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The How Brands Are Winning With Data-Driven Marketing panel discussion, the latest in BrainStation’s Digital Leadership Event Series, took place on June 24th, and professionals around the world tuned in to discuss the impact data has had on marketing.
You can watch the full panel discussion here:
The exponential growth of online consumption in recent months has made marketing all the more competitive and nuanced. Now the world’s best brands are relying on data to identify new market opportunities, develop and measure marketing initiatives, and optimize campaigns and content.
Today and in the future, leveraging data for your marketing will keep you ahead of the competition and help you to cater more directly to your customers.
Here are some of the ways brands are benefiting from a data-driven marketing approach.
Limiting the Guesswork
2020 has forced many organizations to accelerate digital transformation initiatives, particularly in marketing, where digital channels and eCommerce have taken center stage.
“We’ve transitioned from an era where marketing was an art and now it’s definitely a science,” said Deborah Tampubolon, the Director of Marketing, Customer Acquisition at Home Point Financial.
“As marketers, we’ve always had to be very good storytellers, and now it’s not a question of understanding just the story to tell the audience, it’s the story of understanding what the data is telling you,” she said.
Jeremy Silkowitz, the Director of Ecommerce at L’Oreal Luxe, agrees and believes that a more data-driven approach has taken the guesswork out of marketing ideation, helping brands better tailor marketing to their customers.
“What are their shopping behaviors? Where are they engaging? What is working and what is not working? Taking that approach and applying it, we can make sure we’re getting results,” he said, adding that data-driven marketing allows for ongoing optimization. “We’re constantly scrutinizing product pages and looking at analytics to see where conversion is low and how we can quickly make adjustments.”
Showing Measurable Results
Marketers who use data to track and measure performance can better direct campaign efforts, adjustments, and demonstrate which channels will result in the best return on investment. For example, the volume of email marketing sent across industries increased by 26 percent in the last three months, with open rates and conversions up by 31 and 22 percent from this time last year. Data like this can help marketers get ahead of the competition.
“First and foremost, [data] has made every marketing dollar more accountable,” said Rahul Chowdhury, the Head of Marketing, eBusiness at RB. “We ask ourselves every day, ‘is this moving the needle?’ When you start doing that, you quickly see that search and social media have been elevated,” he said, adding that the rise of data-driven marketing will only increase the amount of testing and experimentation.
“Data-driven marketing has moved us from an era of MadMen to being able to truly test and learn; to get insights by understanding consumers and customers better,” Chowdhury said.
Silkowitz agrees, explaining that L’Oreal has experimented with increased video content and paid social advertising over the last few months, but always keeping an eye on performance.
“Everything needs to ladder back to an expectation in return, in making sure that we’re going to get a return out of any decision to invest time and money. So we develop business cases to understand, as we make these optimizations, what will it trigger – increased engagement or conversion – and then we’re able to track that on an ongoing basis to show that those changes were impactful,” he said.
Testing to Define Long-Term KPIs
A Marketing Week study found that only 24 percent of B2B marketers run campaigns that last longer than six months, a trend that may have been exacerbated by COVID-19 and the need to cover short-term losses.
In The Long and the Short of It, authors Les Binet and Peter Field suggested that while short-term tactics are important for sales, growth and profit are driven by long-term tactics like brand building.
Adopting a data-driven approach can help in this regard, encouraging a longer lens and a culture of experimentation, both of which allow organizations to identify trends and gaps in performance over time.
“We’re testing and launching every single week because every week there’s something new to learn. It’s too easy to say I’m going to plan X weeks of a campaign and then I can go on my virtual vacation, but you can’t do that – there is no rest for the marketers,” said Tampubolon.
“Nothing happens overnight; it takes 30-60-90 days if you’re lucky to see real changes,” she said, adding that a long-term approach often requires a mindset shift.
“It’s an advantage to have a view on what you expect your sales to look like, what budgets you think you’ll have,” Silkowitz added. But, he also warned that long-term planning needs to be flexible and adjust on a rolling basis.
“Plans can change quite significantly vs. what we thought our business was going to look like, but the ability to react quickly, adapt, and shift resources is critical as you experience changes.”
In the end, continuous learning is a job necessity for marketers.
“The digital space is so quickly changing that you never get a grasp of it,” Chowdhury said, adding that as we rely more on data, it can mean rethinking strategies from the ground up.
How can professionals stay ahead in a data-driven world?
“Skills can always be acquired and BrainStation is a great example of that,” Tampubolon said. “But we also need a mindset shift. We used to have big picture thinkers and small, on-the-ground thinkers, but now people have to be flexible and think big and small. We’re in a global economy now.”