What You Need to Know About Data in Marketing

What You Need to Know About Data in Marketing

Gone are the days when marketers work off assumptions or gut feeling. Marketing has undergone a fundamental shift, with marketers turning to the most reliable source of information, customer data. But what exactly is data-driven marketing? Why is it so important? And how does accurate data in marketing fit into providing the consumer with what they want?


Today, marketers have access to a vast variety of tools that enable them to collect a range of data at different stages of their marketing campaigns. The digital age has created a widened reach, but also pinpoint targeting accuracy.

What marketers need to keep in mind, however, is that data is not a substitute for good marketing and brand message, data only helps assist and refine this. It isn’t as easy as just checking analytics. It is important to identify how the data collected can make a campaign better, what the customers are actually wanting and how this data could be used to drive more sales.

As technology evolves, as does the accessibility of data, which has seen multiple trends and changes emerge in recent years. To better speak to their customers, marketers should be focusing on automation, speed and optimisation.

How is data-driven marketing different to traditional marketing?

Data-driven marketing is optimising brand communications based on customer information. Marketers use their customer data to determine consumer needs and future behaviours and also, to develop personalised marketing strategies which will achieve the best possible return on investment.

What makes data-driven marketing more advanced than traditional marketing? To compare the two, we must look back on the original purpose of marketing. Marketing has always focused on two goals, firstly to find out customers’ needs and wants, and secondly, to use this information to deliver what customers want to buy. 

Traditional marketing teams would use a combination of market studies available at the time and their assumptions about the target audience. Today, with customer insights readily available, marketers have no excuse to not use data as marketing leverage.

Data benefits go beyond just improving communications. Many modern marketers use customer insights to personalise the customer experience, target well-defined marketing segments, attract new customers and improve marketing strategies in real time.

Why is data important?

“Without big data analytics, companies are blind and deaf, wandering out onto the web like deer on a freeway,” says author Geoffery Moore via a Tweet in 2012.

A deer who finds itself on a freeway is clearly lost and out of its depth. Moore makes the comparison of the deer on a freeway with a marketer with no data, both with nowhere to go.

It is crucial for marketers to keep up with the ever-changing digital world if they want to see success. For one, data helps gain clarity of the target audience. Being able to see customer behaviour is like striking gold, it allows marketers to reach their target with the right message at the right time.

Secondly, data can help build stronger connections with potential customers and at a much greater scale. Tom Benton, CEO of the Data and Marketing Association addresses this in a Forbes article, “the sheer amount of data from a near-infinite combination of media, devices, platforms and channels allows marketers the opportunity to deliver one-to-one customer experiences at a massive scale. If these are leveraged adeptly, a business with a million customers can deliver an experience just as tailored as a business with a dozen customers.”

Data can also help marketers get personal with their customers, as some find a generic marketing message sceptical and uninteresting. Access to data means marketers can focus on personalising the experience and identify customers’ triggers and pain points.

Data in marketing trends

Although data is readily available, marketers still struggle to keep up with the endless possibilities of analysis. It is in recent years that trends have emerged to help utilise customer data without getting lost in all the nit and grit.

One trend marketers have jumped onboard with is the use of automation and amplification. Automation services like chatbots, personalised emails and reminders are commonly used in marketing and have been proven to provide a better customer experience. Online, if a customer is having trouble purchasing a product, some sites offer chat bots that can assist with customer queries. Similarly, when customers have added a product to their online shopping basket and either left it or forgotten about it, a reminder can pop up to ask the customer if they would still like to purchase the item.

Speed and scale also need to be factored in. Alike to technology, data is constantly evolving and growing, and at rapid speed. The increase in data has made companies realise how important it now is to have excellent data scientists and data analysts. Universities are also in high demand for data-literary people which will only continue to rise over time. As data continues to broaden marketers who use it will find success ahead of their non-data competitors.

For more trends in marketing, read out Futures Trend Report.

About Mollie Edwards

Mollie Edwards writes across ICG business titles, NZ Marketing, StopPress and The Register.

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