No Excuses, Just Insight

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"Information that was once implicit is now explicit—and available to marketers." -Atique Shah, Cox Automotive's VP of advanced analytics.

Ginger Conlon
Ginger Conlon

With all the data available today, marketers have no excuse for saying they don't understand their customers.”

Atique Shah made this assertion when we spoke recently about his plans for leveraging data to improve the experience for customers, auto dealers, and auto manufacturers as Cox Automotive's new VP of advanced analytics.

“Consumers readily give up information about their likes and preferences, hobbies and habits, and their intent to purchase,” he added. “Information that was once implicit is now explicit—and available to marketers.”

Data by the numbers
Shah's insight comes not a moment too soon. Data overload can stymie marketers' innovation. In fact, Audrey Melofchik, EVP of client services at Organic Inc., said when we met recently, “Many of our clients feel overwhelmed by data. One way marketers can feel less so is to look at data that mirrors their creative briefs, so they track the right metrics.” In other words, determine strategy and goals first, and the data and metrics will follow.

“Marketers shouldn't lose sight of what it is they're trying to achieve and what it is they're trying to measure,” she added. “They need to be sure to track and measure what they actually set out to do.”

Organic CEO David Shulman echoed Melofchik's sentiment during our meeting. “Marketers need to measure the right things, so they're not overwhelmed by measuring everything.”

Melofchik noted that marketers she works with are increasingly interested in behavioral data that shows how customers and prospects move through the purchase funnel. This can help them with message sequencing and personalization, among other tactics. But, Shulman warned, “Don't target customers at different stages of the funnel with the same messages.” Personalize, he advised.

Shulman also emphasized the importance of using customer data not just to know who to target with what messages through which channels and when, but also who to exclude—which goes back to staying true to your strategy.

Let technology be your guide
Yes, strategy should always come first. But once that's in place and marketers have their hands full of all that juicy customer data, they can add some technology to do the kind of personalization and targeting that Shulman recommends.

As Matthew Greitzer, cofounder and COO of programmatic media-buying company Accordant Media, says in “The Merger of Ad Tech and Mar Tech,” for marketers trying to make sense of their customer data, “the legacy systems that have existed for the last decade or more are simply no longer sufficient…new [marketing] technology is needed to help marketers and advertisers power the data-based decisions they want to make.”

Mar tech isn't the only set of tools marketers require today to get the customer insight they need. Mobile is an absolute must-have, asserts Michael Becker, cofounder and managing partner of mobile consultancy mCordis. “With mobile, that science fiction of one-to-one marketing we were promised back in 1996 is now a reality,” Becker says in “Could Mobile Be Marketers' Magic Bullet? “We can finally do it.”

Getting personal
In fact, brands such as Cox Automotive and Jaguar are doing their utmost to talk to their customers and prospects in the most contextually relevant ways possible. “We really are trying to put the customer first, and we want to make sure that we're respecting the relationship we have with them,” Laura DeStefanis, advertising and marketing analyst for Jaguar North America, says in “The Art (and Science) Behind Jaguar's Marketing Performance.” “You really need to make sure that the communication is talking directly to the person.”

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