The Life of a Data-Driven Marketer
Pictured: Marketers are inundated with metrics and data.
The legendary Peter Drucker once said, “What's measured improves.” We marketers seem to have taken his advice to the extreme. Let me explain.
There was a time when marketing was a cost center, when very few things could be measured in marketing, and when marketers could relate to quotes such as, “Half the money I spend in advertising is wasted, trouble is, I don’t know which half.” In contrast, now is a time when
marketers can measure everything, and are therefore expected to justify everything in terms of an ROI.
Think about the uber-connectivity of the web – now everybody is connected, and almost everything is connected. As a result, you can
track location, movement, conversation, decision and action like never before. And, thanks to the precipitous drop in computing costs and the rise of big data, you can now mix, match and analyze this data ad-nauseum to infer and re-infer conclusions; basically to guess and second-guess yourself over and over again.
Even if every marketing organization doesn’t have a qualified Data Scientist on staff yet, you can be rest assured that almost every one of them has a “numbers person” who “looks at data” twenty different ways for his or her bosses.
Emotional Connections are Essential
The reality though, is that human beings are first and foremost emotional beings, even before they are logical, rational or numerical beings. Stop for a moment and think of someone you lived with
or worked with a few years ago. Don’t read on. I am serious. Stop for a second and think about someone you lived with or worked with a few years ago.
What are you first thoughts about them? I would bet that if your thoughts were positive about the person, it was because of
how the person made you feel. I would bet that if your thoughts weren’t positive about the person, it was also because of how the person made you feel.
When you stopped and looked back at your time with that individual, the first thing that came into your mind was not a list of things you did together or they did for you. The
first thing was a feeling, and that feeling was based on how that person made you feel when you worked and/or lived with them.
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget
what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
-- Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou's Official Website.
As Maya Angelou succinctly said, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
Connect Emotionally with Prospective Customers
This is true of people. This is
also true of buying decisions. Most people who relate emotionally to Apple gravitate to their products. Likewise, most people who prize freedom and choice gravitate towards Android phones. Even those of us who buy for the features (e.g. “I really like the camera in phone X”), buy for how those features make us feel, more than anything else. How many smart phone buyers do a detailed analysis of their life and needs, the features available on each phone, and have made a numerical, logical, and calculated decision on which phone to buy?
As many philosophers have said over the ages, the
fundamental goal of a human being is to attain happiness. And happiness can’t be measured, it is a state of mind. A human being is not a number. If you think of large CRM or Marketing Automation databases, the people inside them are numbers, not human beings. But, a human being is not just a thing to influence or maneuver.
"Metrics are a means to that end. Metrics are not an end unto themselves."
As a marketer, you need to strive to
speak to the person, to their emotions, to their being. You can only do that by putting them first. By prioritizing them. By caring for them. By understanding them. By solving a problem they have in a way that benefits them. By speaking to their emotions. By telling a story. Metrics are a means to that end. Metrics are not an end unto themselves.
6 Takeaways for Data-Driven Marketers
Even as new-age software makes measuring anything and everything possible and we use metrics to measure performance, justify spend and ask for more program dollars, let us not forget:
- As a famous Mathematician once said, “The best model of a cat is a cat. Everything else is leaving out some sort of detail.” Your model is at best a "model" – nothing less, nothing more. It is at best an approximation, not gospel. Never lose sight of that.
- Data is not the “be-all and end-all.” Data is a means to an end. Your approach to data (i.e. how you collect it and its veracity) is just as important.
- Just because you have a lot of data doesn’t mean you can predict – you can still only forecast. What you have is a data model, and some data models are better than others, but none are perfect.
- "Data," "Modelling," and "Forecasting" is a journey, not an event. It isn’t discrete, but probabilistic and dynamic. Think, decide and act probabilistically and iteratively. The reality is that things are changing all the time. With every new information you uncover and every new event that occurs, your model changes and so should your assessments. As Keynes famously said, “When my information changes, I change my mind. What do you do?”
- Human beings are emotional beings before they are rational, logical or objective beings. As a marketer, you need to appeal to people's emotions with your product, and with stories about your company and your products. If you truly care for your users and customers, they will respond. That was and continues to be fundamental to marketing.
- What you have to offer, and the benefit or value you provide is fundamental and foundational to your company’s business strategy. That is your value proposition. Stories are the means to communicate that value proposition to your market. Metrics are what you measure after that. It is important to get the sequence right.
4 Tips to Create Emotional Connections
Photo source: User Tetsumo on flickr.
As a marketer, try to connect emotionally and
viscerally with your prospects and customers:
- SOLVE their most challenging problem. Evoke feelings via your product and via your communication to them – be it emails or on the open web.
- SURPRISE them. Be different. Make them feel good. If they invested fifteen minutes reading your article, be sure there is something tangible and substantial in it for them – something that evokes a feeling of gratitude.
- CONTENT is boring. But, good stories aren’t. Communicate in stories – and in relatable analogies.
- IMAGES are everything. Text is important – but images, videos, sound, etc. are increasingly becoming the essence of good marketing. Use them.
Big data and marketing
automation are important, but let's not end up putting the cart before the horse.