Why art of marketing is a data-driven science

The effective use of data can make marketing more predictable and answerable.

Marketing is often seen as a bellwether for the general economy. First to be cut in a downturn, first to revive in an upturn. Yet it is not a simple indicator. To reach 1 million people through TV advertising is expensive; to reach them by email ridiculously cheap. You would be hard pressed to get to 1 million prospects through search engine marketing alone, but search has a fantastic cost per sale.

To decide where budgets should be deployed, data is the only place to look. Any decision or reporting on what right-sized marketing should look like needs to begin and end in information about the market, customers and prospects.

One thing many visitors to the Data Marketing Show will want to know is how consumer buying behaviour has changed.

Recently appointed managing director of loyalty scheme Nectar, Jan-Pieter Lips, is presenting on “The Balancing Act” that marketers must now perform (30 June, 2pm-3pm). As marketers look to optimise their expenditure, he will discuss how to use data to choose the right channels, messages and targets.

Exhibitors at the show will have a raft of products and services that align with similar marketing needs. Equifax is demonstrating its disConnect, reConnect and ConnectSelect data sets that allow a company to track lapsed customers and re-engage them. It also offers a similar product for business-to-business needs.

“We are now in a very different marketing environment and that needs different approaches to achieve success,” says Graham Burdett, sales director at Equifax Marketing Services. The company is sponsoring the Data Clinic, where visitors can consult its experts.

Experian Integrated Marketing also has a substantial presence in support of Experian Elements, its marketing database and campaign management solution. Visitors can also hear Colin Grieves, EIM’s director of data strategy, run a workshop on the value of data for customer enhancement and how insight can be used to retain and grow customers during a recession.

Putting data at the heart of the marketing department is still an innovative strategy and not one that has been widely adopted. Part of the slow uptake is the scale of reconfiguration required within a business to make this approach effective. As a result, Simon Kaffel, data and analysis director at BSkyB, will be explaining how his company has designed a marketing data department to support tough growth targets (June 30, 12pm-1pm).

Sky has embraced the information revolution, says Kaffel, who will talk about how the restructuring of the data department is helping Sky meet its goal of 10 million subscribers by 2010.

A similar story can also be heard from Richard Harris, vice-president of acquisition at American Express Services Europe (International Consumer Card & Small Business Services) in his presentation on developing insight to inform channel and communication strategies (July 1 12pm-1pm). He will look at the use of different sources of internal and external data in campaign development and how such activity should be measured.

One of the most notable developments inside data-driven marketing departments has been the explosion of supporting technology. Marketing was one of the last major functions to get productivity and workflow tools. Now it is hard to imagine how the job could be done without them.

The show will also give marketers access to a wide range of technology vendors, from Alterian and Apteco FastStats to Neolane, Portrait Software and The Software Bureau. Among the innovations on show will be the newly integrated Alterian suite to support “the engagement cycle”, new visualisation tools in FastStats and the campaign manager and customer analytics modules in Portrait.

Much of the way data can be used to drive effective marketing still needs to be explained, however, especially why funds should be invested in technology. To this end, Portrait Software’s Dr Neil Skilling is presenting on “recession-busting marketing”.

This economy is bleak and companies are working to do more with less. Marketers need to break away from traditional thinking to recession-proof their campaigns and optimise customer retention

Dr Neil Skilling, Portrait Software

“This economy is bleak and companies are working to do more with less,” says Skilling. Marketers need to break away from traditional thinking to recession-proof their campaigns and optimise customer retention. The art of marketing is evolving into a data-driven science.”

Nowhere is this more evident than in the progress that has been made around marketing evaluation.

But probably the most complete and wide-ranging attempt to understand the effectiveness of marketing activity has been undertaken by the Central Office of Information (COI). Its Artemis tool has become the critical service for planning campaigns by departments and assessing whether they have achieved the desired behavioural change.

Marc Michaels, director of direct and relationship marketing at COI, closes the conference programme with a session on the need for holistic evaluation in Government marketing (1 July, 2pm-3pm). His presentation examines the costs of communication, the stages of the citizen response journey and the value of the behavioural change outcomes that are sought.

This is a big move on from gut-feel marketing. What organisations want to do now is make marketing predictable and answerable, which means using more data, more effectively. As BSkyB’s Kaffel says, this is one of the big objectives now for his brand: “There is a definite will and desire to do it.”

The Data Marketing Show, part of Marketing Week Live, takes place on 30 June-1 July 2009 at Olympia, London.

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