NEW YORK: Brands seeking to build out their analytics capabilities should consider using a "high-profile, high-priority area" as a test case to help secure buy in from other departments, a leading executive has argued.

Justin Croft, manager/brand platforms at C Spire - the telecoms group - discussed this subject after winning the 2014 Marketing Analytics Leadership Award, a competition launched by MarketShare, the analytics firm.

"There's nothing wrong with setting out to build a marketing analytics program, but all the stakeholders should be aligned on a problem that's core to your strategy," he said. (For more, including tips from Intel and Citrix, read Warc's exclusive report: Putting data to work: Insights from the 2014 Marketing Analytics Leadership Award.)

"Pick a high-profile, high-priority area that everyone will be thrilled to have insight into. Then the skillsets, resources and technologies will flow from there."

C Spire has yielded the benefits that come with rigorous analytics by creating a "predictive next-best action system" which is integrated across all of its customer touchpoints.

This system led it to win the Marketing Analytics Leadership Award, which was run in partnership with the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and Advertising Research Foundation (ARF). Warc and Advertising Age were the contest's media partners.

By using its bespoke platform, C Spire has achieved broad reach for offers, optimised marketing messages to suit specific audiences and fuelled return on investment in terms of customer retention, upselling and service.

"In general," Croft observed, "analytics gives brand marketers justifiable, defendable results that they can use to make sound, fact-based decisions about their business.

"That also helps to make decisions more relatable to non-marketers - it makes it easier to explain an investment to accounting, for example."

Looking at the analytics function overall, he suggested that the "breadth of topics and challenges" which experts in the discipline are expected to address has increased dramatically in the last few years.

More specifically, they are now required to move beyond duties such as marketing mix modelling into areas including in-depth segmentation, social-media and drawing on sensor and log data.

Generally, the bulk of problems "can be solved with the data you use every day", like that concerning transactions and customer behaviour, Croft reported.

The real challenge involves achieving the necessary level of "focus and understanding" that truly effective analytics demands on an on-going basis, he added.

Data sourced from Warc