Data analytics and management are an ever-evolving piece of the marketing puzzle. The numbers serve as a consistent guide for how brands can leverage and/or re-calibrate focus to generate more targeted, personalized customer engagement.

As data collection and review tools continue to advance in function and purpose, brands have access to metadata they can use to build a more powerful, nuanced, single view of the customer. It’s as if the breadcrumbs you’ve been collecting all along finally come into a power position as a whole picture.

But, there’s a caveat.

This level of deep dive data is available to everyone who wants to pay for it. It also ups the marketing stakes in terms of competition.

One key way brands can truly differentiate at this stage in the evolution of marketing is by using creative ways to apply what they discover in the data details. The real trick? Making the customer’s content engagement experience feel natural at every step along the buyer’s journey—no matter the starting point.

What Brands (Should) Already Know about Data-Driven Marketing

According to a recent Forrester Consulting study, over 80% of business decision-makers say improving the customer experience is a top priority. Ways to approach this general goal boil down to what’s already working and how to implement improvements in areas where data indicates a lag compared to the competition.

Sounds simple, yet steps to improve customer engagement aren’t all hidden in the data details. It’s about generating and implementing new ideas, a clear method and platform to test them, and a detailed content strategy to slowly integrate data-driven content that adds value without confusing customers.

Transforming data into actionable, creative steps takes a holistic internal marketing infrastructure. What does that mean exactly?

Each person on the team understands how their input supports brand messaging, how consistent messaging impacts the customer’s experience, and how teams can collaborate to bring their specialties into one clear, brand-oriented execution strategy. Industry focus on personalization as a core part of marketing outreach makes this step even more critical. Customers want one seamless shopping experience and for their specific needs to be met in one clear, personalized buyer’s journey.

The biggest part of the challenge? Creating unique, engaging ways to combine what the data reveals, and integrating it with strategies to capitalize on it daily though micro-moments, education, and purchases. The most effective way to kick off this effort is to review data details as a starting point for content strategy and planning prior to any content creation.

Make Data Count for the Customer 

When data is shared equally among teams, and its importance is clearly understood and applied, decision-making is more successful—and teams become more agile and responsive to customer needs.

It’s also why having a strong data-driven infrastructure in place to lead content management is so essential as a strategic brand differentiator.

Think of it this way:

People hit the buy button when one of two things happens: they see something tailor-made for their interests and it comes through at the right time. People join email lists and read educational materials from brands they want to buy from at some point, so create content that focuses on the long game of building customer connection and engagement.

The simple keys to making sure content gets seen and read:

  • It’s opt-in and therefore not “spammy”
  • Relevant to business interests, job title, and price point
  • Educational and applicable to industry challenges or workflow improvements

The same goes for reaching out to potential customers in any industry. There needs to be a cadence for capitalizing on customer preferences, seasonal or industry related timelines, or physical events related to data-driven customer traffic.

For example, industry trade shows. Chances are people on brand teams are already in the spirit of learning and possible shopping as they check out the latest in industry trends and innovations. Take this common industry occurrence and drill it down one step further.

  • Does data show your target market actively shops in those time periods with or without incentives?
  • What kind of customer benefit or marketing push can be offered that goes beyond a discount but encourages online engagement, social media shares, or joining a customer loyalty program?
  • If people are interested—but not ready to buy—how can you create an interesting email capture to inspire them to willingly sign up for future marketing outreach? Content can focus on educational insights or tips for using a product or service offering.

These are just some examples of how data can lead you to get really creative with marketing campaigns strategically, rather than just for the sake of standing out online.

An equally powerful approach is to engage with frequent or big-name customers and ask them to share what they like most about a product or service, and why. Not only is this marketing gold you can use in a myriad of ways, but also a way to demonstrate a willingness to engage with customers as an equal partner in the purchase experience.

Differentiate the Customer Experience Daily 

Making data effective takes more than one big quarterly push. It’s all about understanding how customers are interacting with the brand through the daily data collected, and finding ways for creative teams to leverage those insights as a blend of customer desire and value in a timely way.

According to Stacy Martinet, VP of Marketing Strategy and Communications at Adobe, “A data-driven approach to creativity helps marketers work more productively, create the right content faster, and deliver that content to the right customer, across the right channels, at the right time.”

The blending of data and execution is still in its growth stages for brands, which is what makes having accurate data as a content driver so important. A robust, single view of the customer is derived from pulling data from multiple sources constantly, then taking the extra step to blend a creative use for it with the intelligent data in hand to stand out from the competition.

Ready to streamline your content operation, and go from chaos to calm? Get this guide.

Katrina Pfannkuch

About Katrina Pfannkuch

Katrina Pfannkuch is a creativity consultant specializing in writing, editing, strategy & coaching. She's a bit of a data nerd & loves seeing how pieces of the informational puzzle come together to paint a creative picture. Catch Katrina & her insights on kick-starting creativity at @creativekatrina on Twitter.