Data driven marketing – is there any other kind?

Written by Jason Groom
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Originally published
April 5 2017,
May 27 2020

"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" While we don’t have the answer to that particular philosophical conundrum, it’ a question we could level at modern marketing. Because if we compose messages that don’t resonate, broadcast them to an audience that has no interest, and in turn fail to engage with our customers and prospects, are we marketing at all?

How it was

At one time we had an excuse. We relied on experience, gut-instinct, anecdotal evidence, trends and sales “spikes” to tell us that our campaigns were successful. That simply doesn’t wash any more. The technology exists to inform us, scientifically and in detail, what it is our customers want and how they want it delivered. Using data - whatever its size – drives effective marketing and optimal ROI. Here’s how:

By delivering customer insights

Knowing what our customers “look” like in demographic terms is key to understanding them. It means we can segment them, talk to them meaningfully in the right language, structure campaigns most likely to appeal to them utilising channels they prefer, offer products that are relevant and, critically, know how to find others with similar needs and wants that we can also target.

By facilitating attribution

The proliferation of marketing channels has made attribution ever more complicated. Knowing which touchpoint to assign credit to, or at least having a likely indication, means that campaigns can be tailored and additional weighting given to the most effective.

By making personalisation a reality

Customising every communication or brand experience to speak personally and directly to the customer improves their experience, maximises their spend and engenders greater loyalty. In fact, a McKinsey Study found that data-driven personalisation delivered five to eight times the ROI on marketing investment.

By helping with future forecasting

Understanding what worked last time aids prediction and forecasting, not just for the marketing team for future campaigns, but across the whole business in terms of customer preferences, product demand, price sensitivity, sales cycles, etc.

By aiding cross- and up-selling

The data relating to what a customer has already bought, and what he hasn’t, can shine a light on what he is likely, or unlikely, to buy in the future. Offering complementary or replacement products at a time, in a manner, even at a price, that resonates with him may pre-empt his search and knock our competitors out of the frame.

The “blast and broadcast” days of marketing should be behind us all and our default position instead “data-driven”. I propose we drop it as a prefix altogether. Do you agree?


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