Data analytics has changed marketing in fundamental ways. It has changed the expectations of and requirements for marketing leaders and, perhaps most importantly, made the customer the driver of much of the innovation in the market.
First, it has given marketers remarkably detailed insights into the experience customers have with their brands.
Second, it arms marketers with evidence they can provide back to the business that marketing drives revenue growth.
And third, it has made the process of marketing more efficient.
Customers’ expectations have gone through the roof in recent years, as products and services of all kinds and from all industries have been digitised and mobilised. For brands, that has created a new kind of competition.
No longer is it enough for marketers to settle on doing a better job than a historical rival. Instead, customers now take their best experience in any market and apply it to every market. They expect seamless and personalised experiences when they connect with brands and just assume that the information brands need to satisfy them is immediately available.
And each digital action a customer takes provides a data point for marketers to act upon — whether they are tracking the effectiveness of a customer journey, how a consumer is responding to a particular campaign, or how, where and when a customer is most likely to interact.
Data also allows marketers to change how they tell their stories on the fly.
Take the example of MiRunners, an online service designed democratise racing horse ownership.
According to Alan Smith from Digiviser, “Simply put, we continually tracked how content was being viewed by prospects — the public, basically — and then recast content across different mediums and channels.”
Smith said, “We could see what content was being viewed the most, and the longest, and what didn’t resonate (until you test, you never actually know).”
Over time (which was measured in days and weeks, not weeks and months), MiRunners was able to change the content, speeding the path to purchase and an increase in the rates of purchase of the units on offer in the thoroughbred market.
“That, in turn, influenced paid advertising budgets — so miRunners continually maximised the ROI,” he says.
"The data influenced the content creation, which in turn influenced spend, which in turn influenced sales."
- Alan Smith Digivizer
Data also helps marketers justify their investments. Marketers are much more likely to be judged on the bottom-line impact of their efforts these days. Sophisticated marketing clouds and advanced advertising technology allows marketers to attribute customer behaviour directly to the impact of marketing.
Initially, attributing models were unsophisticated — often attributing success to the first or last click. However, more complex multivariant attribution models now account for the many different channels with which brands are typically required to engage these days.
Data analytics — and particularly predictive analytics — also makes it easier for companies to determine where their marketing investments will be most effective.
With machine learning — and eventually artificial intelligence — likely to add further to the marketing technology arms race, data is likely to become even more important.
Finally, while it is often the forgotten part of marketing, internal processes are also benefiting significantly from more intelligent use of data and of marketing systems. Whether this involves workflow management, version control, compliance or digital asset management, marketers are much better equipped today to build a highly effective and efficient software infrastructure to maximise the benefit they receive from their investment in data and technology.
To read more about data-driven business, check out The future of marketing: Data-driven decision making edition of our almanac.