Opinion

Data can be a marketer’s most valuable superpower

6 min read

22 September 2015

James Collins, MD at Rakuten Attribution, part of Rakuten Marketing, explains why data that provides marketers with an understanding their customers’ full journey to purchase is critical.

Data is definitely on trend. In fact, it’s not surprising that data scientist was recently named the ‘sexiest job of the 21st century’, because interpreting data can appear so complicated that mastering it can be likened to a superpower.

Understanding your customers has always been central to successful marketing, but now data is providing brands with more insights into audience behaviour than ever before. As a result, using data to continually evaluate and improve campaign performance is now a key marketing skill.

Brands that manage their data insights intelligently are reaping the rewards of a measured approach, and combating challenges like wasted spend and serving audiences irrelevant marketing.

Big data, big challenge

However, whilst data can make marketers’ jobs easier, it’s also adding complications to their working lives. There are a few reasons for this; firstly, we are producing so much data. Britain is expected to create an average of 56,000 big data jobs a year until 2020 as a result of the data swell. 

Secondly, this big data is produced by many sources, so it’s more difficult for the marketer to understand how their customers are behaving. For instance, the same person is producing data across mobile, desktop and tablet all in one day. How are marketers supposed to know when their customer drops one device in favour of continuing their shopping journey on another?

Our research has found that a customer is likely to make 9.5 visits to a site before buying. Where once people would go to the high street and buy something immediately, they are now ‘considered purchasers’, researching items on their mobile, tablet and desktop before buying in store, for example.

Thanks to Google, researching products is easy so there is competition for the best price, product and even delivery options amongst brands, but for marketers this means it’s harder to understand user behaviour and where their marketing budget will be most effective.

View and measure marketing through omnichannel lenses

Because people have changed how they shop, marketers need to change how they engage those customers. They need to know when the customer moves between devices, or from online to offline channels, to target them with relevant marketing.

For example, if a shopper has viewed a t-shirt online but not purchased it, it would be useful if the retailer could target them offline afterwards, for example with a 20% discount if they buy the item in store.

The journey the ‘considered purchaser’ goes on makes it unlikely for brands to strike a sale on their first interaction with a customer. In order to obtain accurate insights about how their customers are behaving, brands need to ensure that they collect data within the context of the omnichannel purchase journey.

By gathering data about all the different media and devices customers are using in their journey towards a purchase, brands are more likely to capture their true behaviour and ensure that they can invest marketing spend in the places that they know will drive end results.

Sophia Evgeniou, head of customer acquisition at House of Fraser supports this. “Within my customer acquisition team, our focus is to identify channels that perform and ensure we are not cutting out the first or middle touch points that have absolutely played a part in a customer journey,” she said. 

“To do this and really gain value we need to understand the impact from each channel.”

Wasted marketing spend

When businesses aren’t looking at the omnichannel view of their marketing activity, they don’t have a view of performance across their business. We’ve found that these siloes can result in up to 20 per cent of their marketing spend being wasted.

In fact, before implementing attribution, we see many businesses are optimising each channel to a different measurement model. 

For one client, all of the sales claimed by individual channels added up to almost quadruple the total revenue! By considering the full sales cycle and optimising to the same measure of success, all channels will see significant ROI and efficiency improvements.

There is an increasing expectation that marketers can quickly find the nuggets of data that point to success or wastage of existing spend. 

However, as campaign data continuously reproduces itself and the consumer journey becomes more complex, finding these bits of information will be near impossible unless marketers view and measure their customers’ full shopping journeys across all channels. 

Data is the marketing superpower to combat wasted spend, and can incrementally improve campaigns, but only if marketers view its findings through the right lens.

James Collins, MD at Rakuten Attribution, part of Rakuten Marketing, explains why data that provides marketers with an understanding their customers’ full journey to purchase is critical.