The B2B marketing data lake: a book review

An avatar of the author

Doug Kessler

14. 06. 2016 | 4 min read

The B2B marketing data lake: a book review

4 mins left

Get the newsletter

Raw, unfiltered, too-hot-for-Wordpress B2B marketing insights, straight to your inbox, every month.

As a precious creative snowflake, I should probably be shitting myself about the rise of marketing operations and the supremacy of data.

But as an owner of a B2B marketing agency (and, let’s face it, as a closet geek), I’m thrilled.

Because Velocity is not really in the business of creating and executing content strategies for our clients. We’re in the business of helping our clients make money. And, today, the single biggest obstacle to doing that is data fragmentation, ineffective marketing operations and poor data management (which is why our Content Operations practice – think of it as marketing automation meets analytics meets CRM – is the fastest growing part of our business).

We have seen the future of marketing and it is data.

As an agency, it’s important that we stay a few steps ahead of our clients on the most important learning curves in B2B marketing (so we don’t feel like a fraud when we advise them). And, in general, we’ve just about managed to do that.

But when it comes to marketing data management, one of our clients is way ahead of us – and has written a book about it (we helped, in our own humble ways).

The book is called The Marketing Data Lake and it’s a primer on how B2B marketing should be done today.

I don’t want to spoil the story for you – it’s a cracking read – but here’s a gist-sized nugget, summarising what Franz Aman, Anish Jariwala, Laura Wang and the Informatica team have accomplished:

  • Integrated their web analytics, marketing automation and CRM.
  • Pumped it through a predictive analytics engine to score propensity to buy.
  • Cleaned and mastered all that data.
  • Dumped it into a Data Lake – a newfangeld kind of data warehouse that I’ll explain below.
  • Slapped a dashboard on the top.
  • Started building solutions to specific use cases that add major value to the business.

A pretty big deal

I remember when Franz first showed me an early version of his data lake project. I think I was bragging about some nifty little integration that our marketing ops people and developers had done for a client (a Marketo/Wordpress forms manager – very cool).

Franz gave me his calm smile (think Mona Lisa but male and German) and opened his laptop.

I was utterly gobsmacked.

These guys had achieved a level of transparency and integration that I’d only seen in vendor hypeware:

  • They could track prospects from first, anonymous web visit right through to revenue.
  • They could actually see which parts of their marketing mix worked and which ones just sucked away budget.
  • They could report all the activity in any named account, across all  touchpoints – giving a heads-up to their sales development reps and improving prospecting dramatically.
  • They could spin up new use cases in a few days – things like treating an abandoned ‘Contact Us’ form like a retailer treats an abandoned shopping cart (with impressive results).

For the first time, a B2B team could be completely accountable for the revenue it generated.

The marketing data lake

The foundation of this new marketing world was a marketing data lake – a data repository built on a low-cost, distributed infrastructure (Hadoop if you’re asking).

There’s one fundamental difference between a data lake and an old-school, traditional data warehouse: the warehouse is a ‘schema-on-write’ database while the lake uses a ‘schema-on-read’ approach.

With schema-on-write, you have to decide how to structure all your data when you build the warehouse, before you load the data in. That means you pretty much need to know what’s important to you and what kinds of queries you’ll be running. In advance.

With schema-on-read, you just dump all your data into the lake and structure it later, on demand, when you build a use case, create a dashboard or run a query.

That sounds like a small technical feature but it’s actually a profound difference with huge implications for marketers.

The bottom line is agility. While the data warehouse is optimized for penny-perfect financial reporting, the data lake is optimized for the messy, streaming, multi-structured data that marketers live with every day.

It means you can capture all your important data – from web click streams to email opens to webinar registrations to sales calls to purchases – in one place. And analyse it to your heart’s content whenever and however you like.

In the Marketing Data Lake book (which started with a blog series called Naked Marketing), Franz and Anish have completely opened their box of tricks, sharing the details of their big data marketing journey.

The first run of the physical book is pretty much gone. Right now, it’s available free as a PDF (behind a form), but a reprint is in the works, so you’ll be able to buy a copy – or a copy for each member of your team.

This is an important moment in B2B marketing. The Marketing Data Lake book shares a practical, data-driven approach to B2B marketing that shows the way forward.

Dive in to the Lake.


I should also comment on the value of a real, published book as a powerful weapon in your B2B content marketing arsenal.

I know this one took a hell of a lot of work but it’s already playing a big role in the launch and roll-out of Informatica’s marketing data lake product.

If you want to plant a big, colourful flag  in the middle of a market… write a book.

Published in:

  • data lake

  • marketing data integration

  • marketing data lake

  • marketing operations

Enjoyed this article?
Take part in the discussion

Opt into our crap

We will send the latest stuff written just for B2B content marketers exactly like you. Sound good?

illustration of a an envolope

Related blog/content

How to break free from the benchmark trap

If you’re turning to industry benchmarks to set your performance goals – make sure you’re asking these two questions.

Agustin Rejon | 06. 09. 2023


There are no comments yet for this post. Why not be the first?

Leave a comment/reply

Hey look: a teeny-tiny cookie request. Would you mind? It’d help us out. Click here to read our privacy policy to see why. Or hit “customize” if you’re fancy like that.