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Sunday December 16 2018

How 3 Cutting Edge Companies are Tackling Analytical Marketing

Written by Michael Catford

December 1, 2017

Marketing has changed.

There are over three billion users of social media worldwide, that’s around 40 percent of the population. There is therefore little surprise that this is fast becoming one of the main mediums for online advertising with spending on social media advertising.

Then if we look at our own behaviour, as little as five years ago, people went to one or two websites when looking for a product, and made a decision based on that information. Today, the information available about products is almost endless and we’ve seriously upped our research time.

Primrose Gulliver, Social Media Manager at Receipt Bank, Nathaniel Cousin, Group Manager of Accounts at Bench and Peter Luu, Data Driven Marketer at MYOB know this all too well. As three professionals with skin in the marketing game, each has borne witness to the unstoppable growth of digital marketing over the course of their careers.

“This year,” notes Cousin, “spending on digital has overtaken investment in traditional channels.” It’s a statement backed by fact. And the reason for the upsurge can be put down to one major factor: data.

Digital marketing is defined by data. That’s its unique selling proposition. The amount of data that Facebook and Google have on internet users is incredible, if a little scary, but it has proven to be an absolute boon for marketers.

But has this technical shift resulted in a comparative cultural shift? And are marketers of today adapting to this quickly changing environment? In search of answers we conducted a Q & A with our experts to see how they saw the trend towards data from a marketer’s perspective.

What are some of the key metrics modern-day marketers analyse?

“We always try to steer clients away from ‘vanity metrics’ to ensure that our conversations revolve around end-goals,” notes Cousin. “No matter what I’m spending media money on and optimising towards, I always ask myself ‘am I over-achieving on that goal for the client?’ The campaign outcome that matters the most at Bench is ‘goal achievement’, which is any one of a number of conversion-focused metrics that drive a tangible result for a client. This includes completed views, engaged visitors and completed purchases.”

Specialising in social media marketing, the metrics that Gulliver focuses on are understandable. “Typically with an organic social media campaign we have expectations around engagement metrics on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. [We also track] blog traffic and the number leads that we capture through distributing gated content (eBooks, whitepapers, etc.). For paid social campaigns we focus on the click-through rate, how many leads we are engaging with, and the cost per acquisition of a customer.”

For his part, MYOB’s Luu takes a more agile approach. “There are the standard go-to metrics like conversions, revenue, visits and NPS, but these vary depending on the objective of the campaign. During planning we decide what success looks like and carefully shortlist the metrics that can best help us measure it, often mocking up a ‘winning’ dashboard in the process. As campaigns can target very different objectives (e.g. consideration, sales, brand, engagement and churn), it is important to stay open and agile when it comes to metrics.”

What are some common tools of the data-driven marketing trade?

Luu goes on to describe exactly how data is harvested, analysed and utilised within the walls of MYOB, but does so with an asterisk. “It’s less about the tools and more about the data itself, with the biggest challenge being having clean data in a logical, well-formed structure.” With that in mind, MYOB utilise the following tools:

  • For basic analysis and metrics: Adobe Analytics and Google Analytics give our marketers most of what they need, packaged up in easy to use interfaces. 
  • For more complex analysis: Combinations of tools like Data Grip and MSSQL Management Studio to query our raw data. 
  • To visualise and share data: Tools like QlikSense, Power BI and Google Data Studio.

“Couple great data with great tools and you have a killer combination.”

So what does Luu see as current points of interest in the data-driven marketing sphere? “Data Management Platforms (DMPs) are a hot topic. Connecting user journeys both across our own ecosystem and externally is a way we can deliver more relevant, meaningful experiences. Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) is also an interesting area and often yields some surprising results. A/B testing results have often stopped us developing features further, as they clearly made little to no difference to experience or conversion.”

How does data use effect teamwork?

Being a new, data-driven and marketing-centric platform, the team at Bench are more adept than most at navigating the troves of data and information available today. They make for a great model from which agencies can take inspiration, particularly more established businesses who are attempting to transition into the digital age. Cousin walks us through a few of their systems and procedures.

“Our strategies at Bench are always heavily data-driven. A fundamental part of this is the notion of ‘data literacy’ – ensuring that everyone knows what our marketing data and metrics mean. Marketers often label things differently, but our onboarding process for clients helps align their success metrics with ours.

“We also ensure that there is a single ‘source of truth’ – one shared pool of accurate data that everyone refers to. Otherwise, it would be very easy to get lost in all of the data.

“Another crucial element of being data-driven is ensuring that your management framework helps you make fast decisions based on the numbers. Data needs to be turned into information and acted upon, otherwise, it’s useless. A crucial supporting factor for all of this is having an agile mindset. There’s no excuse to wait a quarter to adjust, or even a week. Agile and data-driven marketing go hand in hand as far as I’m concerned.”

How do marketers use data to impact their business more broadly?

With a focus on accounting, Gulliver uses data to draw a bigger picture of how valuable social media marketing can be to her clients. “I use data to display how social media is contributing to our new customers overall,” she points out. By presenting the benefits of social media marketing in a more general way, an accounting department is more likely to understand the benefits that it can bring specifically to them.

Cousin sees marketing as leading the charge in data use. “Marketers now use more technology and software than almost any other department in a company. As a result, the data that marketers have access to can be used to improve the business as a whole. Becoming more data-driven allows us [marketers] to comfortably justify a seat at the boardroom table.”

How will the role of marketers evolve into the future?

How do our experts see the role of the marketer developing into the future?

“Being a specialist and not a generalist is becoming more important than ever. The [current] role of marketers is centred on customer persona and having a deep understanding of what the customer wants. That is why content marketing is becoming so popular, as marketers have to engage, educate and inspire prospects or existing customers to take action.” This trend, says Gulliver, will continue into the future.

Cousin follows up his earlier comment about how digital has overtaken traditional marketing – “For the first time in history digital marketing is no longer a bolt-on to a company’s overall strategy. Digital is the strategy that drives the business. What this means is that marketing will have no choice but to become more data-driven. The challenge is to build your culture around knowing in detail – and often in real-time – where your marketing dollars are going and how you can maximise their impact.”

So what does Luu see as current points of interest in the data-driven marketing sphere? “Data Management Platforms (DMPs) are a hot topic. Connecting user journeys both across our own ecosystem and externally is a way we can deliver more relevant, meaningful experiences. Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) is also an interesting area and often yields some surprising results. A/B testing results have often stopped us developing features further, as they clearly made little to no difference to experience or conversion.”

The final word is perhaps best left to Luu, who offers up some timely advice for data-driven marketers.

“Take the time to learn about how the data that drives your marketing is collected and connected. You may find out that it is not what it seems – which can change your approach – or you may be able to spot new opportunities that only a data-driven marketer would see.”

Written by Michael Catford

December 1, 2017

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