Tiffani Allen

Data-Driven Marketing from Mad Men to Rabbit Holes

Tiffani Allen     Online Marketing


Last week, the Business Marketing Association of Minnesota hosted an educational panel event: From Mad Men Advertising to Rabbit Hole Marketing. The panel consisted of four B2B marketing and data experts and was moderated by the brilliant Rebecca Ramsden of SmartBase Solutions. The panel included Patrick Dunn, director of sales and marketing for GetWireless; Mike Bernard, VP of services at Relationship 1; Jason McConnell, director of marketing communication for Sport Ngin; and Bob Peterson, research director for SiriusDecisions.

The audience was packed with the best and brightest local B2B marketers. You could feel the energy and excitement in the room — which may have been partially augmented by free bacon and coffee, I’ll admit — as the group found their seats and prepared to join the discussion. After all, the concept of using data to inform, improve, and explain marketing efforts has been a popular topic in digital marketing for as long as we’ve had the technology to collect it.  Thanks to the panel of experts, I’ve compiled some key takeaways that can apply to the everyday lives of digital marketers.

To Get a Seat At the Revenue Table, Bring Insights, Not Data

Digital marketers and inundated with data. We collect it, mine for it, pull it into dashboards, and generally obsess over it. But if you’re trying to get C-suite buy-in for a new program, or trying to justify the budget you already have, you need to leave that deep dive data at your desk. Leadership within an organization is interested in understanding the return on their investment, not the specific numbers you’ll monitor to find out.

The panelists agreed: While it’s important to prove ROI to those who will ultimately make budgeting decisions, there’s much more to it. A good marketer comes to the table with the ability to discuss ROI and how their efforts will grow that return in the future using predictive data.

Understand the Why and How Before The What

The panel wholeheartedly agreed with each other on this key point. Many organizations get excited over new marketing technology and platforms and end up making purchasing decisions and trying to implement before they understand if they have the resources to continue to use it effectively. What’s worse, is that some organizations fail to clearly identify the problem they’re trying to solve before they invest in a solution.

The key takeaway: Marketers need to fully understand how they’ll use a new technology and what problem they’re trying to solve  before they make any buying decisions. Once they know what they need, it’s imperative to have the right resources to successfully implement and manage that program.

Know Why You’re Collecting Data Before You Start

Data can drive marketing results in ways that were previously unheard of. We’ve seen organizations that use data to truly know their consumer make huge waves in the marketing community. What do those organizations have in common? They understand why they’re collecting the data that they have, and what it will tell them. Knowing the key metrics you need to move the needle, and being disciplined enough to focus on them, is what will make a difference and show significant results.

The consensus: Collecting data is important, but it needs to be done ethically and in a way that makes sense. If you don’t know how you will use the data, or what data you need to collect to solve your problem, get back to your whiteboard and make sure you nail that down!

Know Your Customer, and Respect Their Inbox

The panel suggested several ways to get to know your customer better. Namely, ask them how they want to engage with you and respect those preferences. This can be done by collecting relevant data, or simply asking them outright, depending on your relationship and business model. One panelist suggested going back to the old standard, hosting focus groups! That may be a little Don Draper-esque for this digital marketer, but the idea behind it is right on.

What’s the big idea? It’s imperative that marketers always tie their data back to a human. Data points don’t buy products, people do. Ultimately, knowing your customer and understanding their needs will win the day.

Needless to say, this event was packed full of great insights from marketers who really understand the impact that data has on all facets of marketing — from getting top level buy-in to managing relationships and everything in between. My fellow attendees seemed to be equally as impressed as I was.

Want to see more of the conversation? Check out my story on Storify!

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