The Data-Content Continuum: A Marketing Virtuous Circle
To transform an organization to customer-centricity, to provide prospects and customers with relevant content, and to achieve sustainable marketing ROI all depends on data. We all get that. It may be hard to break down data silos and create a whole customer view — to prompt smarter marketing triggers — but increasingly brands and their agency and ad tech partners are finding better ways to do just that.
We’re data-driven marketers. We develop and depend on data strategies that incorporate data governance and data quality at every information spigot. We strive for analytics to predict behavior, to increase ad (and audience) buy efficiency, and to gain insight in response. We refine continuously. Increasingly, that response isn’t about measuring the impact of this marketing tactic or that ad campaign result, but rather marketing’s overall contribution to enterprise objectives.
Data, check. But what about content?
As channels proliferate, as paths to purchase become increasingly complex — heck consumer wander as they self-select their paths – a tough question remains: Is there enough branded (and non-branded) content available, across channels, to scale 1:1 at a mass level — and still be compelling, relevant and timely?
Well, in a word or two, that’s the very direction brands are going (or trying to).
A recent gathering of Marketing Idea eXchange (MIX, formerly Direct Marketing Idea eXchange) explored the relationship between data and content — led by Velocidi CEO David Dunne and Unified.Agency CEO George Wiedemann. I share some interesting observation that may inform any data-driven content strategy:
- Personalization matters — but personas matters more. After all, personalizing irrelevant content is counterproductive, said kindly. Since the funnel can have many points of entry, and many paths to conversion, all the better to have accessible content based on buyer and influencer personas (B-to-B and B-to-C).
- Big data, small data, which data is most important? The data that provides context. There could be hundreds (even thousands) of data elements across the marketing ecosystem that can be assigned to any one individual. Chances are only a precious few serve to identify context (a locale-based search, for example, a prolonged Web site visit with active engagement there, or transaction history). When trigger-based marketing is based on context, it serves to help define the right types of content to serve the customer’s wants and needs in that moment.For example, luxury spa and personal care products manufacturer used a mix of traditional marketing research (in-store surveys) and market testing to transform its digital presence as a “pampered” customer experience. Innovation resulted: Online beauty consultants on demand, chat features, appointment booking by Web, digital promotions to introduce new services — all working to extend the brand’s exclusivity without sacrificing accessibility to its customers.
- Can creatives learn to love data — best that they do! “I never met a creative person who did not want their work to resonate [with an intended audience],” Dunne remarked. “Data provides the insight that can unlock their creative capabilities.”
- How do we create content at scale? As media budgets are optimized, less waste, theoretically at least, frees resources for both persona- and context-driven media buying, and persona- and context-driven content development. Content does not always need to be paid, earned or owned — it can be curated from second- and third-party sources.
- “Content” also comes in many forms — some of which may or may not be in a marketing budget at all: The call center conversation, the online chat transcript, media placements, analyst reports, social content, customer reviews, direct mail — is all of this being organized smartly around context and personas?
And perhaps the largest observation of all: Marketing is less and less campaign-based — it is more and more continuous. The relationship between data and content is a continuum — always improving each other. Marketing budgets need to reflect dialogue, not spray and pray. We used to jump on the bandwagon. It’s now time to jump in the circle.