The Data Struggle Is Real: What We Learned at Argyle’s Digital Marketing Forum

Nearly 100 marketing leaders and executives from Fortune 100 companies gathered for a day of robust and challenging discussion at the Argyle Executive Leadership in Digital Marketing Forum last Wednesday at The Standard Club in downtown Chicago.

As a partner of the forum, Networked Insights was thrilled to discuss possible solutions to the “data rich, information poor” conundrum with companies like JLL, Discover and Redbox.

Conversations focused on the primary challenge marketers are now facing: discerning actionable insight and plans from the abundance of data marketers have available to them. Many also wondered how to develop personalized content and in what way can marketers use data to develop efficient targeting strategies.

Here’s our rundown of the day’s conversations, including some great words of wisdom we were lucky enough to capture from some of the most innovative marketers in the game.

“Data Rich, Information Poor”

Networked Insights sat down with Jennifer Alberts, Senior Vice President of Global Digital Marketing at JLL to glean how they remain competitive and efficient.

Alberts said her team is continually innovating their marketing efforts, so they built and bought programs to capture information on their customers and audiences. But eventually it culminated to one conclusion:

“We had all this data, coming in from five different sources and we didn’t know what to do with it,” Alberts said.

In fact, throughout the entire day, each conversation regardless of where it began technology, personalization, content returned to the struggle of having so much data and not knowing how to apply it to a strategy, or content pieces or even better targeting. The point is, Alberts wasn’t alone.

Networked Insights quote graphics. "Imagine the possibilities for better targeting and audience awareness when you have a constant ability to tap into vital data and insight." Right audience. Right content. Right results.

To respond to the challenge, she relied on the expertise of a third party and determined a solutionpull the data being collected into a CRM and look for patterns, clues and insights.

“We…suddenly found these people [that] we weren’t talking to, but were going to our website, so we began campaigns around them,” she said.

Even though JLL found success with the support of a third-party, there is still concern about using third-party data, but Alberts was vehement about her choice.

“We have used third-party data for strategy and technology skills,” Alberts said. “We’ve found it beneficial because sometimes we don’t have the skill set in-house at the exact moment when we need it.”

Alberts added that using another company like Networked Insights, provides another view that may otherwise have been missed.

Networked Insights quote graphic: JLL "We have used third-party data for strategy and technology skills. We've found it beneficial because sometimes we don't have the skill set in house  at the moment." Jennifer Alberts

Also, she said, bringing in another viewpoint or data set helps companies stay relevant by always being aware of what else is available since it is impossible physically monitor everything in-house. Finally, she mentioned that finding the right insights via outside resources can help build additional political capital within the company.

“Customization at Scale”

Digging deeper into the implications of data and insight, much of the conversation at the Forum touched on how brands can be more relevant to their audience.

Stacie Levy, Global Director of Content Strategy and Integration at Kerry Group, pointed out that marketers need to acknowledge via their content that people, audiences, and consumers understand that brands and agencies have access to publicly available data on them. As a result, they expect to be delivered a personalized experience, no matter the product or service.

“Personalization is what matters, not competing and differentiation.,” said Levy “It’s creating a unique experience that sets you apart.” 

When marketers use this type of thinking, Levy explained, the content possibilities are infinite and brands need to look at developing strategies around “customization at scale.”

Networked Insights quote graphic: "personalization is what matters not competing and differentiation. it's creating a unique experience that sets you apart." Stacie Levy Kerry Group

Rob Cook, director of marketing and customer experience at Discover echoed Levy and said there isn’t a delineation anymore between the physical and digital experience. It’s all marketing and and it better be relevant to the consumer.

“You don’t determine your brand, your consumer does,” Cook said.

When building a strategy, Levy said, it’s better not to focus on what other companies are doing. Instead, she said, marketers should create tailored experiences to build an emotional connection to their consumers. When the thought process begins like this, she said,  the usefulness of all that data being curated becomes invaluable.

“End the War between Sales and Marketing”

To be effective executing this new outlook, there needs to be collaboration and buy-in from all customer-impacting teams like, sales, product, marketing and customer experience.

Networked Insights quote graphic: "Customers don't view digital and physical separately. They're one space." Rob Cook at Discover

While one side creates a solution, another develops personalized content. Then the other needs to bring that to the consumer in a way that adds value and the final team needs to ensure the consumer is responding positively that the tailored content and value is indeed evocative of them.

“If you as a marketer don’t own product, you don’t own marketing,” said Ash ElDifrawi, chief marketing and customer experience officer at Redbox. “If you’re not in control of how the consumer uses and feels about your product, then you’re not able to truly sell your product.”

The sales team, marketing team and customer experience, ElDifrawi said, all need to have a seat at the same table to understand all the stages of the product or service to deliver an experience that is relevant and repeated by the consumer.

Conversations in Practice

So what did we learn at Argyle?

In a nutshell, innovation is the key to brand longevity. Developing better data sources, translating them into actionable insights with efficiency, and producing an experience that a consumer feels is intended solely for them – that’s the game right now.

To get in touch with Networked Insights and find out how we can help you do that, visit