As 2015 is coming to an end and we’re finalizing our marketing plans for the year ahead, I wanted to share with you some insights into the top five questions clients/brands have asked me this year as it relates to data and their data strategy.

Q1:     How does data drive measurable results for my brand?

Data creates personalization and relevancy  allowing you to produce 1:1 communications.  To start, ask yourself, “what is my  application of data?” Marketers should leverage data to obtain one view of their customers to learn and understand who they are and what they prefer. This data knowledge can then be applied to marketing programs, such as direct mail campaigns (which are highly measurable!). Additionally, marketers are applying data strategies to define the right audiences to reach online through email, targeted banner advertising and mobile.

Often, brand marketers ask me how they can measure the success of their brand.  You need to evaluate your brand purpose, leverage data assets to inform your creative and tailor your message.  Make this measureable by testing.  After the data has lead you to the type of imagery and messaging it tells you will resonate, then test it.  Split the customer segment into A/B tests  and try different offers to measure which one performs the best.

Q2:     What  have you observed in 2015 in terms of data applications and how clients are using data to drive results?

It’s really around personalization and the concept of “1:1 communications.”  We are seeing an increased number of brands develop personas as part of their segmentation strategies and systems.  If a brand truly understands their customers personality, their needs and preferences, then these ‘personas’ can have multiple conversations with consumers interested in their brand.

What I’m talking to clients about for 2016 is going a level deeper than personas – leveraging data to get to the segment of one across all channels and devices.

Q3:  What have you observed regarding the shift to online data strategies?  And, how does offline come into play?

Budgets are rapidly shifting and marketers are in a constant state of shuffling budget dollars to maximize spend.  Brands want to be everywhere their consumer is but ultimately in today’s  world the  consumer owns the experience they have with brands.  The biggest challenge for marketers is determining the right mix – how much do I need to know about my customers and how often I need to ‘be with them?’ It’s important to continue to focus on your offline strategies as part of this.  Direct mail is a profitable and measurable channel that creates  a hands-on, tangible experience for customers in today’s digital world. Keep in mind that  direct mail ROI is on par with social media marketing  – median ROI is 17% (eMarketer).

Q4:     Have you seen specific industries shine with success this year as it relates to their data strategies?

Multiple industries have shined with success!  But pure play ecommerce brands come to mind first.  These brands  who were traditionally ‘all hands digital’ are realizing there’s a need to ‘get in the mail.’  This  group of marketers who have not focused on  offline marketing strategies are now achieving success and acquiring new customers with direct mail as  part of their strategic marketing plan.

Q5:     How do you define data-driven creative?  How have brands leveraged this strategy in 2015 and have they achieved success?

Remember, data is both a science and an art.  Heading into 2016, marketers need to think more about the art component. Epsilon defines data-driven creative as: The integration of data and analytics to influence customer-facing communications and ultimately increase the impact of a campaign. During the planning process, data informs the strategy and helps identify the offer, theme, format and message that best resonates with the target audience. The campaign creative is measured via pre-determined metrics and enhancements are then made to refine the strategy.

Data is a powerful asset.  As 2016 approaches, don’t retire your offline hat, keep print alive or, add print to your marketing mix. Leverage in-store, website and online data to help you decide who to mail.  And remember, continue to test.

For more information view this short webinar: Data insights from our experts.

What data strategies are you looking forward to implementing in 2016? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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