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How can marketers turn data into insight for personalisation?

Refining the customer experience has never been more important for today's brands. The Drum spoke to industry leaders operating in data, to provide insight into the big opportunities provided by big data.

In the age of austerity and accountability, the role of data has never been more important in understanding consumers, their habits, and what drives their behaviour. Marketers now have access to data from a variety of different sources – purchasing data, social media, customer service interactions and web searches are just a few of the elements comprising what has become known as big data.This huge amount of data can be leveraged to glean insight about consumer behaviour, ultimately influencing targeted decision making and creating successful campaigns. But amid concerns over consumer privacy online, brands and marketers need to be aware of what value this data really holds, and how it can be used without crossing a line with consumers.As part of a series looking at the importance of data, we catch up with a cross-section of the industry to find out how marketers can turn data into insight, eg. for personalisation in marketing strategies.Ben Hatton, managing director, RippleffectAny brand can have access to data and use technology to make recommendations, but the skill is being able to give customers a real sense of direction. The more a business knows about its customer the more it can shape their experience by delivering targeted and relevant content.A regular visitor to a specific website should begin to receive a more personalised experience. If the company recommends products that may be of interest, based on the data they have previously entered, the chance of increased click-through rates grows dramatically.Having a recommendation engine offering a more customised experience dependent on consumer habits will drive conversion rates and encourage visitors to spend more. This is about adding value to the consumer experience by saving them time and effort. If they have quicker access to the products they like, they will respond by spending more money or returning.Using data to improve on the personalisation aspect will be crucial for marketers, and how they convert it into insight will determine its success. Data is no longer just about names and addresses on a spreadsheet but it is knowledge into how the customer base shop. Having this insight can transform how a consumer views a brand - the more personalised their experience the more likely they are to share it.Perhaps an even more valuable attribute for gaining insight from consumer data is that knowledge can shape future product releases and marketing campaigns. Using the information gained from targeted audiences online habits companies can then assess its current product offering, determine where they should develop its range and what would likely be a success for the brand.Data from an analytical sense will not only help increase loyalty and build its consumer base but can also shape the direction of the business.Chris Hauth, director of strategy, affilinetAs marketing looks to make itself more relevant to consumers, data by itself isn't enough. To turn data into gold, organisations must have the basics in place. In my opinion that incorporates a high performing infrastructure that is geared towards helping them to integrate information. This is especially true as data becomes more fragmented. Content is no longer just numbers based, but includes videos, likes, tweets etc. A classic SQL database simply isn't enough, it won't generate the insights you need. The faster you can interpret data the more agile your marketing can be. Alongside this infrastructure you also need a dedicated business intelligence (BI) team and give every employee an understanding of BI. There has been a lot written about how people who can draw insights from data will see their value in the job market skyrocket over the coming years and it’s true. Data is meaningless unless it is interpreted. And finally there is visualisation. A business intelligence team can generate knowledge but the best way of bringing that to life and understanding the impact of those insights on your business is to utilise visuals. Here we are talking about infographics and not excel graphs. Again, it’s about presenting value, not numbers.Gavin Stirrat, managing director EMEA, Millennial MediaThe first thing marketers need to do is understand their audience – or work with a partner who can help identify the key characteristics of that audience. Use the different digital channels you have available – from mobile, online, social – to provide a feedback loop that can provide this insight. It is then possible to build profiles of audience groups, based on context and behaviour.Analyse the campaigns you are running, particularly insight available from the issuance and redemption of particular offers. Maybe you find that a specific offer from one of your communications channels has a higher redemption rate at a particular time of day. Your messaging can then be tailored and your marketing spend targeted to this particular segment.The value of targeting using big-data is the ability to derive insights from patterns within that aggregated real-world data. The targeting is based on insight, not identity. This combination of data has real time-sensitive value to marketers, as audience segments can be identified and targeted in real-time.Jack McLaren, digital account manager, 4Ps MarketingTechnology alone is not enough to manipulate data. An overly rigid structure in a marketing team can lead to the wrong people holding the wrong data. Whether this is a lack of communication between analysts and marketers or digital marketers lacking the training and development they need to understand the data for their own roles, personalisation of marketing strategies through data relies on communication and having the right people on the ground to draw up insights and conclusions. Having clear marketing and business objectives will enable analysts and marketers to work together to use data in a way that benefits the overarching digital strategy.Jamie Brighton, product marketing manager EMEA, AdobeThere is a treasure trove of information on people visiting a site that marketers can use to help them deliver relevant content; this data is considered Non-Personally Identifiable Information data (from customers opting to share cookies). This could be whether the customer is a new or returning visitor, what they’ve done on the site on previous visits, what products they’ve previously shown interest in, what campaigns they’ve been exposed to and so on.Recent research from Adobe and Econsultancy reveals that 52 per cent of digital marketers surveyed agree that ‘the ability to personalise content is fundamental to online strategy’ – indeed, the more relevant the page the visitor lands on, the more likely they are to convert the sale. The level of detail marketers can drill down into is phenomenal. By understanding who is visiting the website, mobile site or app, marketers will be able to target, and retarget customers, with offers that make the whole experience more relevant.Debbie Oates, principal consultant data & analytics, Experian Marketing ServicesOrganisations are drowning in data – only those that know how to turn that data into relevant and actionable insight will thrive. This new age in customer intelligence goes beyond traditional fixed segments or intuitive hypotheses – although a good grounding in what your customers look like and how they behave will still be fundamental to marketers. Insight now needs to be customer centric and focused on how to drive increased customer conversion and create the right cross sell and up-sell opportunities. Greater data capture will increase the importance of modelling to predict customer’s behaviours as well as the ability to use the data collected to trigger activity based on what it tells you about the customer, together with more dynamic segmentations where the customer can change state based on their behaviour – eg. email engagement, customer life stage and product purchase views. This will lead to organisations having far greater mix of models, segments and triggers which they can overlay on customers like different lenses to provide different views dependent on the circumstance.Data image via Shutterstock

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