In today’s omni-channel world, data is every brand’s most valuable currency. Data not only equips businesses with a raft of information on who their customers are, it’s also the fuel that drives their ability to create highly effective marketing campaigns, which can be personalised to customers’ needs at an individual level.

Before the advent of social media, the data available to brands was largely restricted to just a small group of channels. Today there are literally hundreds of platforms through which consumers and brands can interact. As a result the amount of data available to brands is vast. The trouble is too much focus often seems to be placed on collecting more. Instead, brands need to question not only the strength of their existing data assets, but also the extent to which this information is generating value.

Are there things we could do differently to extract better insights? Are there channels we should be operating in to generate more, or fill in missing knowledge? Are we regularly screening the data we have and establishing whether or not it is fit for purpose? Asking questions such as these is critical to ensuring that data assets remain valuable, accurate and supportive to any campaign activity. 

Not all data is the right data 

Performance marketing, by its very nature, is all about delivering tangible outcomes, and so campaigns are only as good as the data behind them. Just because a brand has access to vast amounts of data, doesn’t mean it’s the right data, or that it is being used in the most effective way. If a brand doesn’t know who its customers are or possess the ability to identify what they want (ideally before people ask for it), those customers are unlikely to stick around. Marketers need to make sure that their customer database is fully up-to-date and always evolving. Customer preferences and needs don’t remain constant. Whilst their base details will largely remain unchanged, how and what they engage with will naturally change on a monthly, weekly, possibly even daily basis, depending on the service or products they are browsing. 

Having a database that is constantly being reviewed and assessed is therefore an essential part to the success of any marketing activity. If your customer database does not contain useful insights or is at odds with the creative and/or messages being sent to those housed within it, the results of that campaign will not be a true reflection of the effort and considerations that have fed into its conception and execution. 

Regularly evaluating the relevancy and application of data might sound like an arduous task, but if a data asset is not adding any value, it’s likely to be having more of a negative impact on the business than the potential positives.  

Performance metrics

With marketers increasingly facing pressure from board level to prove measurable and tangible results, effort needs to be placed on targeting the right people, in the most effective way possible. As with any successful lead generation campaign, it’s about quality not quantity. You may have 10,000 customer records in your database, but unless they have been qualified, the chance of all of them converting into 10,000 new prosperous relationships is slim to none. Even when they have been qualified, there is no guarantee of success, even if you run them through a three month nurture program. The point of all this comes back to performance metrics. Every interaction with a customer costs money. If you don’t have an accurate data set, you not only risk sending a particular message to the wrong customer, you also might find you are sending information to individuals that are no longer applicable or to contact details that are no longer valid. That is a colossal waste of time, money and resource.

Campaigns need to be designed to cater for an audience, which is both channel and device agnostic. Data may be key to understanding and identifying specific behaviours, but it’s the reasons behind why these decisions have been made that are the most valuable and useful to performance marketing success. Brands that invest in a vigorous data management program not only benefit from greater efficiencies, they are also able to demonstrate to consumers that their changing needs and requirements have been listened to, which in turn leads to more meaningful experiences and more effective campaigns being created. 

Want to hear more from Mark? He’ll be taking on the subject of email marketing at PMI London 2015, in his session ‘The Digital Marketer’s Stalwart: Email Marketing in 2016‘.