Getting smart with data in digital marketing

21st September 2018 - 10 minutes read  Data & Analytics
James Wolman - Data Scientist

In a world where the user is at the centre of everything, performance is directly correlated to how well brands are able to empathise with their audience. This is why it’s important to employ data science – not just as a post-campaign reporting and analysis tool, but also to inform the overall strategy.

Complementing marketing with the latest data science techniques and machine learning algorithms isn’t just vital to online success, it can also hugely amplify offline activity too. And the good news is that we’re all now able to access a wealth of data that has the capability of empowering strategy, campaign implementation and optimisation.

From who your customers are, to how you should reach them and what products they want, the data you already have is not only a potential goldmine, it’s a compass. When you use data correctly, you shouldn’t feel controlled by it, you should feel empowered by it.

Here’s why you should always look to the data if you’re in need of a better sense of direction.

Data Can Help You Reach The Right Audience

With the growth of online, the great part about social media and digital marketing is that it makes your customers accessible — the slightly bad news is that it makes every customer accessible. And your brand can’t be all things to all people. Rather than throwing your valuable resources against the wall and seeing what sticks —ultimately wasting time and money — your data can actually tell you so much more. Who is responding to you? What products are getting the most interaction? Perhaps you’ll find that your customers love the fact that you’re ethical — maybe they respond well to your personalisation. By looking at the data, you can see where your company actually sits and who it resonates with — you can see how it can thrive.

Data Can Help You Demystify Your Customer Base

Demographics used to be drawn in broad strokes — you knew that you appealed to women aged 20-30 or the over 50s. But now, data can take your knowledge to the most granular level. You can see how you’re resonating with men in their 20s who work in technology and ride a bike, or women in their 40s who live in the north and have more than two children.

Whilst this approach is useful it can be difficult to get very practical with the data, especially if you have a smaller data set. A potentially more useful way to analyse your customer base is to look at the Customer Lifecycle.

At Found, we segment a client’s customer base into different lifecycle phases by mapping their CRM data against its recency and frequency – the segments are then enriched with multi-channel funnel data from Google Analytics and put into a ‘Lifecycle Grid’.

By monitoring ‘bulges’ across lifecycle phases over time, our data science team are able to inform the search and biddable media channels about the quality of customers that they are producing, enabling them to adjust their bids for the most valuable customer acquisition tactics.

And by knowing which stage of the lifecycle customers belong to, we are also able to identify those who were in the same phase. This enables us, for example, to create a campaign that specifically targets a client’s repeat customers that have been recently disengaged, by tailoring messaging and offers to try and win back their custom. As for recent first-time buyers, the same level of targeting can take place by using the intelligent set-up of audience lists in AdWords.

But once you have this information, it’s not just about numbers — it’s about getting in their minds. Data tells you what makes your customers tick, where they are in their purchase journeys, and what they really care about. It reveals details that will allow you speak to them as people, far beyond generic numbers. And that’s where real resonance happens — and lifelong customers are made, and retained.

In short, a critical takeaway from our approach is that ad copy and creative has to be continually adjusted and defined according to where every customer is in the grid. A regular customer that keeps coming back needs to be marketed to differently from one that has purchased just once and never returned.

Machine Learning Is More Accessible Than Ever

If having all these insights at your fingertips sounds great, but is equally daunting, it may be a good time to turn to machine learning. While machine learning was once associated with tech giants and the financial industry, it’s become the bread and butter of digital marketing.

Every campaign’s performance is an opportunity for analysis and given the sheer volume of data that a campaign can accumulate, traditional methods just won’t cut it anymore. It’s important to leverage machine learning techniques when trying to uncover hidden patterns that are latent within the data to give ourselves the best possible start for the next iteration.

Machine learning allows you to unearth insights from your data sets that aren’t always apparent, so don’t be afraid to seek it out. Talking to your data team or getting a marketing expert on board that can show you where the patterns lie can help drive you forward.

Training Your Teams In Data Can Reap Big Rewards

For many marketers, the perception is that creative thinking is where all the best campaigns come from. But the truth is that data can help inform every step of the way, and this applies to the creatives all the way through to the strategists. Whether it’s content creation or social media campaigns, training your teams in the basics of data can pay off bigtime in the long run. And yet, 55% of marketers don’t feel they have the data they need to make their campaigns personalized and targeted enough.

By making (a certain amount of) data available to everyone in your team, and teaching them how to explore and manipulate it, you can expect to see a difference in the work they produce. For example, marketing emails can use phrases and placements that you know worked well in the past, content can be tailored to what your audiences are searching for, and all marketing activity can be consistently relevant — using data means the possibilities are endless.

You Can Make Big Decisions Fast

Change is upon us, rapidly, and in every industry — so your company needs to keep up with the times. One of the biggest benefits of data is that it allows you to receive and process a wealth of information in an instant. With a snap of your fingers, you can see that ads run better on Instagram instead of Facebook, that you do better at targeting men instead of women, or that 3pm is the most effective time to advertise to your customers — so that’s where you can choose to put your resources.

Data takes out the guesswork, it takes out the trial-and-error and lets you stay ahead of the curve. Those huge, imposing decisions don’t have to keep you up at night — you can make them quickly, knowing that the numbers have all the answers.

In a nutshell, you should be using data to drive your marketing decisions. Whenever you have a question, whether it’s about big-picture issues or targeted issues like your latest social marketing campaign, the answers are always available. And the best part? You already have them!

If you would like to discuss how to make better use of your data for your next marketing campaign, drop us a line here at Found.