5 Top Trends for Data Driven Marketing

If you’re reading this then you’re already well aware that marketing has evolved from being a rather “pot luck” approach to very data driven. Our recent blog on Modern Marketing Strategy took a rather tongue in cheek look at how marketing has changed over the last few decades. To quote that blog – “It’s all about Data (and no – he’s not a character from Star Trek!)”

But how do marketers themselves benefit from this data? Yes, it’s used to populate databases and report on performance… but how about we get a bit smarter about it and also start using data effectively to inform the marketing channels we use and perhaps even change the way our marketing teams work?

This very issue was one of the hot topics at the recent Digital Cream roundtable event in Singapore in November. This event, hosted by Econsultancy, offers the opportunity for marketers to network and exchange experiences, explore the latest best practice and discuss strategies.

So what did their participants make of how we can use data to change how we work as well as what we do?

They highlighted five potential trends for 2017:

1. The increasing use of data for decision making needs to be resourced

More and more marketing decisions will be based on data in 2017. Analysis can increasingly trigger actionable recommendations which make a difference to organisations. Deploying resources to meet proven needs is a much more business efficient way of operating.

However, participants were also aware of the danger of data overload. Given that each marketing channel, customer touchpoint, and marketing system generates its own data, this can become overwhelming. On top of this, the abundance of data can mean that additional resources are then required to make sense of it all.

Smaller companies with limited marketing resources can struggle to find the time to analyse the data sufficiently to be useful.

All this means that when resourcing marketing teams, companies need to be aware of the increasing need to incorporate and analyse data, and either hit the right balance to meet those needs or perhaps consider maintaining a smaller core team and outsourcing some of the more specialist data analysis.

2. Increased use of data will lead to more agile marketing

Agile marketing can simply be defined as working collaboratively and flexibly – sometimes even spontaneously – to meet the immediate need. It means continually deploying resources to the opportunities identified by data and analytics so that time and effort is given to the most promising leads and market channels.

Agile marketing is proving to be highly effective because priorities are driven by data and resources committed to those priorities. This potentially means that projects that might normally take two to three months could be completed in two to three weeks.

That isn’t to say that agile marketing is not without its challenges. Those organisations with a conservative culture may find it difficult to accept more flexible and less conventional working methods. This means that marketers may initially have to put in more time and effort to explain data and test results clearly and convincingly.

3. Marketing attribution will always be difficult!

No matter how sophisticated your data and analytics, it is still almost impossible to attribute conversions accurately across marketing channels. Many organisations now have so many channels that customers can hit several touch points before converting – and it is then very hard to try and piece together their customer journey.

Nor are we yet at the stage where all data is able to be captured. Offline data is always difficult to obtain, but also new digital channels are continually emerging and do not necessarily integrate with current analytics systems.

There is also another problem in that marketing attribution can sometimes become a political football, with everyone wanting a share of the glory. This is especially the case when channel budgets are set according to the revenue they bring, so each channel manager is keen to claim the credit!

The combination of the three factors above means that whilst accurate marketing attribution is a key goal for many organisations, it is unlikely to be fully achieved during 2017.

4. Personalisation will increase using data-driven customer insights

The personalisation of marketing is increasing and is becoming more accurate due to increased data on consumer behaviour. Marketing can now be personalised, not just in terms of segmented content to a target audience, but to narrower groups of individual consumers to help them make buying decisions.

Personalised content can be delivered via email, web, or mobile or any combination of these.

There are still two issues with increased personalisation. Many organisations still struggle with ‘data silos’ where different departments do not let each other access data. Ironically this is often the case between sales and marketing! The other issue is that much marketing technology is still not quite up to the task of enabling individual personalisation.

5. Increased accountability of online advertising

Many marketers use agency partners for online advertising but now need to receive more data from agencies about their online advertising. Now that marketing teams are becoming more data-driven and have more sophisticated analytics, they naturally expect more information, in terms of both quality and quantity.

There will be barriers to break through, such as the complexity of advertising data and the issues of correct attribution. Also, there will be gaps in advertising data, just as there are in marketing data.

So, the increase in advertising data will not be without glitches but should hopefully share a bit of insight into which advertising platforms are reaping the most benefits to the business. Therefore, data is both a challenge and an opportunity for 2017! As the year gets well under way, make the effective use of data – and related allocation of resources – your top priority.

Author: Robert Walker