All collected, not knowing anything: Why a data strategy is important in digital marketing

    |    Friday February 2nd, 2018

Digitisation hooray! Cloud computing, automation and big data. Everyone participates and everyone has heard that data is the most valuable raw material of the information age. However, the market is still in its infancy when it comes to the optimal use of data, as most companies still lack a professional data strategy. Thus the premise applies:”Collect first, then we see further”. This aimless data collating usually ends in the data jungle from which only a balanced data strategy leads out again.

In marketing, too, new strategies are inextricably linked to technology. It is therefore hardly surprising that the topic of data collection and data usage played a decisive role at the New Marketing Tech Summit recently. For around 37 percent of the branded animals, the topic of data strategy currently has top priority. After all, it is a matter of hard cash: For example, on behalf of Microsoft, IDC predicted a potential for business value added in Germany alone on the basis of data analyses amounting to USD 99 billion: It’s all about Data! But what constitutes a successful data strategy in marketing and how can it be implemented?

Structure follows Strategy

The structure of a company should follow its strategy – this is one of Alfred J. Chandler Jr.’s guiding principles of economics, which is still valid today in the field of digitization: Whether BMW, Tuifly, or Tesla Motors; large companies have a clear idea of how their marketing processes can be optimized by data analysis.

Medium-sized companies are also aware of the potential of the new technology and the temptation to approach data management from an IT point of view is great. However, experts strongly recommend that you first work out a data strategy before deciding to use a data management platform, for example. Unfortunately, it is precisely small and medium-sized companies that lack this structured roadmap and often even the idea of what a data strategy actually serves.

According to Benjamin Aunkofer, Lead Data Scientist and university lecturer, companies need a data strategy to “not get lost in big data or data science projects or start with the wrong projects”. The strategy is designed to avoid frustration and from the outset to ensure that the next floor up to the board level does not make big data projects meaningless and slash budgets.”

It is therefore obvious that a successful data strategy is based on synergies in the various departments. Only if IT, product management, marketing and sales, commercial decision-makers and data experts develop and pursue a common strategy for data-driven marketing can all relevant data sources be linked and evaluated in a meaningful way, so that everyone can ultimately benefit. According to Aunkhofer, a good data strategy remains “on the ground and has realistic goals, it is oriented to the circumstances and not to the future desires of individual visionaries”.

The right data strategy at any time at any place

Whether in campaign management, communication or product planning, especially branded animals can benefit from a successful data strategy and targeted data analysis. Asking the right questions provides valuable information about customers and markets. Thanks to these, products and services can then be adapted more quickly and effectively to individual circumstances. For example, through personalization in the sales approach along the entire customer journey, with location-based targeting or in the adspend.


When formulating a data strategy, stakeholders have to take many factors into account. The key question is: do we start from scratch or is it about realigning data-driven marketing? Do we pursue an offensive data strategy and are we as flexible and fast as possible? Or are we pursuing a more defensive strategy which is primarily concerned with security and trust? Do we want to control or outsource our data? First of all, it must be clear where to go and what the path is. Then you can think about how and by what means you are going down the road.

Tell me how a project starts and I’ll tell you how it ends
Benjamin Aunkhofer recommended Data Driven Thinking as a tried and tested method of approaching a strategy:”It’s the Design Thinking approach to using data to answer questions and solve related problems”. In this process, the participants think through their approach in five steps and get an idea of what data sources are available.


We will certainly see another explosion in data-driven services in the coming years. Branded animals will be faced with even more complex tasks than before, but they no longer have a choice. Without a professional data strategy and strong data management, companies will sooner or later no longer be able to meet their customers’ requirements. Small and medium-sized businesses should therefore take the helm as quickly as possible and try to catch up before it is too late.

First published 12/01/17 on: Netzpiloten

Lena Simonis is a specialist journalist for interactive design, technology, e-commerce, digital economy and education. Lives in Hamburg since 2003, where she worked as an editor for a cultural association, various specialist publishers, agencies and start-ups.