When to Follow the Data

When to Follow the Data
Brian McHale
When to Follow the Data

As far as full-service marketing agency owners go, I know my path has not been a typical one. Most agency owners tend to come from the creative or account service disciplines. I came into this industry through the media side. Pouring over research, creating media plans, negotiating buys, arguing over audience statistics. Throughout my career, my comfort with numbers has stuck with me. Now my passion is finding customer insights within the numbers and using those insights to leverage a benefit for my clients. Yes, this can still include media but some of the biggest benefits are much further upstream with the client’s brand and messaging.

Data is Coming from Everywhere

So it’s easy to understand why I grow more excited each day at the rise of predictive marketing. Predictive marketing uses insights generated from customer data to make more informed marketing decisions. The main reason for the growth is that the number of sources for collecting customer data continues to grow rapidly. The move to a more “connected” world isn’t slowing down and all of those connected devices capture valuable data.

As data capture grows, so does the likelihood that the average marketer can become overwhelmed at the mere thought of trying to make sense of what they know about their customers. Because of the sheer volume, what often happens is paralysis. Or only a few types of data are considered when making marketing decisions.

Don’t Forget the Nuance

A common misuse of data is falling into the trap of only doing exactly what the data tells you. Even with all of this data, marketing still involves a blend of art and science. We are, after all, dealing with human emotions when we are communicating with our clients’ target customers. So we can’t forget to consider the nuances when deciphering data.

This brings me around to why I eventually moved from the world of media-only to a full-service environment. Predictive marketing requires incredible synergy between all marketing disciplines because, to do it correctly, you have to equally consider the channel and the messaging. And do so at the same time. Predictive marketing allows for real-time optimization, A/B testing, etc. to determine what piece of the marketing puzzle is truly driving the desired result. And it’s not just applicable to the digital side of marketing. All areas must be considered holistically.

Partners that Understand Data and Marketing

One of the best ways to make sense of all of this is for marketers to seek outside partners who have the ability to take a holistic view of their marketing data. It’s important that a partner has a strategic understanding of your marketing channels and platforms so that a true predictive marketing recommendation can be made. It’s also important that this partner understands how to take into consideration the nuances involved with marketing to people’s emotions.

Seek a partner that isn’t afraid of using your data to your benefit. One that also recognizes and understands the balance of art and science. Finding the right strategic partner will take you a long way in navigating the world of predictive marketing.