Big data used to be for IT managers, but now it is for marketers. Marketing departments, rather than IT teams, are often driving big data adoption, with the average company expecting to spend $8m (£5.1m) on big data-related initiatives across their businesses this year, according to management consultants AT Kearney. But few marketing teams are realising the full potential of data to help create more engaging campaigns.
Today, customers provide brands with lots of information about their interests and aspirations, so with big data measures in place, brands can use these insights to their advantage. By listening to what customers have to say, brands can respond with marketing that answers specific needs, generating sales while also building brand loyalty.
Efficient and connected marketing
As a result of big data insights, brands are now focused on marketing that is more efficient, connected and effective. For example, a data-driven approach led a car manufacturer to understand that consumers who spend more than a minute and 45 seconds on its website tend to buy a car within 10 days. The company then tailored its web content to move those users down the sales funnel and convert them into customers.
Armed with insights that prove return on investment and provide intelligence into sales and customer reactions, CMOs are using digital to redefine their marketing. In fact, research from insight company Gartner, which looked at marketing spend in 2014, reveals that 22% of companies are reducing spend on traditional sales support activities to fund digital marketing.
Today’s CMO is attempting to optimise the marketing engine with digital, because the buying journey for companies has changed in line with new media consumption habits. Digital is a measurable and targeted way to reach these hyper-connected audiences, who are connected to the web 24/7 and use numerous devices to view online media content.
We also work with broadcaster Sky Italia, which has used data to redefine its marketing through an ‘audience-first’ approach. With detailed data insights about customers, the company can identify specific audience segments and tailor its campaigns to that audience’s needs.
It can deliver highly relevant content to users when they visit the site because it is based on their personal preferences, in turn driving higher engagement. For example, football fans see its sports package and sitcom viewers receive highlights from popular family shows, winning audiences from the outset and turning browsers into subscribers.
Before insights like this, marketers gathered data on consumer behaviour through speaking to individuals – focus groups, test audiences and secret shoppers – but big data and analytics enables them to get a much more detailed, and therefore more accurate, picture. It is possible for marketers to see subtle patterns and granular insights into online behaviour because they are based on a vast amount of data.
Kraft is one company that uses huge amounts of data successfully; 98% of American households buy Kraft products, so the company has access to an incredible volume of anonymised data about its consumers, ranging from brand affinity and interests through to cohort and geography. We partner with Kraft to help them get under the skin of their vast audience’s complex shopping habits so that they can target new and existing customers successfully but also have the competitive edge.
To market sugar-free drink mix Crystal Light, which was in a product category that had stalled for around five years, Kraft recognised the need to target its customers with more relevant marketing. Data-driven insights led Kraft to develop a variety of messages about a range of its Crystal Light products, and deliver them to customers based on their prior online behaviour.
As a result of basing their marketing strategy on this data, brand favourability and purchase intent increased and return on advertising spend was much higher than on other campaigns.
Kraft’s story shows how big data can inform a campaign and make a meaningful difference to a brand’s bottom line. It’s an example of a brand knowing its customers and then using that insight to connect with them and drive sales through better targeting.
Using the right technology and agency
Kraft benefited from adopting a data-driven approach to marketing, but many marketers are holding back as they are not sure where to start. With so many insights at their fingertips, it is easy for today’s marketer to drown in a deluge of consumer information and not put the data they have to good use. One challenge for marketers is that they are likely to have access to information that is of varying quality and relevance. With too much ‘low quality, high quantity’ information being analysed by brands, data-driven marketing can seem complicated.
However, with the support of the right technology and agency partners, brands can use big data for long-term success. You and your agency partner will be able to learn from your brand’s results and see what is working and what needs to be fine-tuned. You can then look at where spend should be adjusted, and where messaging and creative can be refined and adapted to deliver a better, more engaging content experience for your audience.
For smart marketers, big data presents huge opportunities, so it is unsurprising that marketers are driving the big data initiative, rather than IT teams. Big data is a trove of actionable information about current and future customers, however knowing what to do with that information can be the headache. Interpret and action your insights correctly though and you can transform your relationships with customers, keep them coming back and ultimately, boost your bottom line. Big data is a vital part of any marketer’s arsenal – it’s time to turn it into big action.