Five steps to data-driven success

Consumers are accessing content across multiple devices at the same time and that means channel-based marketing is no longer as effective as it used to be. Turn’s Helen Miall says brands need to incorporate a data-driven approach to audience-based marketing to reach customers.

The idea of ‘audience-based’ marketing has gained serious traction in advertising circles lately. In its recent report ‘Making sense of new video consumption’, Forrester anticipates that audience composition metrics will, in the near future, resonate more strongly for prospective advertisers than traditional TV and video ratings. The increasing adoption of private deals also signals mounting interest on the part of advertisers for guaranteeing access to audiences not available on the open market.

In an era when consumers are accessing content across multiple devices at any given time, channel-based marketing does not work as well as it once did. Marketers are therefore increasingly looking across devices, channels, and platforms to find the customers that will add the most to their bottom line.

All this points to ‘audience’ emerging as a foundational concept for today’s marketer. An audience-based approach embraces your customers’ experience with your brand throughout their entire journey and allows you to reach customers at precisely the moments they will be most receptive to your message.

So how can you, as a marketer, maximise the probability that your brand or product will resonate with the audience that is receiving your advertising? By embracing data to drive your marketing and target precisely the audience you want, with relevant and timely messaging.

According to a recent survey conducted by Turn and Forbes Insights, marketers report having achieved significant competitive advantage as a result of data-driven marketing in everything from customer loyalty (47% of the time) to customer acquisition (43%), customer satisfaction (42%) increased revenue (34%) and more.

Data-driven marketing may sound like a big undertaking, but simply put it is the practice of employing data to achieve marketing goals and measure results. You do not have to be a Fortune 500 brand or even have a huge technology budget to realise the benefits. But you do have to approach data with an open mind. It is a shift in mindset, one that – if you do it well – stretches beyond marketing to touch every aspect of your business, no matter how big or small you are.

There are five steps every marketer can take toward data-driven success.

1. Start small

As seen in Turn’s recent Forbes Insights report, ‘Data driven and digitally savvy: the rise of the new marketing organisation’, most data-driven marketing takes place against websites. This  is because small-scale digital campaigns are relatively easy to launch and measure, and ultimately generate insights that can be applied to larger-scale initiatives.

Russell Glass, head of B2B product at LinkedIn, advises marketers to begin with baby steps. “Anyone can very inexpensively, or even for free, put analytics on their websites, and start to measure the difference between one campaign and another on traffic to their website,” says Glass. “That’s the start of having outcome-based responses.”

2. Get your management team onboard

The most successful data-driven marketers have buy-in from top managers, often including a company’s CEO. However, rather than talking drily about data it is often easier for others to grasp the concept of this approach if you are able to paint a picture of how it will effect the bottom line. For instance, if you are a retailer that is able to connect data from in-store or online experiences with your customer newsletter and advertising messages, you would be able to drive an increase in store or website traffic and subsequent purchase with appropriate messaging at the right moment. The power of the data touches people across the organisation, whether they are immediately customer-facing or behind the scenes.

Brands need to look beyond marketing metrics to sales, growth, customer acquisition and profitability to measure success of insights

3. Be prepared for surprises

Flexibility is another key to making data work for you – the analysis may throw up unexpected results, such as a new insight or direction that you had not previously considered.

For example, an entertainment company found that subscription customers who had also visited financial websites had a high probability of churn, as they may be in financial difficulties – an insight that enabled the company to adjust its subscription renewal messaging for that group of customers.

4. Stay focused on your customer

The conversation about data starts with audience – listen and learn from the nuances on audience behaviour and interest that data can pinpoint. One FMCG company uncovered a small difference in consumer behaviour that was unlikely to have been discovered through traditional market research, such as surveys or focus groups, that turned out to be incredibly important. This audience insight led them to alter website content strategy and tone and significantly increase consumer engagement.

5. Measure well

Tie your audience-based data-driven marketing to business results. Always look beyond marketing metrics to sales, growth, customer acquisition and profitability. Can you link your success back to marketing insights? If yes, what other data-informed changes can you make to further impact the business?

The chances are that your business is already at least somewhat ‘data-driven’ – all businesses apply customer and transaction data, for instance, to measuring their success in some capacity. The difference is that while we always knew the ‘who, what and where’ of our sales figures, we were not necessarily able to identify the ‘why’.

By incorporating a data-driven approach to audience-based marketing, you will gain fresh perspectives on your customers’ purchase-drivers that will enable you to focus your strategy around delivering precisely what your customers want, and translate that directly to the bottom line.

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