Companies are leveraging data to develop complete, multi-channel pictures of exactly what their customers think and want — and then fulfilling those needs.

By YPO member Jessica Hawthorne-Castro

There isn’t a corner of the advertising world that hasn’t been touched by data-driven marketing, or the use of data to make good decisions and improve engagement with both existing and future customers. And much like the proliferation of data is impacting the business world as a whole, effective data integration and assessment continue to play a key role in helping companies enhance their value across numerous channels.

The flow of data throughout the data-driven marketing economy is forcing traditional producer-centric firms to become increasingly customer-centric, according to the DMA Data-Driven Marketing Institute in “The Value of Data: Consequences for Insight, Innovation, and Efficiency in the U.S. Economy.”

In today’s organizations, customers are used to getting exactly what they want, and they expect companies to fulfill those needs. Through the use of both internal and external data, companies are learning how to “crown” their customer — truly understand what makes them tick — and then develop campaigns that engage those buyers in the most effective manner possible.

The rise of the data-driven marketer and consumer

More than 40 percent of brands plan to expand their data-driven marketing budgets in the near future, according to eMarketer. Data enables companies to make better decisions and map out a clearer customer journey. It also enables brands to personalize content more effectively and at scale.

Data-driven marketing has advanced significantly in the programmatic buying sector, but it also impacts campaign creative. In the past, creative was produced once, with one version for everyone — an ad was one, final, self-contained file that could run anywhere. That is no longer the case. Intrusive rich media ads are losing ground to more consumer-friendly formats that use personalization, rather than interruption, to get the message across. Creative, media and data are all converging as marketers strive to tailor messages based on who is seeing it and where.

The use of customer information for optimal and targeted media buying and creative messaging, data-driven marketing has been key to taking any guess work out of questions like who, when, where, or what message, and making those answers actionable. Consumers are becoming increasingly picky about the messages they read and the products they buy. In this landscape, marketers have to create personalized messages in order to attract and retain customers. This requires collecting and analyzing data.

No more hit-or-miss media testing

Data-driven marketing has effectively replaced the traditional “hit-or-miss” test component of the typical marketing campaigns. For example, at Hawthorne we typically ask new clients for one to two years’ worth of data in order to identify statistically relevant response curves for past campaigns and marketing efforts. We then use a statistical approach to web attribution analytics to measure the response curve of media airings and extrapolate the hidden signal from the visible signal through a proven methodology. With this information in hand, marketers can set baselines for current and future campaign effectiveness.

When assessing data over multi-year periods — and across different marketing channels — it’s not unusual for activity to be extremely “busy” at the outset. Put simply, there’s a lot of static and responses are all over the place. However, by using proven data-driven marketing techniques, you can start to pull out the relevant information, analyze it over time, pick up on traffic patterns, and drill down to specific marketing touch points (i.e., number of website hits that come in when a specific media airs).

For example, when a major online retailer needed a better way to harness its online data and figure out where its customers were coming from, the deal site ramped up its data-driven marketing efforts. To help, Hawthorne gathered all of the company’s data, entered it into our analytics system, and then used the resulting information to pinpoint where the online sales activity was coming from. Other companies have taken a similar approach by honing their approach to targeting particular demographics through data-driven marketing.

Reaping more from media investments

Executed correctly, data-driven marketing helps companies reap more from their investment in media and advertising. It lifts sales on already successful product lines, helps membership-based companies better target their audiences, and creates higher consumer demand for brands that may be languishing on the virtual or bricks-and-mortar store shelves.

Ultimately, the organizations that embrace data collection and partner with their marketing agencies will be the ones that thrive. By strategically narrowing down their audience to a select group of individuals who are most apt to respond to their advertising, companies can more effectively target prospects and consumers, enhance response rates, and improve their marketing ROI in unimaginable ways.

Connect with Jessica Hawthorne-Castro

YPO member Jessica Hawthorne-Castro is the CEO of Hawthorne, an award-winning, technology-based advertising agency specializing in analytics and accountable brand campaigns. Hawthorne Advertising has a legacy of ad industry leadership by being a visionary in combining the art of right-brain creativity with the science of left-brain data analytics and neuroscience. Hawthorne-Castro’s role principally involves fostering long-standing client relationships with the company’s expansive base of Fortune 500 brands to develop highly strategic and measurable advertising campaigns, designed to ignite immediate consumer response.  As a marketing thought leader, Hawthorne-Castro is an active contributor to industry publications offering insights on key industry trends. She has published bylines in numerous publications including “AdAge,” “AdWeek,” “The Wall Street Journal,” “Forbes” and is on the Forbes Agency Council.  In addition, Hawthorne-Castro has won many awards including Marketing Hall of Femme, 40 Under 40, EY Entrepreneur of the Year semifinalist, CEO Finance Awards and is a certified woman-owned business by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), a Great Place to Work® and on the Inc. 5000 list.