How brands can master big data by learning the power of one

Brands need to optimise for people, not data
Brands need to optimise for people, not data

Marketing technology tools don't treat people like people, says Alicianne Rand, VP marketing at NewsCred, they treat them like data points.

As data-driven marketers, we obsessively measure all sorts of analytics – page views, shares, time on site, unique users – but rarely do we ever look at the actual human beings behind all that data

Today’s marketing technology has a fundamental problem. The tools we use don’t treat people like people. They treat people like data points. As data-driven marketers, we obsessively measure all sorts of analytics – page views, shares, time on site, unique users – but rarely do we ever look at the actual human beings behind all that data.

A personal journey

That’s because unlike data points, individual relationships with brands are a personal journey. Across all channels and devices, people are engaging with your brand and you don’t even know it. Those journeys may start one morning via an email read on a mobile device, that may lead to them searching for and reading a news article about your brand, checking out your Twitter, clicking through to a competitor’s advertisement, and leading to a sale weeks later. Journeys do not begin and end with a single banner ad today. Yes, attribution becomes more challenging but it’s certainly not impossible.

Marketers hear every day that they need to tie together behavioural, demographic, and transactional data on their consumers. But again, those don’t fully illustrate what the buyers do before they become known to you. And with 70% of the buyer’s journey being completed before the first outreach to sales is made, content is often the only asset you have to reach them at those early stages.

Content journeys

A view into content journeys, as outlined in tools such as our Audience Insights analytics engine, shows you what audiences engage with before they sign up, subscribe, request a meeting, or buy. What do people prefer to read, watch, or see? What type of content resonates with them and why? What are they sharing?

Stop relying on the funnel and stop obsessing over getting people to fill out forms

Stop relying on the funnel and stop obsessing over getting people to fill out forms. Tracking the content will tell you more. Having insight into real-time consumer interactions with content (your brand’s and with your competition’s) elevates the relationships you can have with your customers. You know them and what they want; before they even know they really want you.

Think of this in action:

Pre-emptive strike: If you see a prospect sharing your competitor’s marketing materials on Twitter, send them a swag box with your materials instead and let the Tweets roll in. The social "thank you" is their first proactive touchpoint with you so don’t ruin the opportunity.

Invite others to the table: Have a meeting with a lead and see their company’s social media manager has visited your company’s blog frequently? Suggest they come to your meeting as they could help you close the deal with their energy and advocacy for your offer.

Check different channels: Notice that someone has liked everything you’ve shared on Facebook, but has never engaged on LinkedIn? Reply on Twitter with the link to a post they might like on your LinkedIn as well, and grow your content across different platforms.

Personalised for a single individual

All of these actions have one thing in common: they work because they’re personalised for that single individual, with that job, at that company, with those interests. Sometimes marketers can conflate "audience" and "individual." I mean the very literal "segment of one." Sending out a swag box doesn’t mean as much if there are 1,000 other people tweeting their Instagrams of it at the same time. People are smart and can be cynical at times. They will assume you bought a list of everyone with their title and you may do your reputation more harm than good (also, lists are often outdated so you’re likely to just be burning money). By knowing the individuals through their content journey, you’re getting an unbelievable competitive advantage. These are often opportunities you previously never would have known you had so make that first touchpoint a truly personalised one.

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