Express interview with Mary Owusu, VP of Digital Strategy & Analytics at Mower
This fast and furious interview with Mary Owusu will take you less than five minutes to read, but it will give you a vivid vision of the future of digital analytics from the point of view of an experienced practitioner.
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As always, thanks to Mariia Bocheva, who held this interview with Mary. Mariia met Mary at this year’s Marketing Analytics Summit in Las Vegas. We recommend that you read about what happened at that event right after you read this interview.
Experience and skills
Mariia Bocheva: It’s a pleasure to talk with you, Mary. The first question I’d like to ask is about your experience. Could you share what you’re currently responsible for and what brought you there?
Mary Owusu: I’m Vice President of Digital Strategy and Analytics at Mower, a full-service marketing, public relations, and advertising agency with nine locations across the eastern US. My team is responsible for all things digital measurement. Highlights of our client list include Ford, Mattel, and FedEx. I am also an Assistant Professor of Marketing at Canisius College, where I’ve taught digital marketing to undergraduate and MBA students since 2012. My career started in web development, quickly shifted to search marketing with a focus on SEO, ventured into full-scale digital marketing, and eventually delved into digital analytics. I still take on the occasional SEO client to fulfill my passion. My past employers have spanned complex B2B global firms to consumer-focused e-tailer businesses. I have experienced analytics from multiple points of view including agency, in-house, consulting, and academia.
MB: That’s a huge amount of experience you’ve got! Maybe you have some insights into what skill set you need to have such success. What hard and soft skills are most important for analysts today?
MO: Considering hard skills, you need business acumen, actual hands-on expertise with a digital analytics program like Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, and optimization programs, and skills in R or Python for the data-science tasks.
By taking the time to understand the whole business problem, an analyst can have a bigger impact on the whole company, — not just tracking KPIs. When the marketing team and analytics team align on the organization’s desired business outcomes, it opens the door to teamwork, collaboration, and brainstorming new and better ways to achieve the goal at hand.
Some analysts are very technically inclined and do very well with programming languages, while others are analytical strategists who prefer to set sound analytics strategies that ensure the business needs are being addressed by the technical work. Organizations need both.
MB: And what about soft skills?
MO: I think any good analyst or marketer must be a good listener, empathic, and open-minded.
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Communication challenges and how to overcome them
MB: That’s totally true, but is that enough to avoid miscommunication between analysts and marketing teams? Do you have any recommendations on how to overcome it?
MO: I developed a framework for this called Marketing Success Plans that companies around the world are using. These Success Plans are tangible measurement strategies that inspire dialogue between the business, the marketer, and the analyst.
Ultimately, the plan is a physical, tangible measurement for the project at hand, and it aligns marketing metrics to desired business outcomes while defining the core KPIs and tagging or tracking requirements.
MB: That’s interesting. I have one more question considering marketing and analytics teams. What knowledge are analysts and marketing specialists missing in order to make companies data-driven?
MO: The organization’s desired business outcomes! What keeps the CEO up at night? What about the board? The CFO? If analysts and marketers can tap into these insights, we can step away from transactional KPIs and focus instead on North Star Metrics that align with financial metrics such as EBITDA, customer lifetime value, and attrition, to name a few.
MB: You’re totally right. Connecting an analyst’s everyday tasks or a marketer’s tasks with business goals is a must for all successful companies. By the way, what are the most important things analysts need to do at different stages of an organization’s maturity to help the business grow?
MO: No matter which stage, the key point is that as analysts, our main job is to find ways to pursue the desired business outcomes that matter to the organization as a whole. We should never allow our work to be self-serving. Analytics for analytics’ sake or for marketing’s sake is not helpful to anyone.
Digital analytics challenges
MB: Let’s talk about your current position. What analytical challenges do you have at your company right now? What tools do you need to overcome them?
MO: Long story short, we expect to build a full omnichannel view of our campaign’s performance complete with reliable attribution, online and offline, and cross-device interactions. I can dream, can’t I? [laughing]
MB: These dreams can be so true! Maybe some of the outbound factors slow down the whole implementation. What difficulties do you see when it comes to implementing analytics and how would you assess the overall development of the market?
MO: GDPR, ITP2, and other data privacy-related advancements continue to transform the way analysts and marketers track users and their behaviors. This is quite a challenge for all modern marketing analysts, and it will take years to resolve it with equal consideration for privacy and corporate interests.
Most trends in the analytics market are connected with the preponderance of data in our world. But for data analysis to be accurate, meaningful, and lead to better customer experiences, we need the myriad of platforms, publishers, and tools to stop operating in walled gardens and start working together. Waste continues to be a real issue for marketers, costing organizations billions of dollars annually, not only in advertising dollars but also in time spent analyzing bad data.
Future of analytics
MB: And what do you think is the future of marketing analytics? What trends do you see coming and what’s in high demand?
MO: The marketing landscape will continue to require marketers to understand the unique engagements of unique individuals across the entire marketing mix, online and offline. Marketers who adopt a unified marketing measurement strategy to tie disparate measurement models like media mix modeling and digital attribution into one cohesive view are the ones who will be able to provide the insights needed for personalization and predictable conversion.
To sum up
Like a true scientist, Mary highlighted the most thrilling challenges of modern analytics that all of us are trying to overcome. In doing so, we’re always working at the intersection of ethics, technologies, and tools.
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