Ginger Conlon, editor-in-chief of Direct Marketing News sat down with us to talk about her thoughts on data-driven marketing and what the future yields for marketing as a whole.

Data Driven Marketing

Data-driven marketing is not a new thing. According to Ginger, “All marketing is direct—because it is all based on data.” It’s how marketers harness the data to break through the clutter that sets them apart. It all breaks down to role-based marketing, where sending the right info the right people is crucial, and transforming that into actionable insight. But you already knew that.

What stands to evolve in 2014 is how marketers are moving from “talk” to “action.” As marketers, we are entrusted as basic analysts. Our data must start to enhance the creative we produce. Terms like “Big Data” that were buzz words in 2013 will shift towards gleaning pertinent info from the “Little Data” that we already have. The first step marketers nationwide will embrace in the coming years isn’t collecting the data, but knowing what data to look at. Sure, mobile usage is on the upswing, and smart devices are transforming the way we live, and the data that we produce, but what good is it if we don’t structure it, and capture the RIGHT data?

Truly useful data will reveal customers’ behaviors and preferences, and will enhance marketers’ understanding of the customer. This includes the relevant content that provides data about customers’ interests and where they are in their life cycle or buyer’s journey. Data can not only help determine what existing content you produce, but will also actually be a driver of what new content marketers produce in 2014, leading to more “micro-marketing” to have pinpoint accuracy in guiding the customer journey and decision cycle. Considerations like the customer’s digital body language on your website and tracking interests and content consumption over time will dictate whether follow up includes a blog, a whitepaper, or a personal roundtable with a group of high interest prospects.

More than marketing automation

This is more than just marketing automation (although 2014 will see a larger implementation and refinement of these processes), and is advancing towards a consistent, seamless experience across channels. The trends from past years are still developing, but are moving at different speeds, developing into a virtuous cycle of customer centricity. The more you know about your customer, the better you can market to them. The more relevant your marketing is, the more you can learn about your customer. Everybody wins.

In the meantime, marketers not only need to produce great content to engage customers, but also need to better educate themselves to harness data. Attend vendor and industry conferences, read publications (shameless plug for Direct Marketing News), attend webinars and learn what skills are necessary to better harness data. It will make you a better marketer for 2014 and beyond.

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