For as long as it has existed, marketing has revolved around the science of understanding the why, what, and when of what makes people tick.
Today, data is everywhere — and there’s more being generated every day. It’s gotten to the point where most businesses aren’t able to keep up with the sheer volume of data being generated by their business and their customers.
This situation, coupled with the advent of technologies like AI and machine learning, has created a new kind of urgency. Customers are more knowledgeable and have shorter attention spans than ever before. In a marketplace flooded with new and better products, brands that don’t have a data and analytics driven marketing strategy will fall by the wayside.
What the market looks like today
Mobile devices are now the favorite mode of content consumption. According to the latest Digital Future in Focus report from comScore, in most leading global markets consumers are spending twice as much time on mobile devices compared to desktops. In countries like India, Mexico, and Indonesia, this number is even more skewed: time spent on mobile devices is 4 times that of desktop usage.
Digital content is the norm, and brands are putting out more videos, podcasts, infographics, articles, and webinars than ever before to respond to the increasing amount of time being spent on mobile devices. According to latest Edison Research studies, as many as 56 million Americans listen to podcasts every month. Podcasts like TGIM (Thank God It’s Monday) and Rework by Basecamp are great examples of brands capitalizing on a new communication medium to keep their audience engaged.
The customer journey has evolved
An overwhelming majority of a customer’s experiences with a brand now happen in the digital realm first. A user might now come across your brand on one of several digital platforms, peruse your website, download your app, and then go through a series of interactions with your content and offers before eventually becoming a paying customer.
If they’re not adequately engaged by your marketing messages throughout this process, they may drop out of your funnel, never to be heard from again. Marketers must use data at each step of this journey to understand where their users are coming from, what kind of content they are interacting with, and where they are dropping out of the funnel.
How AI and ML are changing the game
With the widespread usage of AI and machine learning, it has now become possible to examine billions of user events to find complex correlations that would have been impossible to figure out manually. Brands now have more insight into what drives their consumers to take action than ever before.
Where can marketers use data and analytics?
Retargeting – Consumers are constantly hopping from one device/platform to another. When a customer makes a purchase on a website, marketers can use their purchase decisions to retarget them across the web by showing them strategic advertisements for similar products.
In further communications with this user, brands can send personalized messages that highlight their interests and notify them of other content or products they might be interested in. Individualized communication like this is great for user retention.
Advertising – Today’s social platforms generate a tremendous amount of first-party data about consumers that can be used to refine your offerings to a particular audience. Marketers now have the capability to split-test ads based on economic status, age range, geographic location, and user interests.
Email marketing – Most brands use email as a primary channel of reaching out to their audience. With click-through and open-rate data, marketers can now refine subject lines, body copy, and email formats, tinkering with communications until they get it just right.
What does data-driven marketing look like in the real world?
Recommendation engines – Platforms like Netflix and Amazon have complex recommendation engines that take into account all of the data points generated by a user within their app. According to research by Mckinsey, 35% of user purchases on Amazon and 75% of the content watched on Netflix come from recommendations suggested by their algorithms.
Automated content generation – Already, a large number of news articles are generated by machines. In 2016-17, The Washington Post used an AI solution called Heliograf to publish over 850 articles, around 500 of which were centered around the election. The Verge reported that Associated Press had produced thousands of automated articles on different company earnings reports.
AI solutions make it easy to understand trending topics and can collate relevant data to translate into readable articles. As the trend towards AI grows, the amount of machine-generated content on the internet will continue to rise.
- Advertisement and Engagement Optimization – According to latest Statista research, Facebook now has over 2.2 billion monthly active users. It also has a robust ad creation platform which allows you to target users by gender, education, job title, hobbies, preferred entertainment, device usage, and even purchasing behaviors.
Once active, Facebook generates a comprehensive stream of data about your promotion and how users are interacting with it, making it easier to adjust things on the fly and split-test different aspects of your advertisements. Marketers can also utilize a feature called “lookalike audiences” which allows the targeting of users that have similar social profiles to your existing customers and contacts.
On the mobile front, engagement and analytics platforms utilize advanced user segmentation and real-time user behavior data to create funnels that are designed to keep users engaged by allowing marketers to target them at exactly the right time with the right messages.
- Search engines – Google uses a proprietary AI system called RankBrain to parse user queries and return a set of relevant results. It is also able to use natural language queries like voice commands to query the search database and retrieve the correct information. This system is also used to generate related search queries and YouTube recommendations. Data-driven marketing is here to stay. Today’s consumers are smarter than ever and have more options. To keep up with the competition, marketers must turn to the data to help them make strategic decisions that will guide them towards optimal usage of limited marketing resources.
Authored by Ketan Pandit: Head – Demand Generation, CleverTap