Data is a wonderful thing, however, there is a risk that brands (and marketers) can become too dependent on the numbers without remembering the end goal. Numbers are ultimately just numbers unless you remember the person behind the like, follower or conversion. 

Data-driven marketing has given marketers new ways to understand how their audiences are behaving and what marketing efforts are really paying off, but it’s critical to remember to put the customer first. 

The technology now exists to make it easy to accurately segment audiences and understand customer journeys at an individual level. However creativity really is the magic that has, does and will continue to bring marketing to life. Beyond the big-ticket creative thinking, there are a number of ways that creativity is shaping data-driven marketing in 2019 and beyond. 

Creativity to put the customer first

It can be so easy to operate from a technology first place, where activity is driven by new technologies, or simply replicating other brand’s campaigns, but actually, the creative and brave approach is to always put the customer first. Thinking in this way allows marketing to evolve to real customer needs rather than imagined ones. Data and creativity go hand in hand here, as it is data that informs brands understanding of customer needs, and this that can feed into creative strategies, which in turn become data-driven campaigns. 

Data is giving marketers insights they have never had before, while technology continues to offer an ever-changing range of channels to reach the consumer. Marketers must now creatively navigate the evolving landscape to reach and engage consumers before channels become irrelevant and users move on. With more channels and content to navigate than ever before, using data and thinking creatively about how to reach each individual user is critical to any marketing strategy. 

Creativity in using data

At first glance, we might assume data and creativity are two polar opposites, however, we are now seeing a number of ways marketers are using their data in new, innovate and creative ways. Data has become a live, rich source of information. We are seeing marketers mine it in ways never before accessible to them – whether that’s tracking individual journeys or segmenting audiences cleverly to identify sub-groups and trends. 

Data is becoming a marketing tool unto itself – just look at Spotify’s Wrapped campaign – cleverly using personalised data to reach millions of individuals across a range of marketing channels including advertising, PR and direct to consumer. This trend shows no sign of losing steam, with other brands frequently using their own data to highlight trends, position themselves as experts and reach their consumers. 

Creativity in campaign planning

Creativity is, and always will be the magic that brings marketing to life and we are now seeing that becoming ever more integrated with data. Data can be the source of inspiration for creative executions or backup strategies that might otherwise fail to win the board’s sign off. 

Let’s consider Gillette’s recent ‘The Best Men Can Be’ campaign. The powerful creative in the advert provoked strong reactions, both positive and negative, resulting in blanket coverage and conversations for the brand far beyond its ad spend. Even though it was called out by some men, the campaign appealing enormously to many women. Despite being a male-focused campaign, have no doubt that Gillette used its own data to know that women often make purchasing decisions for razors, before launching such a campaign. The compelling, contextual and timely creative campaign raised emotions, while data will have reassured the board that this is no bad thing. And of course, the campaign itself will have provided Gillette with a wealth of new data to use and drive future campaigns. 

Creativity shaping data and data shaping creativity 

In the modern marketing mix, data and creativity are becoming inexorably mixed. Creativity will always have a central role in marketing campaigns and continues to play a critical role in any data-driven strategy. Increasingly data is now shaping creativity thinking, allowing marketers to use real data to inform their campaign planning and execution. 

Data is needed for real strategic creative thinking and campaign planning, while creativity means data is becoming more useful than ever before. Data can provide a meaningful guide to customer issues, needs and wants, and provide marketers with the numbers they need to get sign off on exciting creative campaigns. 

Data and creativity do not need to be poles apart and in fact, it’s those marketers that can balance the two who will be most successful. Data will only increase in terms of both volume and importance, and it’s clear that creative thinking will always be an integral element of any marketing strategy. Modern marketers are increasingly expected to be experts in both creative thinking and data analysis. By finding effective and efficient ways of marrying the two together, the possibilities are endless for reaching and engaging your target audience on their terms.