Data - Driven Decisions: How Analytics is Revolutionizing Marketing Strategies

By: Chandani Parihar, Marketing Director, Nutreco South Asia

Chandani Parihar is a veterinary graduate from G.B. Pant University, Pantnagar. Post her graduation she completed masters in Agri-Business Management from MANAGE, Hyderabad during which she gained experience in the Big Four – PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers). She is responsible for handling the brands Trouw Nutrition and Skretting while also contributing to strategic projects including Mergers & Acquisitions and investments into Indian startups in animal and aqua nutrition.

In a conversation with Women Entrepreneur Magazine, Chandani shared her views and thoughts on what role innovation plays in marketing strategies and also shared how business professionals approach competitor analysis and how it influences marketing decisions.

How should one leverage data and analytics to make informed marketing decisions and optimize campaigns?

I strongly believe that data and analytics are key to successful campaigns whether online or offline.  It is important to identify the right Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the various medium/channels of campaigns which match the business needs.  It is equally important to assess and align all the stakeholders on what success will look like for each KPI.  I also suggest that KPI tracking should not be limited to only quantitative measures, a common trap especially when we try to capture numbers for our analysis.  Qualitative feedback helps in continuous improvement of the processes and brings more emotional/human touch to the campaigns for more impact.  As an example, for our offline campaigns like seminars we have quantitative matrices like number of leads, number of attendees and we also have qualitative measures like feedback on impact of the seminar, quality of speakers etc.  Once we have the KPIs in place, it is easier to analyze the data; capturing past performances and generating insights from feedbacks on deviations and results.  Online campaigns make it even easier to leverage the data and analytics due to inbuilt analytics whether it is GoTo Webinar or social media campaigns (Facebook, LinkedIn etc).

What role does innovation play in marketing strategies, and how can we encourage a culture of innovation within the marketing team?

Innovation is extremely important esp. if we want to remain relevant in today’s fast-changing and uncertain conditions.  I also tell my team that innovation is often mistaken to be one big novel idea that can be a game changer, but it is also about bringing innovation to our day-to-day processes and looking for opportunities in already existing systems.  The basic framework in marketing with ATL, BTL, TTL or exploring PESTEL, SWOT, 4 P’s etc. have mostly remained constant, innovation in marketing strategies can be brought only when we are close to our customers and understand their requirement.  Many a times even within customer segments, we try to explore how the strategies can be modified to make it more relevant for individual customers.  This is obviously easier in a niche segment with a smaller number of customers; however, we need to have the clarity of business requirement and resources available.  It is also important to keep a keen eye on market trends and be more adaptable (adapting new changes) as well as flexible (bringing changes to strategy to remain relevant).  To encourage a culture of innovation within my team, I do ensure that we keep open conversation in our working and during our review meetings each member is given the opportunity to speak about what they think can be “fresh idea”.  I also ask my team to keep on learning from other industries; there is a vast ocean of different industries which can be learning opportunities for us.

How should companies approach customer segmentation and targeting to ensure the marketing efforts are reaching the right audience effectively?

When we initiate our operating plans for the subsequent years, we always start with exercises on customer segmentation, targeting and positioning with the demand teams.  It shows how important continuously monitoring our accounts/customers and reviewing the market is.  Customer segmentation and targeting starts with defining how you view the existing universe of customers based on your objectives.  A basic segmentation proposed by Philip Kotler is helpful.  In B2B, potential mapping of customers, past sales trend, and future forecasts form a core basis of customer segmentation.  Once the customer segments are clear, basis your product portfolio you need to assess the volume-value generation from each segment.  For e.g., a typical ABC classification could mean that A category customers generate volume and not necessarily margins while B and C are more value generators.  Understanding of the segments drives marketing efforts and helps to develop the right marketing mix for e.g., separate engagement criteria for Key accounts, Influencers etc.  It is important to have an annual calendar of marketing and review the same on monthly basis and align resources accordingly. 

How do business professionals approach competitor analysis, and how does it influence marketing decisions?

Building strategy requires one to have right market information and competitor analysis is one of the critical elements for the same.  While I do recommend that it is more important to know who we are what we stand for and how we want to approach our customers, but we also need be aware about market.  I see that competitor analysis has two major impacts on marketing decision: first is in defining product portfolio or product designing and second is on communication of the products.  While for any organization deciding product mix always starts with understanding the customer need but portfolio defining takes a big cue from competitor analysis as well. Competitor analysis is also important for taking a decision on pricing and understanding market trends.  Field teams are the ears and eyes of organization and provide feedback on competitors; secondary sources can also serve as knowledge points.  However, I would also like to highlight that competitor intelligence should be within the limits of ethics and compliance policies of any organization and data gathered should be publicly available.

What will be your suggestions for young professionals who want to explore their career in marketing?

Marketing is a very dynamic field and offers many opportunities from content writing, creative designing, digital marketing to brand management. My suggestion to young professionals is that one needs to be passionate about the role; passion can drive creativity and innovation which are important in these roles.  Learning on the go and drive for results is overall important for any role.  It is also important to remain functionally updated with learning’s on new tools, concepts, applications, and digital innovations.