The roles of the creative and the analyst have been notoriously separate functions within companies. Within our brains though, we have two hemispheres that have to work together: the left and the right.
While the functions of the two hemispheres aren’t as discreet as pop-science might have you believe, as humans, we’re considered non-functional if the two don’t work to balance each other. Yet, as marketers we insist that the data sits on one side of the table, while the creative sits on the other.
Marketing using both hemispheres
This does not mean that marketers need to suddenly become experts in design and analytics. Indeed, in the brain, the two spheres are specialized, which allows us to increase our processing capacity, according to professor Stephen Wilson of University College London in LiveScience. But how can marketing teams increase their own processing capacity by adding these skillsets to their teams and creative work?
Creative teams talk about the 'ah-ha' moment; the spark that ignites a great idea or campaign. Meanwhile, data analysts look at the results of those campaigns and apply their work to eke the most out of programmatic planning.
But data doesn’t have to be an after-the-fact, operational-only, or logical add-on to the marketing function. Great use of data can be inspiring and, and when used well, can power creative campaigns or even an understanding of your brand and audience that is impossible with creativity alone.
Where’s your data hiding?
Of course, there’s data from consumer research that often sparks a discussion among a team of marketers. But what about the data that’s already at your disposal?
Product teams spend hours pouring over data to look for ways to improve the experience for users. Transport app, and soon-to-be transport provider, CityMapper launched a free bus route “as a genuine experiment to test the software stack Citymapper has developed to run and operate a bus network.” Will the data they collect make it back into their marketing plans?
You don’t have to be a tech company to have product data available to use for marketing purposes. For example, Domino’s data from their consumer research led the company to change its pizza recipe. The data unequivocally told them that consumers thought Domino's pizza tasted like cardboard. This particular data point also made it into the marketing campaign the company ran.
You don’t have to have the answers as to why the data looks the way it does to create great campaigns. Chances are, someone within Spotify’s in-house team thought some of their user data was funny and interesting, including the fact that 3,749 people streamed ‘It's The End Of The World As We Know It’ the day of the Brexit Vote. Now, through this outdoor spot, so do we.
Consumer fitness brand Fitbit took this tactic to keep its users engaged. Fitbit’s VP of marketing, Tim Rosa told Fast Company how data is used to provide users with more relevant and meaningful content. If they find user engagement lagging, they can then find ways to spark more engagement.
Though marketers consistently report struggling with finding their content’s ROI, there’s no doubt that content provides a wealth of data that many companies haven’t tapped into yet.
Content data does not have to come from blog posts or videos. AirBnB considered how their audience searches for destinations, and then teamed up with Hearst to create an editorial magazine that featured many of the high-interest destinations.
Making sure that marketing teams are able to connect these data sources, often already in existence within your company or team, is how you can make sure that your marketing isn’t functioning on only half a lobe. Smarter, better campaigns can get their creative juice from the analytics – it’s worth the squeeze.
Clare Carr is VP of marketing at Parse.ly.