Innovation does not grow on creativity alone. Practical seeds can be planted through trusted consumer data. In other words, you can marry the math and the authenticity to improve the overall customer experience. By studying your audience and noting key metrics, then monitoring them for growth, you can determine the best path for your marketing strategies.
The Times are Changing
20 years ago, marketing was more about intuition, but it has always been based on knowledge. It’s simply easier than ever before to get to know your customers.
Rather than going door to door and keeping a Rolodex with family names—even the pet dog, a salesperson can now log into their company’s CRM (customer relationship management) tool and the data is all there. Including recent interactions and even the behavioral patterns of that consumer.
It goes deeper than ever before. That means, with greater insight, comes greater responsibility. Rich data begs for more detailed campaigns that prove relevant to potential leads and create value for consumers. In fact, 53% of marketers surveyed stated “a demand to deliver more relevant communications/be more ‘customer-centric’” was one of the most important factors powering their data-driven marketing investments.
Don’t Be Brief with Your Brief
This may sound like a tongue twister, but really what this means is that creatives need direction. The more information, the better. One-liners like “make it pop” or “get inspired” serve zero purposes for someone developing content. They need to have a thorough understanding of expectations and be aware of things like tone, voice, product/service, branding, and audience.
The goal of a creative brief is to set the strategic foundation before moving to the conceptualizing and ideation stages. It should communicate your desired business outcomes as well as creative guidelines.
The more precise and longer the brief is, the better the campaign. Briefs should include at least:
- Campaign objective
- An audience profile
- Marketing challenges
- Word count
- Any insights from previous campaigns run
- Stats from top-performing ads
- Copy and design guidelines
- Search engine optimization expectations (i.e. keywords)
- Example/sample articles
The longer you spend on an outline for your creative opportunities, the closer the content will meet your needs.
Go the Distance
Key performance indicators (KPIs) form the baseline of your metrics, but they should by no means create a ceiling. Companies must think outside of the box and look at their audience as individuals, just as much as groups and segments. In fact, 54% of companies say their biggest challenge to data-driven marketing success is the lack of completeness and quality with their data.
The way people act and behave can show you a lot about how to sell to them. Sales teams no longer need to wait for a repeat customer to gain a deeper understanding of them. Technology efficiently combines sales and marketing strategies to develop what’s known as a “360-degree customer view.” This can include great details of data, like the amount of time a consumer takes to purchase or how often they visit your site. Certain programs can even read how long they hover over particular areas within a webpage.
Analyzing your campaigns through a single data point is like doing half the job, Yes, it is the main KPI that will open the door, but there is so much more information to gain when you step in. Base your creative decisions on the way the audience behaves (in addition to the data).
One example would be if your KPI was looking at the traffic to your site. Take it a step further and analyze the behavior of users once they get there. Where are they going first? What is catching their attention? How long are they staying on particular pages?
Yes, the main goal is to count how many consumers make it to your site, but the full picture is painted when you study what people are prompted to do once they get their foot in the door.
The Right Timing
When creative fails, it’s not always the advertising or campaign at fault. Sometimes, the atmosphere or environment simply poses the wrong timing. People have lives outside of the internet and there is a multitude of reasons why they might not be seeing your stuff.
If you have a campaign or content that is failing, study the context. What time did you post it? Where? Who were you speaking to? It is especially important to start looking at the bigger picture when you are seeing an increase in costs. Certain factors can affect your engagement, like:
This can influence your conversions if you are posting during high-demand days like Black Friday or Cyber Weekend. Consumers are simply off doing something else. Shopping to be exact. Additionally, people keep different hours during the summer than they do during the winter. Kids are out of school and want to be outside during the day, while parents are more active at night. Take all of this into consideration before dramatically altering a campaign.
Believe it or not, reaching success quickly can hinder your future sales. Especially if your product/service has an app. If it becomes the most downloaded in its category, then retrieving the program will be more difficult for people (some may give up). This means leads will be extra expensive to acquire.
Once you have run a few campaigns, it’s time to spend some cash. Unfortunately, the more you spend, the more it drives up expenses. Since you’ve already reached the easily reachable, leads will become costlier through social media advertising and marketing. The more people you reach, the more you tend to pay.
Other timing to consider is the day of the week and the time of day. The most opportune times to post can differ by channel. They can also differ by your message and any sort of shifts in search engine algorithms.
What that means is that things can get unpredictable so when in doubt, test it out. If your audience is dead at lunchtime, try posting early in the a.m. when they just wake up. If they work weekends, they may respond better mid-week. The more you study the data on your consumers, the easier it will be to market to them at the right time.
Of course, how will you know if any creative is working if you do not test it? The data collection doesn’t just fuel the creation of content, it drives the success of it. If you have a campaign that is failing and you’ve examined the context, it’s time to put your data to the test. This is where split testing (also referred to as A/B testing) comes in.
Split testing is a term in digital marketing that simply implies running the same campaign, with slightly different tweaks. It’s a trial and error process that uses data to further uncover patterns in customer behavior. And believe! They will tell you what they like and do not like. There is no shortage of opinions on social media. All you have to do is listen.
You can change anything on your messaging and run it. However, there are certain aspects and features that have proven success, such as:
- Different email subject lines
- Tactical advertising vs. branding
- Static vs. interactive content
- Text vs. video
- 30-second video vs. 15-second video
- Different copy or headline
- GIF vs. static
- Thought leadership vs. testimonials
It’s all about experimentation. You can even play around with tone. Have some content speak to your audience casually, while the other takes on a professional voice. Which do your people seem to prefer? If they chose casual, you know they have a more laid back personality and you can use that to strategize. Users that prefer a professional tone are probably looking for more educational materials, apps, and tools.
Data-driven marketing is ultimately about respect. You can never assume to know the customer, but they will expect you to. 88% of marketers surveyed use data obtained by third parties to enhance their understanding of each customer. With as much data as social media carries about an individual, it is the duty of the brand and business to further investigate.
Robust social monitoring with a good set of analytics will help you optimize your efforts and reach the widest audience possible. Data-driven creative opens the door to deeper insight that not only helps you to further engage and retain customers but spurs future product and brand development. Information truly is the key to deeper innovation in the hearts and minds of us all.