Know where to go, know what to do: plug into data and act on those inputs to maximize your marketing effort

I used to take flying lessons, many years ago. Although I never got my private pilot’s licence, learning how to master a light aircraft was some of the best fun I’ve ever had — and the concentration (for me, at any rate) was so intense that, during lessons, I forget everything else, leaving me with a brain cleansed of clutter.

Whether taking your first flight in a light aircraft, or your last after a career as a senior training captain with one of the world’s airlines, data are central to flying: you rely on the instruments around you to feed you with the data you need to make your next decision. Aircraft, after all, have always impressed with their dashboards. Sure, you can fly solely by the seat of your pants (even, in extremis, in an airliner): it’s just that you wouldn’t want to, given the option.

It’s obvious when flying that you need to know where you’re going. That starts with filing a flight plan and then, once airborne, looking out of the window (as one of my instructors once forcibly reminded me).

But you also need to know how much fuel you have left, whether or not the headwind is too strong to make your destination, whether your engine is icing up, what your alternative diversion airports might be as a consequence, whether storms are a risk (even if they weren’t when you started your journey) — and more. All this applies when learning, and applies big-time when you’re the captain of a Boeing or an Airbus with hundreds of passengers sitting behind you enjoying their in-flight catering.

The same applies in today’s marketing: no marketer today would follow the simplistic approach of filing a flight plan, taking off, and flying by looking out of the window. Yet many “land safely” without actually knowing that they would when they took off, and many fail to rely on the data they now have to hand to fine-tune their marketing, consider alternative destinations, or even pause until more data are available about what to do next.

Consider a recent example of one of our clients here at Digivizer: the client is a technology startup with a unique product offering in an otherwise established market sector that our client now seeks to disrupt. Being a startup, budget was tight, and quite literally every dollar had to count. The target audience was the general public, the messaging centred on creating new experiences, and the pricing proposition was compelling. Acting on our client’s behalf, we used our social media and digital analytics and tracking technology to see how the programme performed as it happened. We could analyse the performance of the web site, the social media outreach programmes, how individual pieces of content performed (or didn’t), the returns on paid campaigns in registrations, purchases and content viewing, and whether or not the programme should continue as originally planned. All viewed through a single set of data presented using our dashboard, to get the complete picture of how the journey was going. (When flying, you never want to switch between different instruments — that’s why modern jet aircraft present everything on single screens.)

Tapping the aviation analogy again, a storm hit, and we landed as a precaution, we reset our flight plan, and took off on a different route with (as it were) a tank full of fuel and a new set of coordinates.

Bringing this back to the marketing world, we understood, through data, the impacts of influencer advocacy, paid media advertising, content performance, and sentiment. By using the data to make decisions, we reduced touch-points to purchase by customers by 90%. We added new elements to the campaign, tested them in real-time, and confirmed how we could target prospects, who now responded because the content was now relevant because it was built on inputs from data. Sales grew 200% month-on-month, and that rate more than doubled to 500% in the last month.The result was that the client’s business objectives, on sales, costs and deadlines, were met.

Marketing, like flying, takes skill, training, determination and experience. Real-time data makes it faster, safer, more effective, more accountable, and more affordable.

Time to switch on those instruments.

This article is also published on LinkedIn.

Originally published at on October 30, 2017.