Lessons from the Experts on Data-Driven Marketing at Scale

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Data can be overwhelming for marketers—there are so many KPIs to consider, touchpoints to measure, and you’ve probably collected more data than you know what to do with. Realizing the data challenges that clients are facing (and the urgency to let go of old habits as new restrictions loom on the horizon), we partnered with Brand Innovators to host an afternoon-long event focused on data-driven marketing at scale.

The discussion featured leadership from both regional and world-leading brands, who each discussed their unique relationships with data. From building a more holistic understanding of the customer journey to enabling more impactful personalization and experiences and more, each speaker across four segments revealed their success stories in activating data. You can watch the full event here, or find key insights from speakers below.

Data-Driven Marketing Should Enhance the Customer Experience

It’s easy to feel lost with acclimating to recent (or upcoming) changes in privacy and data collection. As marketers navigate a privacy landscape transformed by new features in iOS 14, the cookie apocalypse and more, a good rule of thumb is to focus your data-driven marketing strategy on enhancing the customer experience.

“The goal is to take as much data as you can that makes your experience better and helps you truly understand the customer,” says Erin Levzow, Vice President of Marketing Technology at Del Taco Restaurants. She opened her fireside chat by drawing a distinction between what kinds of experiences make personalization more meaningful in the minds of consumers versus strategies like relentless retargeting that simply creep people out. “When it’s done well, that’s great—but when a brand knows I just bought an end table and offers me another end table, it doesn’t feel very personalized.”

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    Screenshot of an interview between Erin Levzow and Jaime Frey.

    Erin Levzow spoke with Jaime Frey, Vice President of Account Services at Metric Theory, which joined Media.Monks in 2021.

    By zeroing in on value for the customer instead, brands set themselves up to capture the first-party data that is so crucial to building relationships with consumers today. “One thing we've benefitted from around the strength of our loyalty program is that so many of our customers are willing to uniquely identify themselves across channels to take advantage of our benefits,” says Holly Waisanen-Hatipoglu, Vice President of Loyalty Performance Management at Marriott International. “That's made it easier for us to at a minimum have some kind of customer ID that goes across multiple platforms.”

    A customer-centric focus can also help unpack which metrics hold value to your brand and how to interpret them. Levzow detailed how for a quick-service restaurant like Del Taco, a lot of time spent on the website isn’t the good signal it may mean for other businesses. “Customers are looking for information fast—what on my website do I want them to spend time doing?” she says. “They’re looking for things like nearby locations, so if they’re spending a lot of time on the website, then I should be concerned. We absolutely look at numbers differently.”

    Take a Holistic Approach to Measuring Across the Customer Journey

    A recurring topic of conversation throughout the day was the role that data plays in reaching audiences where they’re at, then using those insights to accurately pinpoint where you should invest your spend. Chris Marino, Global Head of Performance Marketing & Media at Bloomberg Media, drew on his experience of driving consumer subscriptions—a process that entails reaching audiences offsite, whether through social, search, OTT media and more.

    “I’m very passionate about making the right levels of investment in upper and mid-funnel marketing initiatives, knowing that that’s where the opportunity and scale really exists to drive consideration—then ultimately using that scale, content and insights to bring someone down the funnel and drive a really efficient conversion,” says Marino. Subscriptions to Bloomberg Media grew by 34% in the first half of the year, reaching more than 325,000.

    Advocating for building a more holistic understanding of the customer journey, Marino cautioned against taking a last-touchpoint approach to measurement. When it comes to assessing media spend, for example, your Google Analytics reporting may give a lot of credit to the role your website plays in driving conversions. But basing decisions on that information alone loses sight of the influences that consumers have engaged with on the path to get there.

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      Screenshot of the Brand Innovators event, featuring an interview between Brittany Blanchard and Chris Marino.

      Chris Marino shared his insights in conversation with Brittany Blanchard, Vice President of Account Services at Metric Theory.

      “If it takes them five or more touchpoints to become a paid subscriber, if we were to only think about things on a last-touch basis, we might limit investments that bring customers through the funnel,” Marino says. So, how do you get out of that last-touch mindset? “Stop thinking about channel attribution and what we as an individual have contributed and start thinking about how we as marketers all come together to create the most optimal customer experience,” he says.

      Align Data and Content Creation for Marketing at Scale

      Of course, data plays an important role in identifying and understanding new user behaviors. Canva, a platform that makes it easy to design graphics, presentations, documents and more, saw a large uptick in adoption from educators last year as learning migrated online. Noticing this trend, the Canva team designed templates to help teachers quickly and easily design their own worksheets.

      While it’s clear data can signal the need for new product features, that same user data generated in the platform can also inform marketing content to further fuel growth. "Marketing is on the front lines of testing and learning about customers,” says Sunil Subhedar, Global Head of Growth at Canva.

      He spoke on the importance of having an AI-based recommendation engine built into digital products, noting that the very same technology can power marketing performance. When users begin a new project on Canva, for example, they’re met with popular templates to get started. Canva depicts these same popular templates in marketing materials, which show prospective users what others are building through the platform’s ease of use.

      While this approach is effective, many brands will rely on a skilled partner to execute at scale. “To scale the amount of content would require an army of people,” says Subhedar. “So there is an opportunity to partner with an agency to build this complementary service and fuel global creative using a template brand toolkit and a way of disseminating that across different languages and markets.” It’s a challenge that we enjoy, weaving data insights and production together to power marketing at speed and scale for audiences all over the world.

      There’s lots of ways you can use data to power marketing and performance. Whether it’s better understanding segments of your audiences and their needs, gaining a 360-degree view of the customer decision journey or integrating artificial intelligence into the creative process, data-driven marketing at scale doesn’t have to be the scary prospect that it may seem. In fact, heeding the advice shared during the Brand Innovators event is an excellent way of preparing yourself ahead of time for new policies and shifting consumer attitudes toward privacy—and that’s an insight you can count on.

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