Janet is President and CEO of data-first digital marketing agency Marketing Mojo and focuses on measuring marketing success.

Amid the pandemic, data — its collection, its accuracy and the insights we gain from it — may have never been more paramount. But the accuracy of data collection is important for more than just public health — it’s important to how we run our businesses, too. Data is prevalent, almost overwhelmingly so, for marketers. Many marketers aim to be “data-driven,” but what does that really mean? And are we collecting and interpreting our own marketing data correctly?

It’s arguable that measuring marketing’s success is more critical than ever. In an uncertain time when many budgets have been stripped and businesses are reticent to invest in marketing because of economic uncertainty, marketers face reduced investment and job insecurity. According to Forrester, over 52,000 advertising jobs are at risk due to the Covid-19 pandemic through 2021, and it’s expected that agencies will see negative growth over the next year. So how can we compete and win with such a daunting outlook?

While it’s been fashionable to describe ourselves as data-driven, we often rely on data points that can’t directly demonstrate an impact on the organization’s revenue. This oversight in measuring and connecting marketing and sales data often leads other departments to perceive marketing as a cost center versus a revenue center. According to the 2018 State of Pipeline Marketing Report, more than half of the marketers surveyed said that marketing is perceived as a cost center in their organization.

They may be right. In a 2016 Chief Marketer article, the authors cited a study that found that over 50% of C-suite executives “didn’t think that the company’s marketing expenditure was even significantly driving top-line revenue, never mind bottom-line profits.” So how do