Digital transformation has changed the way marketing happens. Unlike before, when marketers used a ‘spray and pray’ approach to marketing, today’s marketers are data-driven. They plan marketing strategies based on hard numbers, perform ad-hoc analysis on data, and monitor the results of their campaign in detail.
Marketing agencies have responded to this trend, and have found ways to partner with in-house marketing teams around topics related to data. In this post, we look at the importance of data when marketing in a digitally connected world.
According to Financial Times, ‘Data-driven marketing refers to the marketing insights and decisions that arise from the analysis of data about or from consumers.’ This data can come from a variety of sources, both internally from within a client organization, or externally from social media. Data can be overwhelming to marketers because of how steady, diverse, and unstructured it is.
This is reminiscent of Gartner’s definition of the 3 V’s of big data - volume, velocity, and variety. Big data is a reality to today’s marketers, and marketing agencies.
Big data is talked about commonly in IT circles. However, its impact is not restricted to just IT. The ripple effects of big data are felt across all types of companies, including marketing agencies. These organizations typically handle thousands or millions of dollars in marketing spend, managing large scale campaigns and projects for their clients.
Innovation is the name of the game, and marketing agencies thrive on thinking outside the box and being on top of trends in technology. Marketing agencies have taken on a different shape with the rise of social media, and mobile devices. Unlike traditional agencies that planned mass media campaigns across TV, radio, and print, today’s agencies plan laser-targeted campaigns that aren’t one-size-fits-all.
With the mass of data being churned out from social media platforms and existing data in their enterprise clients’ applications, marketing agencies are looking for ways to leverage all this data. They are employing data scientists, investing in business intelligence platforms, and adopting advanced data analysis techniques to mine hidden insights from all the data at their disposal. Big data has changed marketing for good.
Noticing this trend, Gartner predicted that ‘By 2017 the CMO will Spend More on IT Than the CIO’. This spend is mostly aimed at upgrading the marketing technology available to marketers and marketing agencies. Wall Street Journal reports that ‘Venture Capitalists Are Betting on Marketing Tech Over Ad Tech’.
In 2016, VCs invested $500M in ad tech startups, and close to $1B in marketing tech startups. Marketing tech involves tools like BI platforms, CRM and lead management systems, project management tools, and social media management tools. These tools are equipping modern marketing agencies with the tools they need to handle data-driven marketing projects for their clients.
Because of the diverse platforms, and touchpoints that factor into the buying process, the typical marketing lifecycle, from awareness to conversion, is very extended. Especially for B2B tech products, it can go beyond 90 days, involve many key decision makers, multiple meetings, and detailed negotiations.
To lead prospects successfully to conversion, marketers need visibility across the entire user journey from first contact to final purchase. This is only possible with access to relevant data across every stage of the buying process. The goal is to reduce the time taken for prospects to convert, to convert leads more frequently, have higher value deals, and importantly, bring consistency to the entire process. Data-driven marketing is central to this process of optimizing the buying process.
Relevance is a feature of modern marketing. It involves reaching the right people with the right message at the right time. With today’s cluttered media landscape, the way you communicate to a person on one platform would be vastly different from another channel. A person seeing a search ad on Google may be interested in reading a white paper, but a person browsing through their Facebook feed may just want to view an interesting chart that’s visually appealing.
To plan, execute, and measure such targeted marketing activities, marketing agencies need to deeply understand their ideal user profile, and craft the right campaign for each user type. This sort of customized marketing is only possible when marketers are data-driven.
Data-driven marketing is a strategic advantage when done right. It is able to take stock of where a company is at the moment, and envision where it should be in the years ahead. With data-driven marketing, marketing agencies can chart out a course to get their clients to the next level. This would include maximizing existing channels of profit, and mining for new ones.
Gone are the days when marketing agencies got paid for how far they could spread a marketing message. Today, marketing agencies need to justify their services by the real ROI they deliver for their clients. This is why marketing agencies are looking to diversify the income streams of their clients.
To make suggestions that are profitable it requires the agency to thoroughly understand their client, the industry they’re in, their product suite, and mode of delivery. Importantly, they need to quantify this with numbers. Marketing agencies that master the art of using data to their client’s benefit will reap sure rewards.
Measuring performance of marketing campaigns is critical to marketing agencies and marketing teams. If a campaign performs badly, monitoring the data will yield useful insights to know what to do different next time. On the other hand, when campaigns perform well, marketing agencies and marketers alike want to receive their due recognition and credit for the results.
Marketing automation began the first wave of personalized customer experiences. It enabled marketers to target different buyer personas with different tactics. This was very effective in converting more prospects, but it was just the start. Big data enables marketers to reach new heights in personalization. For example, recommendation engines in ecommerce sites like Amazon have perfected the art of personalizing the user experience.
Pricing is an often under-utilized tactic for most marketers. However, when it’s based on data, pricing changes can significantly boost a company’s bottom line. The key is to vary pricing based on market conditions, supply-demand economics, and competition. All these parameters need data to back them up and to arrive at the right price point. A ready marketing data bank can make a big difference to how effectively marketers can employ pricing strategies for their product suite.
There are a number of innovative startups like Infer, Lattice Engine, and Mintigo that do predictive lead scoring. They use algorithms to crunch large data sets and predict the likelihood of a lead converting. This sort of predictive lead scoring is only possible with the availability of big data streams, algorithms that can process these large streams of data, and data scientists who can manage the entire process.
While it helps to have a data scientist on your team, even if you don’t have one, a data analysis platform that is made for big data processing could give you these benefits. Imagine if you could predict accurately which type of lead would convert. You could have laser-focus on reaching just these type of leads, not waste marketing dollars on leads that won’t convert anyway, and you’ll end up with a much happier sales team.
There are many advantages to data-driven marketing. We hope this article makes you want to drive your marketing strategy with data. While you may have the right intentions, to see your vision come to reality, you need a data analysis platform that’s made for today’s marketers and marketing agencies.
As a marketing agency, you need the clarity that data brings. Investing in a mature business intelligence (BI) tool that can make all the difference between happy and unhappy clients. Your clients are influenced by the big data revolution, and are aware of the importance of data to their strategy. As you work with them, you should give equal importance to data-driven marketing.
Of course, there are other types of business intelligence tools that marketing agencies can use internally, as opposed to prospect type data that is sales focused. Allocable is a business intelligence tool for marketing agencies that provides professional services automation built for your unique business workflows and data needs that allows you to organize and analyze all this business health data in real-time so you can take action right away.