Many of our clients have become sophisticated in their use of digital marketing and plan to continue investing in this area. While we agree with that continued investment, we now advise clients who want a clear competitive advantage to shift their focus to data marketing.
Being a “digital” marketer (e.g., a marketer proficient in email, SEO, SEM, online display, content, nurturing, social, etc.) isn’t enough in the modern competitive landscape. Today’s leading marketers and marketing departments are evolving into “data marketers.” In other words, they are becoming proficient in the use of first-party buyer data and third-party data to build a better understanding of their target buyers.
The Factors Driving Evolution
Two factors drive this evolution to “data marketing.” The first is that digital marketing, while still a relatively new marketing practice, is nevertheless becoming less of a competitive advantage and differentiator. A surplus of skilled digital marketers has glutted the workforce, and nearly all successful businesses have already adopted digital marketing techniques.
The second factor is that the well-known “Big Data” phenomenon is radically changing the competitive landscape for marketers in the following ways...
- The massive increase in buyer information marketers can gather by participating in social networks.
- The radical shift in buyer behavior toward engaging with favorite brands via smartphones and tablet devices. Web analytics alone isn’t enough anymore. The key to understanding your buyer’s journey is to understand buyer mobile usage.
- Increasingly sophisticated, powerful and “on-demand” analytical power available to the marketer (which we’ll cover in a future article).
How Data Marketing Creates Competitive Advantage
Below are some examples of how data marketing is being used to create competitive advantage.
A major US-based global airline intends to create a 360-degree view of its customers. It now uses a "tag management systems" vendor to collect and unify buyer data from its main website, the rewards website, a "hotel offers" website, and its mobile application to get a complete view of customer buying patterns. Now, the airline can customize offers and digital experiences accordingly.
For example, customers who fly frequently to a particular destination are offered fares in conjunction with a hotel that is running a special. Or, depending on the time of booking and travel, the airline may modify its rewards program to offer customers a reduced rate on business class fares. The airline also seeks to collect data from customers at airport kiosks and (in accordance with international privacy regulations) from its in-flight Wi-Fi system.
Using Data Marketing to Optimize Website Conversion
Consider another example. A global consumer electronics leader seeks to optimize its website conversion rates. To do this, its marketing team “syndicates” third-party data. Syndication is the real-time sharing of data among its digital marketing vendor solutions. In this case, the company takes a real-time feed of data collected by its web analytics provider (traditionally only used for post-facto batch reporting and analysis) and provides data about the site visitor’s session to its website chat tool.
So, the website chat/IM window now receives a feed telling it what pages a buyer has visited in the current website session. Therefore, when the chat window pops up, it no longer says, “Hi, can I help you?” Instead, it now says, “Hi, I see you’ve been looking at our laptops. Can I help you with any specific questions about them?” This has resulted in a 70% increase in visitor engagement with the chat window. It has also dramatically increased visitor buy-through rates.
Using Data Marketing to Target Online Display Ads
Consider this third example of how Data Marketing lets companies seize competitive advantage. A major telecommunications company had millions of CRM records with offline information about prospects in its database---physical addresses and demographic data---but no online data, such as email addresses. The company was able to augment its traditional direct (physical) mail campaign for these prospects with targeted online display advertising, through a marketing technology vendor. The cost of conversion decreased significantly for consumers that received direct mail and saw targeted online display advertising.
Other Data Marketing Advantages
In today's competitive landscape, all marketers must be fluent in digital marketing; it is a baseline for success in an evolving consumer business and technology environment. But as a data marketer, you can achieve a higher ROI and better align with your business goals because you start with the premise that cross-channel buyer data is now available and can be leveraged to create...
- A better customer experience.
- A richer buying experience.
- More relevant communications to buyers, which will result in greater sales.
Becoming a data marketer will enable you to lead your company to the competitive advantage you seek.
Glenn Gow is founder of Silicon Valley-based Crimson Marketing. He is an expert in marketing strategy for tech companies, especially in digital marketing, demand generation and social (selling and marketing). Follow his insights on tech marketing at the Crimson Marketing Blog.