Data is everything in the modern marketing industry, and many of the issues it presents are uniquely 21st century issues. Marketers must identify all of the available sources of data, and then determine who owns that data. They need to leverage that data, ensuring it helps drive better results within campaigns that are developed in the best interest of the brand's customers.
The internet truly changed everything when it came to marketing data, empowering every marketer to gather and apply data instantaneously. This allowed a marketer to talk to each of their consumers in a very relevant way. But how many are actually managing and implementing data strategy effectively?
The sources of data are numerous, but the most valuable asset -- and the easiest to grow -- is the marketer's first-party data. This is the data collected from web properties, mobile app properties, email campaigns, direct marketing efforts -- it is all of the data owned by marketing, encapsulating both online and offline sources.
The biggest challenge for online marketers today is the lack of thorough knowledge of their consumer once they leave the brand's online properties. This is because so many marketers have outsourced campaign elements and data collection to several vendors. Savvy marketers may have a very thorough understanding of what consumers do on their owned and operated properties -- they can see what pages the consumers visit, what they're interested in, how often they return, and more. But they may very well be blind to other behaviors, such as search, online purchase, and other brand interactions. Access to that data would be a powerful tool in the marketer's arsenal.
Fortunately, marketers have a number of methods of data collection available at their disposal, as well as mechanisms to help collect and aggregate this valuable data in a secure way. Pixels, a commonly used piece of technology for anonymously tracking behavior, can be further customized to pass along valuable information such as items purchased and searches performed, among others. By doing this, marketers are listening to the consumers' signals, and are able to do so more attentively than they were by merely recording data on their owned and operated web properties.
Another key step is figuring out where to listen. Marketers have lots of first-party data resources -- they may have offline CRM data they can link to online logins, or email newsletter behavioral data that can be combined with pixel data from a website. By combining these data sources in-house, advertisers can produce a very clear picture of their consumer. Better yet, they have a transparent understanding of what piece of data went into their portrait of their consumer -- something that isn't possible when each individual marketing and data channel is managed by an outside vendor.
When recording all of this data, it's of the utmost importance to protect the consumer as well. While marketers may have personally identifiable information for a consumer on file (perhaps via a loyalty card or mailing list) they must maintain the use of anonymous data for online targeting, and house their data in secure servers. Using data in marketing is important -- protecting and securing that data is just as important.
When all of these steps are taken -- listening, learning, and securing -- marketers gain the ability to converse with their consumers in the most relevant ways, addressing their customers and prospects as an individuals. Marketing is no longer a pushed message, but a piece in a larger, long-term conversation with and about the brand. Data makes this possible, and marketers can use it in combination with technology that allows them to deliver personalized messages.
This is the new world of marketing, one where data collection, understanding, and action take moments, rather than months or years. The internet has sparked an era of constant change, and marketers now have the technology to learn about their consumers, and how different segments of their target audience think, feel, and behave. Data has opened up a world of possibilities, and as long as marketers take the necessary steps to gather, understand, and protect their data, they are in a place to deliver high-performing, relevant marketing messages.
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