Data, and the personalisation it allows for, is increasingly touted as a sort of panacea for a brand’s marketing and advertising challenges and woes.
Yes, data is powerful. In fact, it has been said that data has surpassed oil in value. Be that as it may, data in its raw, unanalysed form is simply information; only once it is analysed, interpreted and applied, does it become meaningful.
As people become more aware of the value of their data and the importance of protecting it, brands will have to respond by being far smarter with customer information. So what does this mean for brands in practice?
Brands must have a strategy and a plan for data collection
In 2021 (and beyond), an organisation’s digital capability will be central to its ability to evolve with the market, to stay relevant and to keep adding value to customers in an increasingly competitive global market. And their data capability is central to that.
Leveraging the true value of data in a responsible way requires a data strategy and plan. It’s only when data is associated with business value, operational efficiency and client retention, that it will enjoy the essential priority and investment necessary to drive measurable returns.
This means having a data plan. That may well start with the collection of relevant data, but for ultimate success requires the what’s needed over and above that is the creation of an organisational culture that understands and values the importance of that data in driving the business’s objectives. Crucially, it also includes respecting and protecting customer data.
Applying the right kind of data, as with technology in general, has the potential to streamline operational efficiencies, and strengthen the quality of decisionmaking. When it comes to creative in marketing, and advertising in particular, data takes the guesswork out of the equation. Rather than speculating about what a client needs or wants, or relying on the creative director’s “intuition”, data provides measurable insights into actual customer behaviour and preferences.
Brands needs to be clever and thoughtful with customer data
As we’ve said, collectingdata is one thing. What brands do with it is an entirely different kettle of fish. At the most basic level, brands use data for personalisation and targeting. But the ones that really stand out are those that think about how the application of that data will benefit the customer.
Data is information about people. And with people spending more time online than ever before, brands and businesses can take advantage of this unique opportunity to gather valuable information that will help them connect with their customers in new, relevant and very exciting ways.
The creative capability includes ensuring that the data that is readily and abundantly available can be presented in an engaging and relevant format. Writing for Forbes, Brent Dykes, senior director of data strategy at Domo, says: “To form [these] data narratives, data storytellers will lean on their human creativity, empathy and contextual understanding in ways that can’t be easily replicated by technology.”
Brands need to be transparent and put the customer in control
As customers become more aware of the value of their data, the power will shift in their direction. With a mere click or swipe, they’re no longer trawling your brand’s website or social media channels, instead moving on to a competitor.
That’s why brands must go above and beyond regulations such as POPI to ensure customer data is protected, and that customers are aware of all the measures the brand has in place to protect their data. Brands also need to be transparent about what data they collect and why.
Brands need to be future-focused
Though it’s come a long way in the past decade, data as a central part of overall business strategy is still in its infancy. Brands that are data leaders take a future-focussed approach to business needs, anticipating the trends before they manifest, ensuring they are comfortable and up-to-date with the latest tools and technologies.
Brands that want to benefit from data understand the need to think laterally, to analyse and experiment beyond the brief while, crucially, acknowledging, that data without analysis, creativity and human input is useless.
Shaune Jordaan is the co-founder and CEO of Hoorah Digital, an independent digital consultancy that believes in brand results through data. The consultancy focuses on helping internal marketing and digital teams with all things digital, from social media advertising to app design.
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