Data Driven: The Power of Data in Marketing

Data. It can be overwhelming and confusing. It can also be one of the most powerful tools in a marketing professional’s arsenal.

When we think about how data ties into marketing, there are a few fundamental questions to consider. What is the purpose of utilizing data in marketing? What are best practices around sharing this information with clients? What’s on the horizon for data that will impact marketing?

Let’s start at the beginning.

How can data elevate marketing tactics for both corporate brands and agencies?

For corporate brands

At its core, data allows us to make informed decisions based on facts. Whereas companies used to rely on the past to help them predict the future, they are now relying on a finer-tuned decision-making process. In the words of Bliss Senior Vice President and Head of Innovation Sally Slater, “Data forces a shift from making decisions based on gut instinct and historical precedent to what actually works and should underpin every decision we make.”

One of the first steps to creating a successful marketing campaign is learning about your target audience. Who are the people you want to reach? What drives their behavior? With the power of data, marketing professionals can answer these questions and maximize their spending to optimize reach. Measurement allows for both marketing professionals and their clients to see what does (and doesn’t) resonate with their target audiences.

Developing data-based buyer personas—archetypal representations of your ideal customer based on primary and secondary sources—can help a company understand exactly what their target audience needs to move closer to a purchase. Current and prospective customer interviews, executive surveys, media interviews, social listening, and other market research provide the data points needed to identify relevant pain points or opportunities for engagement. The resulting buyer persona allows a marketer to develop content that customers want to read, use the channels where buyers are most active, sell more effectively, maximize ROI, and create a more relatable brand.

For PR and marketing agencies

Just as data can increase product or service sales, it can help PR agencies provide the best services for their clients. For example, data allows us to track reporter engagement to improve media relations and relationship-building. Platforms like Cision and MuckRack regularly publish comprehensive reports on media trends based on journalist surveys. As Sally notes, “If you’re pitching a reporter today the same way you were ten years ago, that’s a problem.” Having strong reporter relationships allows firms to drive more media engagement and deliver optimal results, thanks to metrics that tell us what reporters are most likely to respond to.

When it comes to sharing data-based findings with clients, it’s likely that knowledge of and experience with data will vary. Some clients may have a lot of trust in the data, while others will have questions about the process and the results. The challenge for marketing professionals is to help clients understand the power of their data and how it supports their goals. Visual cues are a great way to get started – but they’re not enough on their own. Ringer Sciences’ Director of Data Science, Christine Walsh, recommends asking yourself, “What story is the data telling that the client needs to hear?” Let visual cues help tell the story while letting the ‘so what’ stand out.

So, what’s on the horizon for data-driven communications?

The answer is cookie-less marketing.

For years, consumers and business buyers have struggled with the push and pull between personalization and privacy. They want information that’s personalized but also want to protect their privacy.

By the end of 2023, Google is planning to stop supporting third-party cookies on its search engine, forcing companies to think of new and innovative methods for collecting data. This will bring about a shift in tactics, with less reliance on paid marketing as it becomes less precise, and more of a focus on content-based advertising. Content-based advertising focuses on creating and distributing content via methods like social media, newsletters, and blog posts.

With all this in mind, take a moment to reflect on how data plays a role in your work and your company at large. Are you utilizing data to maximize results? Are there white spaces that data can fill? Plugging those gaps with rigorous data collection and a carefully designed analytics program can elevate your clients as well as your agency to new heights.

By Rachel Rost