To many marketers, 2007 is known as “the year that changed marketing technology forever.” Since that year, the amount of martech has been increasing exponentially with new platforms for event management, social media analytics, sales automation, and ecommerce services. Each technology introduction brings with it more data that can be used to target consumers through various marketing tactics and channels. And it looks like the new year will bring more.

Related Content: 2019 Marketing Trends Across Digital Channels

In 2019, brands will have more data at their disposal than ever before. But what does that mean for marketers and what challenges do they face in the coming year with regard to new data at their fingertips? The DEG Strategic Planning team weighs in on what the new year will bring as far as marketing data and the responsibility marketers have to use it wisely.

Creating data-informed content

“I think we as marketers get very excited about how data can lead to creating unique customer experiences,” says Strategic Planning Director Jenni Schaub. “But many are unaware of the massive amount of content that needs to be generated based on that data to really deliver a high level of personalization across your website and other owned channels.”

It’s definitely a marathon more than a sprint in terms of content creation and ongoing message targeting. To begin, you must use the data you have to inform your content strategy and develop a governance structure, including your content focus, publishing cadence, and how information is managed with in your content management system (CMS).

New content creation is an investment, but having a clear direction will help to minimize the often-chaotic execution of the project.

New content creation is an investment, but having a clear direction will help to minimize the often-chaotic execution of the project.

Effective strategic planning

Aligning your approach to data with the journey of your customers is important. Ask yourself, at what points in the journey are your customers currently being let down? How can you provide the right types of content to meet their needs?

Once you align how you’re going to use the data you’ve gathered with the customer journey, you can dive into how the data provides insights into how effective your current tactics are with customers.

“A good way to solve the challenge of an abundance of data would be for brands to start small,” says Senior Relationship Marketing Strategist Jenn Horner. “Through effective strategic planning, brands can identify one area of the business that they need to impact in 2019.”

Leveraging new data insights can improve that identified business area so you can take what you learn from the process and use it to impact your next focus area.

How to begin

“I’ve heard that a huge number of companies are interested in collecting additional data, but a majority don’t have a plan for how they will actually use it,” adds Ecommerce Strategist Andy Warren.

People want more data, but they don’t have a plan or the resources in place to actually implement the dynamic content associated with the additional data. If you’re truly looking to personalize the customer experience with your content marketing, you need to first look at what you can do now before considering gathering additional data.

“Start by taking inventory of the data you can currently access,” explains Senior Relationship Marketing Strategist Travis McCan. “Don’t underutilize what you already have.”

“Start by taking inventory of the data you can currently access,” explains Senior Relationship Marketing Strategist Travis McCan. “Don’t underutilize what you already have.”

You’ll find that there’s much to learn from the data already in your possession. Then, once you’ve learned from this data and implemented changes to your customer journey or content creation and messaging, you can begin thinking of new data you’d like to have to help push insights further for your marketing.

“Make your content work harder for you,” says Schaub. “Go beyond thinking of content as one spot or one post and consider how it comes to life across all channels. Then, you can use data to inform the type of content that best fits each channel.”

Not a substitute for empathy

Armed with the right data, any marketing professional would expect to have access to even better customer insights than before—but there is more at play here. Our assumptions are often generalizations, and those generalizations aren’t always accurate.

The difference between our assumptions and the real feelings and actions of our customers that drive their decisions is what we call the “empathy gap.” Although it seems counterintuitive, the explosion of data we collect today has widened this gap even further than before.

“Data, and an abundance of it, is not a substitute for empathy,” says Director of Strategic Planning and Channel Strategy John Stauffer.

Products Over Problems: A New Approach to the Customer Journey

Remember, our assumptions don’t always take into consideration our customers’ realities. Instead of relying on your assumptions, you need to close the empathy gap and really use your data to learn about the real people behind it—not fictional personas.

The new year brings with it more data, technology, and opportunities for you to reach your customers in the right moment with the right channel. Discover how DEG is using data to help our clients connect with more customers by marketing to the moment.

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