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The Role of the Datanista on the Customer Journey: How to Harness Psychic Prowess for Competitive Advantage

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pedowitzgroupI once heard an honest marketer say he would rather stand in a cold shower tearing up $100 bills than work with data. This sentiment is widely shared across the B2B marketing universe;  however, the data tsunami is crashing over our heads. You have no choice except to embrace data as your friend and job enabler or perish.

Nowhere is data more important than when mapping, understanding and optimizing the customer journey. When I talk about the customer journey, I am referring to the entire customer lifecycle as depicted in the TPG ONE™ model.  The left side of the model illustrates a customer acquisition practice and the right side of the model represents a customer expansion practice. Holistically, they represent the entire customer life cycle.

customer journey

I’ve worked with hundreds of marketing organizations, and can look at their relationship to data and tell you how successful they are in operationalizing a true customer journey initiative. There are four types of “Datanistas,” each of which can characterize by the quality of their data, their campaign impact and customer insight impact. The four Datanista types are:

  1. The Blissfully Ignorant
  2. The Data Bug
  3. The Triple D: Data Driven Decision Maker
  4. The Psychic

The Blissfully Ignorant (BI) Datanista

This is the marketer with the quote about tearing up $100 dollar bills in the shower. As an old school marketer, this type of Datanista avoids data at all costs and believes marketing is a creative art, not a scientific one. The BI Datanista has no concept of the customer journey, which is reflected in the state of data, campaign structure and available customer insights.

The data state in this type of marketing organization is disorganized, dysfunctional, siloed, dirty and ignored.  These data conditions impact campaign performance in a big way.  The BI Datanista is all about traditional email campaigns revolving around what the company wants to say and providing a constant disruption to the prospect’s workspace. Most campaigns are not directed anywhere on the TPG ONE model, although some affect the left side. These campaigns are mostly reactive and one-offs. In addition, the only campaign measurement is “We got one out the door, and wow, doesn’t that font style pop!”

Because of the state of the data, even if the BI Datanista wanted to be customer focused, it would not be possible. As a result, no customer insights are generated from marketing. What a missed opportunity as marketing sits on a ton of customer data. Moving on to the next Datanista type.

Also Read: The Right Time for the Millennial Marketer

The Data Bug (DB) Datanista

OMG – who knew data could actually help us do our job better?” is a typical comment from the DB Datanista. The data state, campaign approach and customer insight gets very interesting with this type of marketer. In this stage, the use of data to make campaign and program decisions is basic, but improving quickly. Digital body language data such as opens, click-throughs, number of pages visited on the website, etc., now become part of the dataset. Data cleaning, enrichment and ongoing hygiene are becoming a common practice. This data focus allows the DB Datanista to begin tracking and measuring campaign performance. She introduces testing, optimization, triggers, and personalization. Campaign metrics are moving towards revenue and ROI as they encompass the number of leads generated and the lead conversion rate. Sadly, the majority of campaign work still occurs on the left side of the TPG ONE model.

This interest and use of basic data in campaign optimization allows the DB Datanista to begin to accumulate an understanding of the customer in a unique way and valuable for the organization. The DB Datanista is beginning to recognize the value in the reams of customer data at her fingertips and to begin to consider both sides of the TPG ONE model as appropriate stomping grounds.

Also Read: How Marketing Ops Runs Marketing Like a Business

The 3D Datanista:  Data Driven Decision Maker

“Who knew data was power?” is a typical comment from the 3D Datanista. The 3D Datanista is a true data scientist who eats, breathes and lives data typically as a part of a dedicated marketing operations team. The state of data is constantly evolving and data silos are beginning to break down, allowing for tantalizing glimpses into the entire customer lifecycle. Data governance for marketing is in place and data normalization is standardized. Good data flow exists between marketing automation and other marketing platforms, as well as with CRM.

As a result of this data competency, the 3D Datanista’s impact on campaigns and the customer journey is measurable and important. In this environment, campaigns are data-driven to deliver the right message, at the right time, to the right person and in the right channel. This data environment enables more sophisticated engagements such as ABM and the use of AI. Campaign performance and impact in terms of contribution to pipeline and closed business is measurable, specific, transparent and believable. In addition, campaigns occur on the left and right side of the TPG ONE model as the holistic customer journey is revealed. The 3D Datanista advocates for a holistic, cross-company approach to customer intimacy that is centrally managed.

Also Read: How Marketing Operations Affects Marketing Accountability

The Psychic Datanista

“I have a seat and a voice at the table” is a typical comment heard from the Psychic Datanista. Key characteristics of the data state include networked data sources, strong data governance and normalization across the set of data networks and ongoing data optimization. Data is seen as the lifeblood for marketing success and customer data is seen as the lifeblood for company success. This advanced data ecosystem allows marketing to further mature the campaign practices to now include multi-channel and ABM in a predictive model of performance and financial results. In this type of marketing organization, marketing owns the customer journey and is responsible for mining and analyzing data to create and share actionable customer intelligence in almost real time. The Psychic Datanista predicts results and works with every part of the company that is customer facing.


For the B2B marketer, leading the pivot to customer intimacy as a competitive strategy is real AND really hard to operationalize. Data – having it, using it, mining it, sharing it and optimizing it – is your #1 competitive advantage and predictor of customer journey success.  Look at the state and health of your data ecosystem and determine how you can use data to become a 3D or a Psychic Datanista.

Also Read: Core Organizational Ingredients of the Ever-Expanding Marketing Operations Function

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