Ayzenberg VP of product and technology Chris Strawser shares challenges and solutions marketers face in adopting a data-driven marketing approach. 

Part one, which outlines challenges, is available here.

Determining how to effectively reach consumers in the age of coronavirus was hard enough when shelter-at-home orders first took effect. Then most parts of the country reopened. Yet the return to normal was short-lived as cases began to surge again, causing officials to reverse reopening and once again muddying marketers’ plans for the future.

Last time, I shared my thoughts on how a data-driven marketing strategy during COVID-19 and beyond can help position your business for growth and the challenges associated with leveraging data. I’ll now discuss the ways marketers can overcome those challenges and successfully use data to impact their brand perception and bottom line.

Use A System Of Record For A Cohesive Data Strategy

Having a cohesive data strategy is usually the first step to utilizing data correctly and more often. That involves having a system of record. Even if you have a grand data warehousing strategy, you still need to feed that data into systems that allow you to use it. A system of record could mean a customer relationship management (CRM) system, an email campaign system or a content management system (CMS). Or it can be something like a business intelligence tool such as Datorama that helps you visualize all of your data, which is a really key component in terms of allowing your organization to use the data it has at their disposal.

When you see the data through the different filters these systems of record offer, you can stack key performance indicators (KPIs) in certain ways that maybe you haven’t seen before. For example, is there a direct correlation between the volume of visitors on our website and our Twitter channel engagement rates? They could seem disconnected, but with a system like this, you can pull those seemingly disparate data points together and look at how they may correlate.

Another thing to keep in mind is just because you’re having to rewrite the playbook doesn’t mean your pre-COVID-19 data is meaningless. Understanding how consumers used to interact with you can be helpful in your analysis of the way they’re being forced to interact with you during lockdowns. And that’s where the human intelligence of data-driven marketing becomes so important. You can’t have data robots doing all your marketing for you. Data-driven marketing is only as effective as the human beings you’re running it through because at some point, the process must be influenced from a human’s standpoint. You’re using the data to inform the way you’re thinking about how you want to craft that connection. But ultimately, a human being has to look at the data and say, all of this allows me to know that I want to craft this kind of experience, because I know that as a human myself, this is what would be most beneficial.

Ensure Your Approach Is Mutually Beneficial To The Brand And Customer

The main point of using a data-driven approach is to get your data in a place that allows you to affect the consumer experience much more positively and then have that experience lead to some conversion which then repeats itself over time through some loyal behavior.

If you do it right, there should be a mutual benefit. The consumer should feel like they actually got something, an experience from you that she was satisfied with and that she felt like this was really a positive experience with this company. It’s about going above and beyond and making sure the consumer had a good experience, and that because of it, their perception of the brand has been elevated. At the other end of it, the brand is only going to survive if it continues to nurture that process.

In the age of coronavirus, the success of consumer experiences will be dependent on using more digital touch points as many continue working from home.The more companies shift to remote work, the more it’s going to change these local economies. Daily habits and behavior patterns are now being heavily influenced by the new normals of social distancing and quarantine and thus pushing most consumers online to meet their needs. 

This is changing the way that people are interacting with brands. Consumers are a click away from interacting with a myriad of brands and shedding past daily rituals that were supporting a lot of local businesses, such as restaurants and cafes near their workplace.

Given these factors, it’s important for brands to begin to incorporate data points that may be new or thus far underutilized, such as social share of voice (SOV). Even understanding the competitive and cross-vertical social share of voice outside of your brand will be important for understanding the climate you’re in and how that’s affecting your marketplace.

Think Efficiency Over Lifetime Value

Starting your data journey in a way that focuses on the things that are most effective for you in the short term is probably going to be a more effective tactic than getting into five to seven-year data strategy plans and programs. You can still plan ahead, it’s just very hard to know where the world is going to be in five years from now, whereas I think that wasn’t necessarily a concern before.

To think in terms of efficiency over lifetime value, ask yourself, ’What is making an impact right now?’ and ‘What is doing well for me at this very moment?’ Knowing what is doing well for you right now allows you to better understand how to pivot going forward.

The food and beverage industry is a good example. Most people I’ve talked to, at least in my area, are still going to the places that offer contactless delivery or that make pickup really easy, even if they have other options available to them. These businesses have been so accommodating over the last several months and in turn, they’ve built up trust with the consumer. As a result, the consumer doesn’t want to go anywhere else. That’s the affinity and the loyalty I’m referring to.

Many brands are thinking of COVID-19 as a fleeting period, that they just need to weather it and then everything will go back to normal. I don’t think that’s going to happen. The brand that did really well when times were really tough, that has built up the most equity and trust with consumers to-date, will come out the other end of this in great shape. Those who’ve failed or stumbled their way through this are probably going to suffer.

Being data-driven in marketing is less about cold calculations and decision making based on dry statistics and more about leveraging the specific data points that drive personalized and empathetic experiences. The focus on big data should really be more about an obsession with the best data and the most valuable data points are the ones that lead to growth in consumer frequency and recency metrics via experiences that are surprisingly delightful to the consumer. And in our current climate, those touchpoints are built from data points filtered through human intelligence and empathy, with person and machine playing equal parts.