The role of information in driving business decisions has long been deemed crucial. The growing use of technology in business activities impacts organizations' ability to use data in many ways, from strategic decisions to simple daily transactions.

As a customer-facing function of the business, the marketing department's ability to use information to successfully engage customers is critical to address these challenges and remain competitive in the marketplace.

Business Context
For marketing efforts, we break information into two distinct categories; internal and external.

Internal data refers to information pertaining to marketing assets — such as pictures, video and audio — that reside within a company's own ecosystem whereas external data refers to information on outside entities such as customers, prospects, and competitors.

The CIO's involvement in streamlining and managing the processes to capture and disseminate these data is a key enabler for marketers to drive results from their marketing campaigns and programs.

Internal Data
The ability to engage customers with the most relevant and timely marketing message and content is a key component of successful marketing campaigns.

Performance measures from our November 2010 Marketing Asset Management research affirms the value of marrying data and marketing content to identify the effectiveness of each marketing asset — See figure 1.

Figure 1 – Year-over-Year Performance Gains of Companies Using Data to Manage Marketing Content

Source: Aberdeen Group, April 2011

In addition to the year-on-year performance improvements illustrated above, marketing's contribution to sales forecasted pipeline in companies, using data to manage their marketing content is approximately twice as much as companies that are not taking advantage of their data.

Aberdeen's research shows that companies adopting a data-driven marketing asset management approach are 159 per cent more likely than others to have marketing work collaboratively with IT to manage their marketing assets.

This highlights the importance of IT as a strategic business partner in enabling marketing to use internal data to understand which content works, and use these insights to improve results of upcoming campaigns.

External Data
Aberdeen's July 2010 report Accessing and Understanding Customer Experience Data Is Life or Death highlights the methods and importance of using customer information in marketing efforts.

This research shows that top performing companies differentiate themselves from their peers through two key business processes that enable:

 - Establishing and using a well-defined process to track and measure their marketing results. This allows these companies to gain timely and relevant insights on the impact of marketing campaigns in engaging customers.
 - Reporting marketing campaign results to key decision makers. Having this process in place enables decision makers to access crucial customer experience information in order to understand and meet customer demands through marketing programs and campaigns. Top performing companies are 71 per cent more likely than their counterparts to have this process in place.

Our research shows that companies with a formal process to capture and use customer data are 30 per cent more likely than others to have achieved year-over-year gains in company revenue.

Marketing is business-critical
Marketing in modern organizations is no longer a support function that is measured solely on click-through rates and brand impressions.

Rather, it's a strategic business function that must make decisions and recommendations based on the best available data pertaining to the company's customers and prospective customers.

In addition, its must be able to correlate its efforts directly to hard measures that impact the bottom line performance of the business.

Marketers cannot accomplish this on their own; they need the CIO and the office of information technology to help them manage this information flow and report on the measures that matter to the business.

For more research from Aberdeen Group that applies to the CIO, try our CIO Toolkit.

Kevin Martin is Senior Vice President of Research Operations at Aberdeen Group and Omer Minkara is Research Associate at Aberdeen Group

Pic: sludgegulper cc2.0