Seven data-driven marketing predictions for 2017

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

Nick Evans is marketing practice director at Jaywing.

Data and analytics have become indispensable for marketers during 2016, yet most of us would agree that we’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s possible.

Here are seven data-driven marketing trends that I predict for 2017:

Marketers will adopt advanced marketing attribution to optimise marketing

Improving marketing attribution has been high on our client’s agenda lately. Now, and in the upcoming year, measuring attribution will be done at an advanced level and marketing objectives will more closely align with revenue contribution. Yet many marketers we speak to are still using simple attribution models, which are not capable of effectively tracking today’s multi-device and multi-channel customer.

Advanced attribution goes beyond delivering just accurate measurement, providing ‘what if’ scenario planning and optimisation recommendations, allowing organisations to drill down to results at an individual level across all channels. This enables you to prioritise your channels more effectively and see the role each one plays in conversion. Advanced attribution gives the right value to each interaction for each customer, providing marketers with an accurate understanding of their customer base as individuals so they can more effectively target investment and engage each individual in a personalised way.

Brands will deliver the personalised communications we’ve been waiting for

In order for brands to provide the customer with this positive experience – both online and offline – they must deliver individually personalised communications that go beyond the basics of recognising name or gender, for example. The goal is to provide people with an experience that reflects their past preferences and behaviours and that anticipates what they are going to want or need next. In order for brands to target customers in a personalised way it is necessary to take a step back – brands must first understand their customers. Through the process of data management, analysis modelling and segmentation, brands can be equipped to send personalised offers to increase engagement and spend. Providing, of course that they have the right technology and creative templates to deliver these personalised messages via their key channels.

Marketers will finally develop a cross-channel view of customers and their behaviours

Customers are becoming increasingly sophisticated and demanding of brands. They are interacting across many platforms, and have an expectation now that the brands they use at least recognise them across channels, and secondly deliver greater levels of timely and relevant content to them. Given these increased levels of customer sophistication, and the ease with which customers can shop around, or switch, delivering and maintaining an excellent customer experience across channels will be of paramount importance. New technology can help organisations to capture previously hidden online interactions at an individual level, and combine this with historical customer and transactional data to drive better insights and a more personalised customer experience.

Predictive analytics will take marketing to the next level

During 2016, more brands have become focused on the predictive power of data. According to a 2016 Forrester study, marketers began to implement predictive analytics during 2016, with 89% saying predictive analytics was on their roadmap for 2016. Going into 2017, we’re likely to see more organisations adopting this approach.

With more brands recording interactions with customers at a more granular level, the onus is on marketers to use this data not only to understand past trends but also to predict future behaviour. Imagine knowing what your customer’s are likely to do next; or knowing what types of offers or content they prefer. Armed with these future insights, you will be empowered to be better at what you’re already doing and to focus on where buyers are.

Organisations will prepare and start implementing GDPR initiatives

With the implementation date for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) just around the corner, it’s essential that organisations get to grips with the new legislation and adopt best practice data management strategies as soon as possible. Not only is it important to get this right for GDPR purposes, but consumers have growing expectations that their data is used responsibly by brands, and that they do receive the right level and type of messages – failure to recognise this will result in brands being opted-out of by consumers. Customer consent is the single most important piece of data for brands aspiring to personalisation, without it great data, great analytics, great creative and offer become meaningless.

Marketers will increase investment in data and analytics to drive value from customer data

While technology allows us to collect more data than ever before and faster computers make it easier to process, it’s people that make all of this possible. There is lots of data, and the amounts generated via web traffic, social media and transactional behaviour is growing exponentially. The challenge is increasing all the time, but so too are the opportunities for businesses able to use analysis, and emerging technologies and techniques to mine these data. Finding good commercially astute analysts has always been a challenge and this is is an even more acute problem now given the increasing volumes of data, out-stripping the availability of resource to mine it. McKinsey’s report ‘Big Data: The next frontier for innovation, competition and productivity’ estimates a shortage of 180k data scientists in the US alone by 2018.

New data sources require new analytical skills, data scientists able to mine unstructured data, available in real time streams, and then to deploy relevant communications at the appropriate and most timely moment. Finding value nuggets among these massive data sources is increasingly challenging but the opportunity lies in investment in data, insight and technology, and getting the right calibre of people able to drive value from data before your competitors do.

Brands that are brave will leave others behind

The data analytics revolution now underway has the potential to transform how brands engage customers, measure and optimise marketing and ultimately stay ahead of their competitors. While the opportunities for data-driven marketers are huge, as are the dangers in doing it poorly. Some brands are have not started their data journey, and some have stalled along the way, either because of complacency, lack of investment, lack of awareness, and some are fearful of change, believing that any change to the status quo will damage existing levels of perceived good performance. These brands are those most vulnerable to attack from challengers brands that value data and analytics which are an essential part of the way they ‘do business’.

Brands need to be brave and invest, as those that do will receive exponential benefits, and the insight that will help them continue to learn and grow through data-driven marketing and leave others behind.

Nick Evans is marketing practice director at Jaywing

Nick Evans

Nick Evans is marketing practice director at Jaywing

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