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TODD SMITH’S SPIN CYCLE: 5 ways to win with data-driven marketing

Todd Smith

Todd Smith

Data-driven marketing has come to the forefront for companies that want to better engage their customers and prospects. With data-driven marketing, firms are able to gather, integrate, and assess data from a variety of internal and external sources to help enhance value.

In “The Value of Data: Consequences for Insight, Innovation, and Efficiency in the U.S. Economy,” the Direct Marketing Association’s Data-Driven Marketing Institute points out that the flow of data throughout the data-driven marketing economy is forcing traditional producer-centric firms to become increasingly customer-centric. In the old days, in the words of Henry Ford, “Customers could have any color car they wanted, so long as it was black.”

Here are five ways companies are using data-driven marketing to enhance customer value and gain better positioning within their respective industries:

1. Determine what really makes customers tick. According to the DMA, data-driven marketing is about discerning what customers want and need and engineering the company to provide it: “The more firms can use data to develop a 360-degree, multi-channel view of what customers think and want, the more the customer will truly be king.” Through the use of both internal and external data, companies are learning how to “crown” their customers — truly understand what makes them tick, and then develop campaigns that engage them in the most effective manner possible.

2. Set baselines for campaign effectiveness. Data-driven marketing has effectively replaced the traditional “hit-or-miss” test component of the typical direct marketing campaign. For example, we normally 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 TV 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.

3. Block out the “noise” and focus on what’s relevant. When assessing data over multi-year periods — and across different marketing channels — it’s not unusual for things to be extremely “busy” at the outset. 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 direct-response show airs).

4. Determine exactly how customers are responding. 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, input 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.

5. Reach extremely targeted customer bases. A company like Dollar Shave Club, which has made a name for itself by sending razors to customers’ doors for a monthly fee, knows that it’s probably never going to be able to go head-to-head with Procter and Gamble. After all, the latter basically targets every man and woman around the world with its products. However, the smaller entity can use data-driven marketing strategies to fine-tune its own targeting and create demand for consumers that are looking for a more customized, membership-oriented experience.

When 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. By strategically narrowing down your audience to a select group of individuals who are most apt to respond to your advertising, you can more effectively target prospects and consumers, enhance response rates and improve your marketing ROI.

Facebook launches ‘Instant Articles,’ advances news trend

Facebook has just launched a new service called Instant Articles, which allows media organizations to create interactive pieces which are hosted on Facebook’s servers and embedded in your news feed.

The new service was apparently born out of a desire for speed. Facebook claims news articles take an average of eight seconds to load from its mobile app – said to be “by far the slowest single content type on Facebook,” in a news release. Zuckerberg & Co. decided the obvious solution was to host the content themselves, a step which they claim speeds up load times by 10 times.

That’s been enough to convince some big names to join in. The New York Times, BuzzFeed, The Atlantic, National Geographic, NBC News, The Guardian, BBC News, and Germany’s Bild and Der Spiegel, among other major outlets, are posting articles on Facebook via Instant Articles. Initially only iOS users will see them, but the service is said to land on Android soon.

What will they look like? As you zip through your feed many won’t look dramatically different, though some will have flashy video covers that play as you scroll. But within the articles themselves, Facebook promises “a suite of interactive features that allow publishers to bring their stories to life in new ways. Zoom in and explore high-resolution photos by tilting your phone. Watch auto-play videos come alive as you scroll through stories. Explore interactive maps, listen to audio captions, and even like and comment on individual parts of an article in-line.”

According to The Verge the experience is slick – thanks mainly to the fact that the story is pre-loaded as you scroll towards it, so that it’s ready to pounce when you tap to read. The service also strips out much of the advertising you see on many of the websites that are involved (presumably instead leaning on Facebook’s ad savvy elsewhere to generate the cold, hard cash). The result, in theory, is a slick media experience that doesn’t require heading to another, independent website.

Of course, the big question is how this changes the media landscape. When the content of some of the biggest news publishers on the planet is hosted on Zuckerberg’s servers, why need you ever leave the lovely blue walled garden that is Facebook? It remains to be seen how successful the experiment will be, of course – but if it does perform as well as Facebook hopes, publishers could well finds themselves even more reliant on a service they have little control over.

Golden Mic | B.B. King was pure blues gold! 

When it comes to the Blues, B.B, King was pure gold.

The 20th century’s most influential blues musician, who died late last week at 89, was born Riley B. King, the son of sharecroppers, near Itta Bena in the Mississippi Delta, in 1925. His parents separated when he was young; he moved to his claimed hometown of Indianola as a teen. It was there that musical seeds took root, in a gospel group and blues performances. His career took off from Memphis, and along with his legendary guitar, Lucille, he became the King of the Blues, winning 15 Grammy’s, including the Lifetime Achievement Award, and was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. His first-ever recordings were for Nashville label Bullet Records – and King kept his ties to Music City throughout his career. King was, and is the quintessential blues man that transcended music and impacted generations. He played 15,000 concerts and brought economic vitality to the impoverished Mississippi Delta. With his raspy voice and wicked guitar licks, he strummed his way to one of Mississippi’s most iconic brands. For that, he takes a blue-hued Golden Mic.

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.

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