There was a time when data-driven marketing was the stuff of trailblazers. Today, it’s a key to survival.

I don’t mean to suggest some marketers aren’t blazing trails by tapping into data-driven processes. A good many actually are. What I do mean to say is as a marketer today, data is as vital as oxygen and water.

I wanted to say data is your eyes and ears, but a well-known marketing master beat me to it…

Geoffrey Moore Tweet

In an age where consumers expect, demand, and tolerate nothing less than relevant messages, winning marketers emphatically wrap their heads and hearts around data. To better understand and serve your audience, you now need to collect data at every touchpoint and apply it to put more informed marketing tactics into play.

What are the benefits of data-driven marketing?

This list is long. Let’s go with seven serious heavyweights. Effective data-driven marketers are able to:

  1. Collect customer insights—Data removes the guesswork. Analytics deliver immense insights into your prospects’ and customers’ spending habits, demographics, passions, and behaviors.
  2. Target more effectively—Importantly, data-driven marketing defines customer segments and target audiences with greater specificity and accuracy. Data becomes the basis for developing customer personas that inspire and drive your marketing efforts.
  3. Personalize the marketing—The powerful combination of data and automation allow you to target the right individuals in the right way across critical touchpoints in the customer journey.
  4. Improve the customer experience—The customer experience has become a key brand differentiator. Data gives you a clearer picture of how buyers engage with your brand and delivers the insights needed to ensure a rewarding customer experience.
  5. Sell more—Data transforms some marketing plays into straightforward sales tactics. For instance, it helps you recognize opportunities to cross-sell and up-sell. It reveals opportunities to sell products to specific customers with greater frequency. It sheds light on opportunities to recognize buyers’ needs more quickly and lead them through the sales funnel more efficiently. And so on.
  6. Measure more effectively—Data is your window into what is and isn’t working. You can measure the effectiveness of marketing strategies in real time and change course fast, or possibly, immediately.
  7. Build an omni-channel brand—Marketers can leverage data to extend reach across channels and get them in-sync. Distributing data-driven ads, offers, content, programs and messages, across channels helps build consistent messages and experiences sure to build a better relationship with the customer.

What types of data do you need?

You start with “hard” data, that is personal information: email addresses, phone numbers, companies, titles, and so forth. You also need “soft” data, that is, behavioral data, which is likely to include:

  • Anonymous first-party party data—People who visit your website are identified by their IP address, which is mapped to a company name if possible.

  • Known first-party party data—People that visit your website and are known by name because they provided contact information.

  • Anonymous third-party data—This data, typically acquired through direct partnerships or vendors, includes people that have visited websites you do not own.

  • Known third-party data. This data includes people that have visited other websites and have provided their information through a contact form.

Data-driven marketers can’t get by with just one or the other. Personal information is essential for basic communication, but personalizing your marketing messages in a meaningful way also requires also having behavioral data.

A data-driven campaign in action: Three Deep works with Behr to discover what content customers review before and after their paint purchase with rebate redemption data and website behavior. The data helps uncover opportunities for follow-up emails aiming to keep the buyer engaged and gather ideas—and tools—for their next project. 

Behr Rebate 2

How is data-driven marketing applied?

Here again, though we could dive deep and produce a massive list, we’ll go with a greatest hits package. Data-driven marketing takes the form of:   

The term “programmatic” has caught on in advertising. Behind the scenes, it applies to the buying and selling of media based on real-time bidding systems. However, its ultimate purpose is to tap the power of data management platforms to enable advertisers to more effectively reach their target audience. Data-driven ad placement applies to:

  • Paid search
  • Paid social
  • Retargeting
  • Native advertising
  • Display

Content marketing
Content marketers can fuel their tanks and increase their mileage through the use of data in many ways:

  • Better understand the target audience
  • Monitor trends
  • Uncover content planning strategies based on keyword research, competitor analysis, and performance metrics
  • Discover channels and content types that perform best

Search engine optimization is no guessing game. Everything about it relies on extracting data and applying it. Some of the most important things search experts rely on data for include:

  • Demographics
  • Visitor intent and behavior
  • Keyword research
  • Competition
  • Rankings and performance metrics
  • Conversion metrics
  • Content planning

Marketing automation
A decade ago, the proliferation and successful implementation of CRM and email collided and gave rise to the explosive and important field of marketing automation. Today, marketing automation continues to evolve and is one the best examples of data-driven marketing. Automated processes driven by data include:

  • Triggered email
  • Data collection and segmentation
  • The presentation of progressive forms
  • Lead scoring
  • Performance measurement

The end-game in data-driven marketing is personalized marketing. Personalized marketing may include one-to-one:

  • Email
  • Video
  • Website content (product and content recommendations)
  • Chat responses
  • Programmatic advertising

Where’s data-driven marketing going?

