Lyris Connections Blog

Data-Driven Digital Marketing – A Relay Team of Top Notch Marketers and Technology

Feb 22, 2013 by

My colleague Deb Papp wrote a blog called “Serendipity, Segmentation, and the Softer Side of Big Data” which cleverly summarizes what we all know to be true. While data efficiently delivers real-time insight, human instinct ultimately adds the magic to messaging that connects with the audiences. So while the industry is inundated with articles about big data technology and promises of total marketing automation, data-driven marketing has boundaries and necessitates human intervention. 

business relayI often create analogies between sports and business – as both have common elements for success such as strategy, discipline, execution, and coordination.  Today’s analogy is one between digital marketing and relay racing team. The factors for “winning” are shared.

  • Have the right team: Simply having the fastest athletes could guarantee a win.  In marketing, it’s about having the right marketing team, technology, and support to be elevated to the next level of digital marketing excellence.
  • Place your most sensible racer in the first leg. In swim relays, the first racer carries the heavy responsibility to not scratch and also to get a quick start. In marketing, your most “sensible” team member is one that is able to conduct the right research about your market, customer needs, product strategy, and customer digital behavior to devise the right “start” for every campaign. While there is a promise for total automation (i.e. predictive analytics) to achieve this, the current reality is that this still requires human insights in combination with big data and meaningful analytics.
  • Ensure consistency and reliability in the second and third legs. In relays, the most reliable and consistent racers are generally assigned to the second and third legs of the race. While not necessarily the fastest, these racers provide a level of unwavering dedication and almost mechanical performance that guarantees consistency and bridges the starter with the anchor. In marketing, these could be the technology you use to automate messages. The data you use must be accurate, complete, and updated in real time – providing triggers that represent the real-time context of your audience and sending relevant messages based on a set of pre-defined logic (dynamic content). Of course the initial orchestration of automation must be done by a human – an equivalent to a coach.
  • Finish strong to win. The most popular and most celebrated athlete of the race is the anchor (e.g. Michael Phelps), who fairly or not, is often heralded as the hero – and for many good reasons. Anchors generally have killer instincts for how to adjust their tactics according to a moment’s situation – the ability to access the performance of their team and that of the competitor in an instance and adjust their approach accordingly. This again is the role of the best digital marketers, where they assess the testing results, conversion patterns, click-stream behavior and so on to determine the best course of action to maximize value to their digital marketing campaigns; for example, being agile and adjusting marketing campaigns to react to inventory levels, social network interests, Web browser behavioral patterns, and other key information that provides the insight to “nuances” about the target market that puts a brand above the competition. How does a marketer gain this “killer instinct?” It’s not through traditional “persona studies.” In the new age of digital marketing, it’s about having all of the input in real time and gaining a true reflection of a customer’s context and potential behavior. Integrated data and analytics can certainly help drive this insight. 

In summary, the new age of digital marketing is not about human vs. technology but about creating the top-performing team to bring home the win – or winning your customers’ hearts, minds, and share-of-wallet. 


Angie Zener

About the Author: Angie Zener

Angie Zener is Senior Director of Corporate and Product Marketing at Lyris. She is a long-time marketer and an enthusiast of all emerging marketing technologies, in particular those that help marketers better connect with customers. Angie has managed customer communities, led social media teams, built mobile solutions, and launched many new software products. Follow Angie on Twitter: @angiezener

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