Updated: Nov 30, 2020
Everyone knows the importance of effectively capturing and leveraging digital marketing data. For proof, look no further than this McKinsey study showing the significant overall growth achieved by those who do it well. The trouble is, most companies have little idea how to go about capitalising on the considerable data intelligence available to them. But by developing a more data-driven marketing mindset, any organisation can up its game.
Building a 360-degree view of the customer – or as near 360-degree as possible – is an essential first step. This is achieved by gathering, storing, and organising data in such a way that it can be meaningfully dissected. So it is important to capture as many of the millions of data signals – ranging from simple behaviours such as opening an email, clicking on a banner ad or applying for a loan to more passive signals such as turning 18 or letting your gym membership expire – that customers provide each and every day.
Realising a 360-degree view
Most companies have elements of a 360-degree customer view, but these often reside in silos so it can be hard to stitch together all of the signals. A customer data platform can help overcome this, but equally important is putting in place a strategy covering which specific data to collect and how (cookies, interactions and so on). Deciding this strategy is an important step yet, all too often, it is left out – which limits the potential for achieving a truly holistic view.
Brands also need to ensure all collected data is clean and consistent, which can be both a strategic and technical challenge. Creating a logical data taxonomy is one of the most painstaking but important tasks that a brand can undertake on their data journey. Standardising naming means data is consistently categorised across multiple sources and channels, allowing you to undertake the second step of any data journey: meaningful analysis.
What makes analysis meaningful
Meaningful data analysis means mining data in search of actional signals. Yet marketers and their agencies often fall into the trap of undertaking quasi analysis on a host of vanity metrics that provide no relevant insight on how a digital experience or media programme can be improved. Often this takes the form of isolated channel analysis – focusing on open rate on the email campaign, for example – without any degree of audience level analysis or action orientation.
As even the most rudimentary segmentation can lead to actionable insights, over-simplistic analysis distracts from the true power of data. True strategic analysis should allow marketers to gain a deeper understanding of their customers and the unique relationship they have with a brand: who they are, what they have in common with other customers, what content they are most likely to engage with, and so on. The right technology can enable advanced data models which allow for clustering of customers into narrow segments based on a continuous loop of signals, with each interaction leading to a progressively fuller customer picture. Marketers can then dissect their audience into increased granularity – uncovering a host of insights and actionable triggers.
Personalising the experience
Armed with a deep understanding of their audiences and a host of actionable insights and triggers against them the next step for a marketer is to decide what to act upon and, as important, what not to action. And at this point, an integrated technology stack combined with rule-based automation becomes the most powerful tool in a modern marketer’s arsenal.
The good news is that there are now an array of technology solutions that can enable marketers to distribute personalised experiences – from a simple email service provider to marketing automation platform, standalone content management system or fully-fledged experience platform. The potential scenarios that can be delivered by such technologies are practically endless – restricted only by volume of actionable data and content available.
Ongoing testing and learning
The third step for any marketer wanting to make the most of their data is build capacity to test, learn and evolve these decisioning strategies and content. Data-leaders are those that have an embedded test culture and look at results to understand what was learned rather than whether the data proves they just made the right decision. The best-placed marketers understand that a successful data journey comes from a collection of incremental improvements in strategy and execution, not just a single home run.
Data enables brands to understand who a customer is, how and where they are interacting with a brand. More importantly, it makes it possible to craft and influence those interactions. In essence, data is the single most important ingredient that allows a brand to improve the entire customer experience through personalised content and tailored journeys. Fail to act on the data at your disposal and a marketer risks losing relevance and, worse, being little more than a ‘colouring in department’.
Joshua is the Managing Director of Bray Leino Splash part of The MISSION Group