The question of how to leverage big data has inspired conferences, university courses and degrees — and CMOs in sore need of guidance on how to get smarter about what all those numbers are saying.

Ultimately, what each organization needs is its own analytics system that is focused on customer behavior. The system should be actionable, future-facing and support the organization’s broader strategy.

To make better business decisions, managers should be able to answer marketing questions by taking the following steps:

  1. Determine which data are relevant.
  2. Select the appropriate technique for analysis.
  3. Perform the analysis to gain insights on the relationship between marketing activities and customer behavior.
  4. Use predictive models based on experiments or historic information to simulate hypothetical situations, in order to identify the ideal combination of marketing activities — the “marketing mix.”
  5. Link insights and the optimal marketing mix to wise marketing decisions.

Read more about Professor Rajkumar VenkatesanPaul W. Farris and Ronald T. Wilcox’s book Cutting-Edge Marketing Analytics: Real World Cases and Data Sets for Hands-On Learning in “The Marketing Analytics Silver Bullet,” part of Professor Kimberly A. Whitler’s series on

Professor Venkatesan teaches in the Executive Education program Strategic Marketing Analytics: Leveraging Big Data. In this course for working marketing leaders, participants learn how to determine which of their marketing activities are measurably improving sales and profits.