According to a recent AdWeek article/infographic entitled “What Data-Driven Marketing Looks Like in 2015,” 77 percent of Marketers are confident in strategic data-driven marketing and 74 percent are expecting to increase their data marketing budgets and investments over the next year. While 66 percent of Marketers state personalized customer experience is a primary driver of their data-driven marketing initiatives, only 44 percent indicate that they are collecting customer usage and behavior data currently.

We sat down with Clutch’s Vice President of Marketing, Mark Harrington, who has served strategic marketing roles for both data intelligence providers and client brands like eBay and Citi, to discuss the growing trend of data-driven marketing.

Q: What exactly is driving the shift towards data-driven marketing?

MH: Today, brands are facing a fiercely complex, evolving competitive landscape. Aside from traditional competitors, companies are coping with a slew of “phantom competitive forces” in the form of online pricing engines, customer reviews, social posts and product comparisons. Consumers can access these tools and sources at any time which can completely detour their path-to-purchase your product.

This is largely why constructing “intelligent customer experiences” has never been more important for brands. There’s certainly a significant shift occurring in the number of brands embracing synthesized, cross-channel, customer intelligence. More and more Marketers are realizing that making the investment to truly understand their customers on a sophisticated, strategic levels is no longer a luxury, but rather a necessity to not only compete, but also to connect with individual consumers. They need this deliver customers what they want in order to motivate them beyond mere price to ultimately earn their trust and commitment. The challenge for many Marketers is actually delivering an “intelligent customer experience.”

Q: Terradata’s survey in AdWeek says only 44 percent of Marketers state they are collecting customer usage and behavior data, why is that so low?

portfolio6MH: Honestly, that’s probably misstated. Most digital channels, like online, mobile and social, by their very nature are data-centric. They’re producing massive amounts of consumer data in real-time. The issue is that while the data is likely getting collected and housed by the organization, in many cases it’s in a silo data system and probably unaccessible to the Marketing Team, so it’s understandable that they’re unaware of what’s being collecting because they can’t see it and may not even know it’s there.

Most brands are sitting on a wealth of consumer data generated from an array of channels, but given that the data is fragmented and often buried it has no practical or strategic utility for the Marketing, Brand, Loyalty or Customer Experience Teams. It needs to be synthesized and unlocked.

Q: You recently wrote in Wired Insights on ‘How Marketing is Leading the Charge to Extract Value From Big Data;” how are Marketers accomplishing this?

MH: It’s a balance between technology and strategy. You need technology that can centralize and synthesize your data from all of those fragmented sources in order to gain a holistic view of your customers. Then you need strategy to use the intelligence to effectively understand your customers in order to drive personalized marketing and intelligent customer experience. This solution, called Consumer Management, unlocks the value of the massive data sets organizations are already collecting and makes them accessible and useful to Marketers. This allows them to effectively engage and motivate consumers on a personal, relevant level.

What’s interesting is that we’re seeing the adoption of this approach across the spectrum of industries from automotive and athletics to food and fashion. Savvy brands across every industry are realizing if they want to expand and succeed they have to become data-driven, customer-centric organizations, and now they can without massive technology initiatives and teams of data scientists. The hope and promise of “big data” is now real and relevant…for Marketing at least.

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