Data and analytics have become so intertwined with marketing strategy it’s no longer acceptable to say you’re a marketer “but not a numbers person.”
Marketing used to be strictly an art, not a science. As 19th century marketing pioneer John Wanamaker once said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
Today marketing retains the art and its intuitive aspects while embracing advanced data science. This marriage of art and science is solid. It delivers an effective and lasting approach that is both high touch and high tech.
High Touch Marketing
Data and analytics have so consumed the discussion of marketing that they threaten to drown out the softer side of marketing. In reality, they enhance it.
While data and quantified measures are key, they don’t replace vision. Use of data needs to be driven by your company’s business model and strategy, your customer’s needs, your competitive position and industry benchmarks. Only with this understanding can you apply and measure the right metrics or determine what analytics you need to provide insight and prediction.
Marketers need to shift their mindset to recognize how intuition can be informed by data and analytics. When a marketer comes to her manager with a proposal to spend $250,000 on a campaign, she’d better come armed with data, analysis, testing plans and expected outcomes as well as what her gut is telling her.
High Tech Marketing
At the same time, we need to continue to evolve our understanding and use of analytics. Marketers today rely on a variety of metrics, such as response rates and click-throughs, to measure campaigns. These metrics tell us where we have been, where we are now, and how we performed compared to previous years. They give us historical perspective and current status.
But today’s customers have greater expectations about what marketers should know and how well informed their interactions should be. Simply reacting to metrics isn’t enough. A sustainable marketing analytics strategy demands advanced analytics to answer questions such as:
- Where is the opportunity?
- Where should I invest next or differently?
- What needs to change?
- What’s the full story my data is telling me?
- How do I stay ahead of customer’s expectations?
Modern analytical marketers need to use data to become proactive, predictive and agile enough to make changes quickly and easily. We must employ better tools that allow us to talk to customers and prospects based on their location in the decision journey. And it’s imperative that we better personalize when and how customers find us and how we respond.
Advanced analytical capability and approaches enable marketers to make fact-based decisions about design, audience segmentation, channel optimization, inbound marketing and nurturing efforts. Unlike in the past, marketers can now deliver valuable information about trends and the digital dialog of customers and prospects.
For example, if a sales lead comes from a live event, we can uncover more information about that prospect’s behavior, such as:
- After the conference, what web pages did he view?
- How long was each visit to the website?
- What assets did he download?
- What other activities did he participate in—webcasts, conferences, sales calls?
With this data, you can start to assemble a picture of how every part of the marketing spectrum affects a sale. The value of information expands exponentially when you start to evaluate the aggregate behaviors of hundreds, thousands or millions of contacts. You can build a better picture of customers’ behavior and start to assemble marketing programs that anticipate their demands.
Another benefit of this shift: the more we rely on the facts that analytics helps uncover, the less biased we become about the kinds of campaigns we run and whom we target with them. If we look to data for clues about what might work well and what won’t, we prevent our gut from taking us to places we could have avoided.
Blending Art with Science
As marketers continue to adopt ever more advanced predictive analytics capabilities, it’s increasingly important to look at marketing as a marriage of art and science. The concept must remain strong, bound by a pre-nup that ensures both sides are fully committed to the best possible outcome.
Data will never be the answer 100 percent of the time. Rather it’s a tool to help us make better decisions than if we’d simply relied on our guts.
Analytics enhances the art of a campaign by empowering marketers with fact-based insights, ultimately improving the customer experience, while delivering more effective campaigns and a more robust bottom line.
Like any good marriage, marketing art and science begins with engagement. And ends in bliss.
As Senior Vice President of Global Marketing & Shared Services, SAS, Adele Sweetwood guides marketing strategy and go-to-market programs. Her responsibilities span field and digital marketing, demand generation, retention and event marketing, as well as advertising, content, search and social media.