At AdWeek Europe, harnessing data for better targeting was one of the hot topics talked about each day of the event. However, talking about data is no longer enough; we need to go one step further and look into what data is relevant to our business and how that data can deliver top line results. 

Consumers are not just dual-screening, but often triple or even quadruple screening, as the recent Deloitte consumer digital predictions 2015 highlighted that consumers now own over five portable devices. For someone to be watching TV while writing emails, engaging with in-app activity on a smartphone or browsing on a tablet is no longer a surprising scenario. The implications of this are twofold: marketers have more opportunities than ever to engage with their audience, but consistent engagement – understanding a customer’s journey and accompanying them along the road to conversion – has become more difficult than ever. 

When no two customers follow the exact same path to purchase, understanding how to deliver a more tailored, personalised and effective campaign to a wide audience is more difficult than ever. 

So, how can brands harness various data sets to improve their digital marketing campaigns and engage their audiences?

1. Drive better awareness campaigns 

The days of casting the proverbial net as wide as possible in an effort to catch the attention of as many consumers as possible are long gone. In the digital age we are now in, brands have the opportunity to take a more intelligent approach to driving awareness campaigns amongst likely consumers of their product. By harnessing anonymised data from customers such as personal preferences, spending habits and average visits to a site before purchasing, brands can then use this information to conduct what is known as ‘look-a-like modelling’; when brands target their audience, based on characteristics shown by converting similar customers. 

2. Greet your audience at the right time 

Walk down the street or browse the internet for twenty minutes, and how many adverts do you really notice? When distracted consumers are flitting between channels and devices, generic ads are no longer serving their purpose of engaging customers and building relationships with brands. Competition for the attention of your consumer has become fiercer than ever, making driving engagement and, ultimately, conversions more challenging. Brands should consider how harnessing data such as precise location, time and context can give them the upper hand in understanding when their audience is in the right frame of mind to be targeted with an ad.

For example, we already know that daypart targeting, such as a coffee shop targeting a consumer in the morning at a train station with a coffee offer, would be much more effective than doing so at 5pm at night. Combine that data with even more complex information such as weather and your engagement rates should improve even more. Is it hot? That same coffee shop could offer them a half price smoothie. Cold? How about sending them a ‘winter warmer’ of the day? 

3. Get up close and personal 

Look at the success of some of the boutique retailers on marketplaces such as and you can see how popular personalisation has become. If consumers are giving each other personalised experiences, marketers need to ask themselves why they would accept generic experiences from brands? 

For example, if a returning customer has placed a dress into their order basket but not completed the purchase, anonymised data may show that other shoppers who bought that dress also purchased a handbag. As such, it may be worth marketers retargeting that returning customer with an offer on a bag to match the dress. Not only will this encourage your customer along their path to purchase, but it will also reassure the shopper that they are a valued customer. 

By harnessing data such as purchase history, location, and understanding where they are on the purchase journey, marketers can ensure that their ads are optimised to appeal to their audience’s interests and preferences. 

4. Find the likely suspects

The fact of the matter is: consumers often browse and don’t buy and we can’t necessarily stop this habit. In fact, many consumers will move along the sales funnel as far as putting items in a basket before changing their mind. This emphasises the need for marketers to look at the interactions within their webpages, using point-and-click data capture, to work out certain shopping habits and patterns that will help us understand when a consumer is likely to purchase. At this point, marketers can decide whether an incentive or push is needed to encourage a consumer back to the checkout, and plan the next advertising message incorporating contextual, predictive and behavioural targeting. 

5. Measure up

The modern shopper’s journey is more lengthy and disjointed than ever before, as customers jump between devices and online/offline. As such, while brands are securing those key conversions on the site, they should be looking at exactly what channels are driving specific consumer interactions and how they combine together. Multi-touch attribution methods will enable businesses to track consumer-brand engagements across each channel and each interaction with a brand.  This in turn will help brands to maximise engagements at each stage of the customer lifecycle by understanding when and where these engagements are most valuable to the brand and customer.

Marketers can harness data insights to improve their understanding of a customer’s journey to conversion – from initial brand encounters right through to the final conversion. When marketers combine this knowledge with the appropriate programmatic tactics and benchmarks to reach their desired audience at each stage, they will see their campaigns take off as they launch more effective, scalable and engaging digital marketing.