The Art Of Data-Driven Marketing

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Emily Ketchen | Chief Marketing Officer & VP, Intelligent Devices Group at Lenovo | Global Marketing Executive.

Historically, the marketing field has attracted creatives of all kinds, those who like to dream and tell stories and create art. Teams of creatives would spend months developing the perfect treatment for a 60-second spot or billboard. And while, in practice, much of this is still true, the marketing world has modernized. In addition to an artistic sensibility, marketing requires both discipline and a curiosity about your customer.

With the rise of analytics, AI and data-driven technology, learning about your brand’s core audience has become easier and, dare I say, more compelling than ever. Data and data synthesis now infuse the creative process, informing everything from the brief to creative development to campaign performance.

Fusing Art And Science

So, how do you fuse art and science? To start at the beginning, garner insights from the research you do about the target audience and couple that with the innovation you’re trying to discuss. Use first- and third-party data to inform the brief, aka your creative mission.

Throughout the creative development process, evaluate using quantitative testing and measure the efficacy of the creative against a particular target audience. In creative tests, try to understand the emotional connection and reaction to the story you’re telling. This is done by measuring what emotion is being felt and the intensity of that emotion. Other times, brand fluency is tested to make sure the target audience knows who and what the marketing or ad is for. Doing more rounds of testing (sometimes with a lower sample size) can help you to understand the impacts of things like logo placements, voiceovers and on-screen text. Once tested and in-market, look at the performance of the creative, measuring with KPIs or with A/B testing to see what’s resonating best.

Bringing It To Life

A great example of this process at work is Lenovo’s new campaign: Just Watch Us. The campaign spotlights world-class athlete Gabby Thomas and international fashion model/activist Zinnia Kumar, and calls for trailblazers to rethink and reimagine what’s next. As we conducted our initial market research, we learned that Gen Z values sustainability more highly than almost any other generation. That was an insight we were able to weave into product development and pull through into our marketing. Our awareness of the audience’s preferences allowed us to build our new ThinkPad Z Series laptops with vegan leather and recycled aluminum, responsible packaging and other bespoke innovations in an intentional way.

Similarly, in the context of Lenovo Legion gaming PCs, our market research showed us that gamers really wanted stylish devices with incredible power. These customers are parents, businesspeople and students who are using their PCs both to play games and stay productive at school or work. They needed one machine that could do it all. So, we differentiated by developing gaming systems with a sleek, polished exterior and powerful performance. The world doesn’t need to know you’re gaming when you take out a Lenovo Legion laptop in the classroom or boardroom. Data informed the way we built and marketed those products.

Mining For Insights

If you are just beginning to dip your toe into market research, a great place to start can be media organizations or your own company’s insights. Often you can glean insights about your customer’s decision journey or the role of personalization in the consideration phase through these easily accessible sources. As the third-party cookie disappears, your organization’s perspective on its customers and that individualized relationship with them is increasingly important. You can use data to help answer questions, like: How are you cultivating relationships with your customers? Where is the value exchange for your customers? How are you meeting your customers’ needs in a way that feels authentic?

In this increasingly digital world of ours, marketers now have the advantage of really understanding their customers. Nuanced adtech and martech stacks can help complete your digital tapestry of insights. It’s also fair to say that the role of data has become even more important as behaviors shift through the pandemic. We have good signals that indicate what’s to come, and we’re able to react very nimbly to those. All of that said, while marketing has become a fusion of science and art, it is still equally important to infuse a human touch—think about your customers and their privacy and be more respectful than ever of your engagements with them. Stay curious. Seek to understand and remember that, as the chief growth officer, you represent your customer.

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