The revolution for marketers: Data-driven engagement marketing

Over the last decade, marketers witnessed a quiet evolution, as promotion and trade spending slowly combined and created a version of shopper marketing that delivered shopper solutions and retail merchandising benefits. Those traditionally separate and distinct promotion and trade budgets began to meld together in opportunistic ways delivering stronger results than either spending bucket could deliver alone.

We’ve now reached a tipping point where this evolution is no longer as quiet or as distinct as it once was.  The growth in shopper marketing is accelerating and moving beyond those two traditional spending sources and beyond its traditional in-store mission. Traditional advertising and media funds are now being added to this mix creating a new discipline­ — “data-driven engagement marketing” and an entirely new way to achieve multiple marketing objectives simultaneously. How did this change come about?

Data-driven engagement marketing upends the aging silos of marketing: Advertising drives awareness; consumer promotion delivers sales; trade gains merchandising. AC&T spending buckets have been the three legs of the “marketing spending stool” since the ’70s. Each had its role, but each had a major weakness: Advertising failed to ensure transaction. Promotion often communicated the wrong brand equity message. And trade cheapened the value equation.

Digital marketing, data-driven marketing and programmatic media buying are all experiencing hefty growth in an otherwise flat advertising industry. These new technologies can deliver positive marketing results individually, but when combined with the growing shopper marketing discipline, these technologies deliver far-reaching, short-term and long-term results never before seen in the industry. As a result, we believe that data-driven engagement marketing will tear down the walls of traditional marketing spend.

Because data-driven engagement marketing leverages the power of digital, social and mobile — working in concert — awareness, merchandising and trial can be gained at once. These tactics blur the lines of traditional spend because they can do more than one thing at a time and can be measured to assure they do more than one thing well.

Look at Best Buy and the launch of the new Athena program to unify the chain’s online and offline data. Best Buy will be able to identify their target audience based on browser history and demographics as well as purchase behavior. Vendors will be able to leverage Athena to partner with Best Buy and identify the right shopper and deliver the right message and offer. The ability to launch products through a retailer’s shopper base isn’t cheap but it may be the most effective way to achieve awareness and conversion objectives simultaneously.

Another great example is Target’s Cartwheel app, which tackles the three legs of marketing in one tool. The “What’s Trending” button delivers product awareness news, while the shopper gets offers targeted to their specific household. Consumers can also advocate favorites through Cartwheel’s link to social media. Behind the scenes, it’s the data that Cartwheel can collect and leverage that truly breaks new ground.

The data secured through data-driven engagement marketing is more sophisticated, personal and efficient in reaching a consumer or shopper seamlessly and without disruption. This data can then be used over time delivering relevant messages as consumers move through product lifecycles. Retailers are now looking to their vendor partners to harness this data to achieve joint objectives.

Manufacturers and retailers are working together to achieve all three traditional objectives in singular programs and, guess what? They’re looking to fund these efforts from all three traditional budgets.

So I ask: Why do many companies continue to fund, staff and execute three separate marketing efforts when one initiative can achieve all three objectives? In the post-Great Recession age of “doing more with less” it seems that integrated marketing through data-driven engagement marketing changes the game for good.

We’ve seen the evolution; here comes the revolution.