Why is data more important than ever to marketers?

by HSG on Sep 15, 2017 in Articles for Software Fans

Data has always been important to business. While it wasn't long ago that businesses kept minimal information on people who bought their products, nowadays companies keep vast amounts of data. In the late 20th century, marketers began to take demographics seriously. It was hard to keep track of so much information without the help of computers.

Only large companies in the '60s and '70s could afford the research necessary to deliver real marketing insight. The marketers of yesteryear relied upon focus groups and expensive experiments to gauge consumer behavior in a controlled environment. Today even the smallest of companies can have access to a rich array of real-world data about their consumers' behavior and their consumers. The amount of data that is stored today dwarfs the data of only a few years ago by several orders of magnitude.

So what kind of information are businesses storing for marketing purposes? Some examples include:

- Demographic information — age, gender, ethnicity, education, occupation and various other individual characteristics.

- Purchasing history — what their customers have bought in the past.

- Contact information — practically all companies store their customers' email addresses and phone numbers.

Companies can now look at a customer's demographic and at what products other customers from their demographic have purchased. If they see a significant correlation, they may market the item to that patron. This is an example of personalized marketing.

What are some of the things companies do with the data they store?

- Targeted ads — companies can use this information to target ads to customers leads based on their demographics or purchasing history.

- Special offers and coupons — companies can look at client demographics and/or purchasing history to give them a discount on a certain item.

- Trend analysis — marketing teams can see trends as they happen and direct their efforts to take advantage of rapidly appearing trends.

Imagine the department store of yesteryear. Every customer had pretty much the same experience. Now look at the retail outlet of today. Companies are expected to know what a person bought online or in the store and tailor their marketing and their customer experience based on that information. A patron can receive a personalized price, just for that product and just for that person, based on their demographic or personal purchase history — or based on metrics or trends linked to their demographic. Companies that can't or won't do this quickly find themselves irrelevant in the marketplace.

Everyone has a computer in their pocket or strapped to their hip, able to purchase any item from virtually anywhere in the world in several different ways. With the advent of computers and smartphones, there is always a screen in front of us. Consumers are marketed to on an almost constant basis. This means that the amount of advertising directed at the average person is greater than it has ever been before. That's why advertising must be more relevant and laser-focused than it has ever been.

People shop in many different ways, at different times and for various reasons. There are many different platforms upon which the consumer interacts with the business. Clients want to shop at all hours of the day and night. Catering to these different needs and wants of the consumer meets them where they are. When this is done, it delivers an experience that is as relevant as possible.

Companies must keep themselves relatable by making the customer experience suited to everyone. The way to do this is through personalized marketing. And the only way to see the myriad of correlations and patterns in demographics and purchase history that make this level of targeted marketing possible, is through the processing and interpretation of vast amounts of data.

How has large data changed the marketing role?

Although collecting data from mobile device, social media channels and search history data has brought unique opportunities for businesses, it has also created a stumbling block for marketers.  Without the right tools, marketing professionals run the risk of being inundated – perhaps even paralyzed – by data. CMOs are now expected to drive long-term growth beyond marketing campaigns. They are being held accountable for business results tied to technological analysis such as AI and machine learning. Marketers along with CIO’s are responsible for effectively choosing the right tools to make sense of it all. It can be quite daunting.

Artificial intelligence is on the horizon, and with it comes the bold promise that it claims of optimizing nearly every aspect of our lives. New platforms and apps are being developed right now. As AI and machine learning gain more and more traction in detecting patterns and delivering insights for business, and new means of interaction between consumer and sellers present themselves everyday — the need to effectively analyze data will only increase.

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