One of the most profound changes in the marketing landscape over the past few years has been the dramatic growth of data-driven marketing. While the specific practices vary from company to company, it’s almost certain that a large majority of companies are now using data-driven marketing in some form. The attraction of data-driven marketing is so strong that for many marketing thought leaders and practitioners, “data-driven marketing” has become almost synonymous with “effective marketing.”
Last fall, GlobalDMA and the Winterberry Group conducted a major research study that demonstrated marketers’ commitment to data-driven marketing. This research included a survey of more than 3,000 marketers, advertisers, service providers, technologists, and publishers from 17 global markets. Here are three of the study’s major findings:
About 80% of survey respondents said that data is important to their current marketing activities, and more than half (57.1%) described data as “critical” to their efforts.
More than 90% of respondents said that data is becoming more important to marketing efforts, and over three-quarters (76.7%) said that data is growing “substantially” more important.
A vast majority of survey respondents (77.4%) said they they are confident in the data-driven approach to marketing.
The GlobalDMA/Winterberry study also found that most marketers are using data primarily to improve the effectiveness of marketing communications. When survey participants were asked to describe the primary focus of their data-driven marketing activities, 68.5% chose “Targeting of offers, messages, and creative content.” When survey participants were asked what factors were responsible for driving their investment in data-driven marketing, the top choice (selected by 52.7% of respondents) was “Demand to deliver more relevant communications to customers/be more ‘customer-centric.’”
Therefore, it’s fair to say that, as currently practiced, data-driven marketing is primarily about data-driven marketing communications. And while improving the effectiveness of marketing communications is obviously worthwhile, data can and should be used to support other marketing functions that are equally important to business success.
Marketers now have access to more information about customers and prospects than ever before, and this voluminous data can help marketers develop a deeper understanding of customer needs and desires. Companies can leverage this understanding to develop products or services that are more inherently attractive to the company’s target market. More than forty years ago, Peter Drucker captured the role and importance of understanding customers when he wrote, “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product fits him and sells itself.”
Data-driven marketing should be about improving the effectiveness of marketing communications, but it should also be about providing part of the intelligence that company leaders need in order to bring the right products or services to the market in the first place.
Image courtesy of Dushan Hanuska via Flickr CC.