Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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Marketers have possibly endured the most trying few months of their career: COVID 19 either set off panic buying or completely suppressed demand, lockdowns brought business activity to a grounding halt and supply chains were left disrupted. Most marketers had to deal with extreme uncertainty, which meant throwing out their existing marketing plans and pivoting to completely new digital strategies. CMOs found themselves prioritizing safety, brand strategy, hurriedly shifting marketing mixes and welcoming agile planning with open arms.

In times of uncertainty, scenario planning is of essence. And a crucial ingredient for effectively planning scenarios is data. Used right, it offers a doorway to current trends, avoids costly errors in decision making and aids in charting a way forward. Moreover, much like setting a cat amongst the pigeons, the pandemic brought forth an intense focus on measuring marketing’s impact. Trying circumstances often mean that the axe tends to fall on marketing budgets. Used wisely, data can act as your shield against this axe, making the case for being analytically driven stronger than ever before.

Let’s look at 5 ways how being a ‘analytically driven marketer’ will help in navigating the ‘coronial’ era:

1. Tracking & Responding to Changing Customer Preferences:

Marketers are seeing significant changes in consumer media habits – for example the sharp increase in consumption of online news, shifts toward remote learning and accelerated consumption of streaming services meant brands such as YouTube had to temporarily reduce video quality in March to reduce strain on internet networks.

Some of these habits will be temporary. Many others however, may reveal themselves to be long lasting. Analytics can play a central role not only in tracking consumer preferences and behaviors at increasingly granular levels, but also in enabling a rapid response to such opportunities or threats.

2. Personalization:

Thanks to COVID 19, customer journeys may have changed. Yet, every touch point throughout the journey still remains an opportunity to engage the customer. Marketers will need to use the new wave of information coming through Digital channels to better personalize messages and offers to ever-narrower customer segments. Adding Analytical firepower to your marketing stack can transform digital data into predictive, customer-focused insight. Using that insight to guide and shape real-time customer interactions, making contextual decisions in real time that result in highly personalized, relevant messages can set your brand apart.

3. 360 Attribution & Capturing Channel performance:

Consider the many ways that a customer encounters your brand – organic search results, display campaigns, virtual events, social media, content syndication, etc. One thing is for sure – consumer journeys are far from linear. They can occur across multiple platforms, devices and browsers. The problem is that organizations are often constrained to channel-limiting decisions regarding their media investment allocations. You need to be able to account for how customers move across inbound and outbound channels. Analytics applied in the area of marketing attribution helps you analyze the impact and quantify business value of marketing interactions across channels to help make the best marketing investment decisions.

4. Spending Marketing Dollars More Effectively

Marketers can use predictive analytics to project specific business goal completion based on the performance drivers and metrics of a current campaign. You can also identify the most significant underlying drivers of a particular business metric and present them in an easy-to-use business report. So, instead of axing marketing budgets, take a cleaver approach by selecting programs that may generate the least ROI. Having this sort of information at hand lends credibility to marketing and could go a long way in conversations with your friends in finance.

5. Gaining a 360-degree view of the customer:

Ultimately, data captured by marketing analytical suites isn’t about pages and clicks; it’s about people – everything they see and do, and everywhere they go. The best ones capture the complete online behavior of customers at a detailed level and can marry it with existing offline customer data sources – e.g., promotional, demographic and purchase-based information – to provide a complete picture of the customer. By combining these typically disparate data sources into a unified view of the customer, you’ll gain valuable insight into a customer’s needs.

Remember, while it might be a difficult time for marketers and brands, the customer out there is as demanding as ever. They have dual expectations of businesses: Understand me as an individual and protect my privacy, and yet, treat me differently basis where I am and who I am. That’s possible only if you have a 360-degree view.

Marketing has always been an art and a science. We will need to think hard—and differently—about how the consumer in this new era will think, feel and act. Clearly, harnessing our imagination & creativity, is the need of the day. That’s the ‘art’ we marketers are known for. But given the unprecedented nature of the pandemic and the profound changes it is causing; analytics may just be the science that marketers can rely on to ensure our customer relationships outlast the virus.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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