Unsurprisingly, it’s getting smarter. We have the following advancements to thank:

Artificial intelligence (AI)
The marketing world’s buzzing with talk of AI and machine learning. How do marketers actually benefit from computers making decisions on our behalf?

  • Predictive analytics—Machine learning algorithms help predict the future to give marketers insights into how campaigns are likely to perform, which helps inform how to allocate resources more productively.

  • Prescriptive analytics—Prescriptive analytics offers guidance on what steps marketers should take to accomplish specific goals. For example, prescriptive analytics algorithms can help marketers analyze the potential results of creative output serve as a guide for optimizing the creative.
  • Lookalike modeling—Lookalike modeling can help marketers target prospects that are more likely to convert. Algorithms look at the common characteristics of existing customers and provide valuable insight for targeting. 


Data quality 

“Big data” was a buzzword for quite some time and it tended to focus on volume. But getting a lot of data is the easy part. The hard part is determining what’s useful. Today, marketers are beginning to focus less on the amount of data they have and more on its inherent and intrinsic value.

360-degree customer profiles
Customer profile data can no longer come from a single touch point or channel. Marketers must become smarter about aggregating customer data to develop more all-encompassing profiles of each prospect and what makes them tick.

Customer journey
In the past, marketers often missed the bigger picture by focusing primarily on hard metrics like conversion rate, ad views, clicks, etc. Going forward, you need to understand what the entire customer experience looks like. Savvy marketers now use data to effectively quantify all components of the customer journey.


Adobe Econsultancy Survey


Above are the from the 2019 Digital Trends study by Adobe and Econsultancy. Survey respondents were asked “Which digital-related areas are the top priorities for your organization?” As you see, customer data management took first—and the lengthy list of contenders are interesting and relevant.


What’s are the biggest challenges to achieving success with data-driven marketing?

The success of a data-driven team rarely traces to the data it has. Instead, it lies in the ability to use data to create marketing campaigns. The gap between desire and ability is often large.

According to a 2017 survey by NewVantage Partners,

More than 85% say their firms have started programs to create

data-driven cultures, but only 37% report success thus far.

The authors (of the survey cited above) report, “Big data technology is not the problem; management understanding, organizational alignment, and general organizational resistance are the culprits.”

In an insightful paper published by Google in late 2017, the authors concur. They cite research claiming lack of team education and training on data and analytics is the biggest barrier to making decisions based on data insights. Their recommendations include:

  • Create a training plan to educate people about the tools and opportunities available.
  • Get the C-suite in sync
  • Be open to change and risk
  • Be clear on your data strategy
  • Work together; formalize channels for collaboration across departments
  • Create new roles for analysts
Data Driven Marketer's Strategic Playbook


Data presented in The Data-Driven Marketer’s Strategic Playbook.

Are you ready for data to drive your marketing?

“No” isn’t the ideal answer, but “We don’t plan to get ready” is downright dangerous. Without data-driven strategies and tactics, your marketing is sure to be less efficient and less effective. It’s destined to suffer in comparison to your competitors.

So, it’s time to ask questions such as:

  • Have you articulated data-driven goals?
  • Is making a cultural transformation to data-driven marketing a priority?
  • Where do analytics fall in your organization?

And then there’s this key question:

  • Can you handle data and analytics inhouse or would it be wiser to outsource some of your needs agency partner?

Perhaps you feel unsure or a bit lost. Don’t panic. Partner with an experienced digital marketing expert that can steer.

Three Deep Marketing partners with big brands like Behr, Red Wing and Gerber to develop data-driven marketing programs based on practical and progressive paths. All-important to the planning is an initial assessment to examine your current status, goals and challenges.

It all begins with a maturity assessment. The path to productivity with data-driven marketing tends to be marked by three essential steps:

  1. Put processes in place to use data to assess digital marketing “health” metrics. Analysts here say it all begins with “putting the train on the tracks.”
  2. Explore opportunities to advance data-driven initiatives such as buyer segmentation and regression modeling.
  3. Employ 1:1 marketing with the integration of customer data platforms and marketing automation to power personalized marketing and create a powerful competitive advantage.

Request an expert to ask the questions needed to get you started.