A ‘Moneyball’ Approach to Marketing and Big Data
Cost: The great normalizer
You can rank players by how often they get on base. Or you can rank players by how often they get on base divided by how much they cost. Like the A's, marketers are under pressure to do more with less, so divide outcomes by cost to ensure you're choosing the right tactics.
Don't just swing for home runs, get on base
The A's didn't optimize based on home runs or even runs scored. They prioritized on-base percentage, because they understood that the more often players get on base, the more often they score — and the more the team wins.
In marketing, the end goal is revenue. Sure, attributing revenue directly to marketing is murky. But you certainly won't get revenue if few are aware of your brand. You need to engage those who are aware of you. These are factors you can cost effectively optimize around.
Choose KPIs beforehand
The A's decided up front what their key performance indicator to assess players was. Consequently, every decision was straightforward. Likewise in marketing, whatever you do — email, event, TV, etc. — decide before you start how you'll judge performance.
The perfect is the enemy of the good
After you know what you're optimizing for, get going. Did Billy Beane waver because certain signings might not work out? Did he wait for a year-end performance report before taking any action to win more games? Not at all. General managers monitor performance and make personnel moves all the time.
Similarly, optimizing your marketing is an ongoing process via a hundred small optimizations. Monitor your marketing mix and shift budget from underperformers to overperformers.
It all boils down to taking an intentional approach to big data.
Jennifer Zeszut is the CEO of Beckon, a provider of SaaS marketing solutions.