of brands.

While both research data and technology can bring vast improvements to results, you also require measurement and insight to understand who the really profitable customers areor can bewhat these customers really want and need, what is really influencing them to prescribe, whether you are providing it and, if not, what you need to change in order to do so.

In short, you need to know what would make them loyal to your brand.

To do this, analytics of some kind are required.

  1. The biggest underlying problems appear to be:
  2. Not effectively understanding the real drivers of behavior and focusing on what people say rather than understanding the real underlying causes of why your customers are doing what they do, resulting in the market share result you have;
  3. Not linking marketing activities to a financial metric of value to the company;
  4. Not having robust measures (marketing metrics) in accessible desktop portals that not only marketers and analysts have access to but all key members of the company team, including the CEO, CFO and CMO, can look at to see where the results are, what this means to the company, and what value is being realized.


Getting analytics right

While most companies do have analytics of some kind, and each faces its own specific challenges, the most common issues contributing to the above appear to be:

  1. Difficulty selecting the right data to use. There is data overload and often the available data is not the data required to make the decisions that will allow the brand to grow. Choosing what data to focus on is critical.
  2. Focusing on the wrong metrics, for example, by focusing on sales calls per day rather than also focusing on the quality of the calls and their impact on sales and how that can be driven more; or focusing on intent to prescribe rather than what drives actual results.
  3. Focusing on too many metrics. Many metrics are used but these are often not really mapped against key business drivers, and some may even be conflicting.
  4. Using the wrong analytical approaches for the industry; companies relying on historical data in their analytics when their environment is dynamically changing or looking at marketing intervention triangles in a multi-channel environment, and so on. The analytical technique must fit the industry environment in which you are operating.
  5. One-off solutions. You cant go to the gym once and expect to be fit and healthy. You cant conduct an ROI analysis and expect to know all your ROI moving forward. Any analytics must be connected to the business process, decisions, and objectives or the impact will remain limited.
  6. Resistance. So many marketers rely on gut feel and intuition. That can be valuable with some managers who have a very strong grasp of the market but, unless these are combined with the precision of fact-based mathematical analytics, they will not reach optimal results.

These are only a handful of the most common issues we see. There are more.

The pharmaceutical market is moving rapidly and the environment is complex, requiring the analytics to get the right information at the right time to the right people to allow actionable, reliable results.

So, whats the solution?

  • It depends on what you are trying to achieve, but the book Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning outlined a three-part formula: The processes have to be repeatable and organized in a disciplined manner; the most suited people for the job must be properly led and organized; and the technology must be one that everyone can easily use.

Getting reliable results

How can this be implemented? Lets look at a case study to find out.

This brand had been launched for two years and had grown to a degree but not by an impressive amount as anticipated.

Its key competitor was sitting on a huge market share and continuing to grow, while this brand struggled along at a very modest market share.

A plethora of analyses had been conducted and followed but the brand continued to struggle.

Dashboard analytics were then employed as a last resort to impact the brands growth before a decision as to whether to continue marketing the brand.

Key barriers to uptake of the brand were uncovered that had been previously thought to not be a problem.

In addition, a tricky but significant issue was also uncovered for this brand.

The team took all the data and ran extra mathematical analyses on it to see what was underlying this issue and how it could be dealt with.

The results of both sets of analytics were then utilized to make recommendations and an action plan for the brand, which was easily accessible via an online portal dashboard.

The dashboard allowed for scenarios to be tested (e.g., if I move the slider for my market share up by 1%, what changes would I have to make to get that result?) for greater interactivity and buy-in from the team.

The brand doubled in market share within two months of implementation of the recommendations.

After six months, it had increased market share by 8%.

To reach this optimal state, difficult decisions often have to be made.

However, sales and marketing actions built from this foundation can support or cause changes to strategies driving intelligent actions and guide tactics that result in reliable outcomes.

Although all the pieces of the puzzle are within reach, they must be put together into a clear, understandable, and meaningful picture.

Dr. Andree K. Bates is CEO of Eularis, which applies analytics to determine the sales impact of marketing programs.

For more from Dr. Andree K. Bates, see Marketing is measuring and Pharma marketing: The upside of segmentation.

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