Most marketers today know that it’s crucial to be data-driven. But, there are still some significant challenges to solve before achieving true transformation in this regard.

Considering that marketers use, on average, more than 12 different tools to manage their data efforts, it’s clear that this area of business transformation is still evolving. This has made it harder for companies looking to hire outside help. In a world busy with buzzwords that is still struggling to find its footing, there are four key “personality” characteristics to look for in an analytics partner team:

  1. The Ability to Listen Actively

Every marketer has her or his own business goals and customer base–and the top analytics firms are capable of weaving data insights they glean into that particular business context. An agency that applies a one-size-fits-all approach to its analytics operations may well possess a great deal of data expertise, but if it fails to deploy this expertise in a manner that is sensitive to its client’s market and audience, it will struggle to deliver the impactful results. So, look for a team who spends time actively, and energetically, immersing themselves in your brand.

  1. The Ability to Craft A Story

The primary objective of data-driven insight is to illuminate the divide between hard data and the context it’s borrowed from. The best teams have the ability to infer the key insight from the mere changes in performance—and this ability borrows from the traditional structure of the narrative.

  1. The Ability to Collaborate

While the work of analytics is best done in solitude, ultimately the results must be presented to a larger group. In that moment, it’s almost inevitable that even more insight comes to light. An analyst’s ability to collaborate—with brand marketers, with agency partners, and with other analysts—is a real and true indicator of what their partnership will be like in the long-term.

  1. The Ability to Commit to Outcome-Based Accountability

While the billable hour may be in many cases be inescapable, brands should make a point to hold analytics firms accountable for their performance — or lack thereof. It’s easy for a team of experienced data experts to churn out a high volume of “outputs” or “deliverables,” but these are not necessarily grounded in good data stewardship.

As such, it’s important to seek out analytics firms that offer in-depth, detailed outlines of the business outcomes they plan to achieve and the methods by which they plan to achieve them. Such an outline should go beyond boosting likes, shares, or views and present a comprehensive vision for how the firm will take data-driven insights and transform them into tangible results. Company stakeholders may not grasp every nuance of an analytics firm’s proposal, but they should be wary of firms that hesitate to promise concrete outcomes. In Analytics, as with so much in life, the devil is in the details.

Written by Allegra Mira

I lead the Data Strategy practice at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness, where I ensure strategic business insight for my clients by focusing on a balance of technical leadership and the subtle art of asking the right questions. As a data steward and a close partner to my clients, I am responsible for leading inter-agency efforts and building active teams. I pride myself in being able to bring out the best in the datasets *and* the technical teams I work with, to ensure a consultative level of insight which I bring to my clients. In the technical sense, my career path has taken me through leadership positions in digital analytics, media analytics (including paid search and SEO), business analytics, CRM & deployment rules, social media analytics and social listening, and primary research techniques based in survey design and harvesting customer-level data from the web.

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