Data Driven marketing, a phased approach

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The data is the new gold or oil. We heard this sentence innumerable times, but the reality is that the data is valuable only when is actionable. We should be able to get insights and activate it, doesn’t matter what purpose we are pursuing. As a result, this must be a company wide effort.

All of us working in building new business capabilities in the digital areas, used to face similar challenges and found similar reasons why this was not applied before. However, organisations needs to understand that this is proofed approach, there are innumerables success stories out there, and it provides a valuable advantage in the market.Of course this innovation required some investment, not only monetary but in human power and effort, however, if you want to be successful, you invest. In order to deep dive on this, let’s pick one of the areas where more results are shown, like marketing.

A data driven marketing approach means use all the available information in the organisation, in order to get insights, turn them into actions and interact with our customers in a whole new different way. This actions might be applicable to communications, making them more personalised or can be use to enhance and improve our products, or for business development purposes (market intelligence).

If we look at the majority of the organisations, the first step toward this, used to be the use of method called segmentation. This first step moves us away from the mass communication (blast email) using certain attributes of our customers to group them in certain way that help us to reach them in a more meaningful manner. Typically the criteria used to create these clusters is demographic information. A regional, by age, or sex approach is the first attempt, having certain common understanding of a big group. The next logical step is to factor in the generations (baby boom, genX, millennials,.). The generations are big clusters based on when the customer was born. This mark what is the expected profile, digital behaviour and interests within the group. We are including then, additional concepts like the behavioural ones. At this point the organisation has to be ready to think further than campaigns. The introduction of the customer journey, as a method to interact with the customer in a continuos mode (not one off), and where different interactions are needed across several touch points within different channels (that will be different per generation)

This is the point where several organisations are, and are thinking too, how to move forward. The first reflexion that will help to move ahead is that, although we (as individuals) are categorised in certain generation, we don’t match 100% with that definition, in fact we might disagree with the profiling. Each person is different, and if I’m a young person between 20 and 30, this does not mean I’m connected to the smartphone the whole day, with no interest in other things and not attending to offline channels (please extrapolate to yourself within the generation you are in). So, what should we do? How to continue evolving in the way we communicate and interact?

Sometime we use the sentence “put the customer at the center of the strategy”, but we do not mean it in practical terms. This is one of the examples where we should apply all what we learnt. Let’s think with our customer hat put on. What are the brands that connect with us in a better way? How they do it? Why is that? Putting ourselves in the customers’ shoes will help to explain what we need to do. And probably this will drive us to discussions around personalisation, realtime and omni-channel strategy.

Just before to think in all the tactical elements, we have to stop and think about the alignment. Alignment across the organisation, alignment between our vision, strategy and tactics. It’s not only to do something efficient but also impactful toward the corporate mission.

The main challenge that organisations use to face is the fragmentation of their data, and goals. Identify these data points, and collect them is not an easy task, but very needed to move in the direction we want. Identify what we what to do should come from our corporate knowledge, the data insights will help to understand how to get it done. Some example: do you know what is the CLV? What is the content mas relevant per customer? What is the preferred channel per customer? Are we targeting customers that reached us previously with complains? Do we follow up with customers that expressed their interest on us?

If you think that we are moving in circles, that might be true, in part. From this point, we should move in a cycle made up by: capture, activate and test.

Capture

This is one of the more complex part of the process. On the one hand, we should think what data do we need, in order to act later on (during the activation phase). What data we need for personalisation, for segmentation or for analysis purposes. On the other hand, we should use a progressive profiling approach, gathering only the data we need at this concrete point and showing to the customer the value of this exchange. Yes, this should be an exchange, they give us access to their data, and we provide something in return. It might be relevant content based on their preference, might be personalisation on their experience or you name it.We should factor in as well all the restrictions and data protections laws (CCPA, GDPR,.).

This is when the famous marketing funnel is important. Understand the goals of each step (awareness, consideration,..) and link it back to the info we’d like to capture. At the beginning of the journey, a simple id (email, phone,..) and complete name (plus the consent) might be enough, but as soon as we progress we can ask form more personal info (preferences,..) plus not forget to register the digital footprint and other interactions.

Activation

Some of the organisations are in a paralysation by analysis status at this point. They gathered and stored a big amount of data but are not sure how to use it. To have a clear activation strategy is key. The appropriate technology will help us to personalise communications at scale, to react in a real team providing that the customer needs, to publish tailored content based on preferences, to interact using the channel of preference.

During the activation, there are several considerations to weight in. First is the syndrome of the 2 screens. How many time have you been laid on the sofa, watching the TV or Netflix, while surfing internet on the tablet or smartphone. This is a critical moment for a lot of brands, as during evenings, it’s when most of us are more relax and our eye can be caught more easily or with less interruptions. The second element points out to the customer lifecycle. Understand where we are as customers, and target us with the relevant info, in a personalised way

Test

The agile mentality will help to gain value faster, but this impacts on: we should be ready to work in interactions, building, testing and improving based on our lessons learnt. The second component to think is around working with hypothesis. This initial idea, the hypothesis, should be tested, and improved in iterations as mentioned before. It is important to understand the concept of the hypothesis, as probably we don’t know what we need at the beginning of this journey, so start with an assumption, and improve it based on facts and data will move us in the correct directions.

As you can imagine, all this required new analytics skills (and technology). All this available info can help us to boost our marketing initiative, working in a more efficient and impactful way. The need not only for analytics tools and capabilities to understand the historic dataset, but also to fuel predictions (making use of machine learning models) can be beneficial. These models can help to predict what users are more propose to buy certain products or to react to certain message. But also we can work out the better timeframe to send out our communications or work with many other variables.

Being data-driven, specially in this marketing space, required to build new capabilities, and being enable by the sufficient technology. There are a lot of organisations doing great efforts and the payoffs are visible. Their initiative worth it (cost-efficiency) and more impactful, having as result a great engagement of the customers, with the correspondent associated revenue income.

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