Unlocking the Power of Data for the Health of Your Brand: Verve Q&A

The Drum caught up with Julie Bernard, CMO at Verve, and Verve’s vice president of insights and data, Tim Gough on how marketers can use the full potential of consumer data.

A powerful way to evaluate a brands health is to act quickly upon the insights that derive from customer data says Verve’s chief marketing officer, Julie Bernard. Marketers need to empower themselves to act quickly without the many coatings of “bureaucratic reviews and approvals.”

The Drum caught up with Bernard and Verve’s vice president of insights and data, Tim Gough on how marketers can use the full potential of consumer data, why chief marketing officers need to continue to support the consumer and how big data has revolutionized linear TV and out of home advertising.

Earlier this year Accenture Research came out with a study that said the majority of global business leaders say the most important factor in customer experience is ensuring their staff has access to customer data. Additionally, 59% of companies that use business analytics say it gives them a competitive advantage. But despite such promising numbers, a whopping 88% of marketers aren’t using data to its full potential. Why do you think that is?

Julie Bernard, chief executive officer, Verve: We talk with marketers about these questions, and we recently published a report that shows 84% of them found aligning customer data with corporate systems is more challenging than first assumed (and so, that tracks with the research you’re citing). We’ve learned that a majority are still working to ‘sell-in’ the need for critical consumer data. There are skill set gaps, and there can be legacy technologies in play. It is time to liberate the data and democratize the insights, by enabling people across the entire marketing, and even broader business spectrum, to have access to key, focused customer metrics.

And not just access, they also need to be empowered to act upon the insights that they derive from the data, to act quickly and without multiple layers of bureaucratic reviews and approvals. That’s a powerful way to evaluate brand health.

What should be the role of the management team in businesses when it comes to driving the use of marketing analytics?

JB: This goes to the heart of how companies transform — and are already transforming — their management identities.

The chief marketing officer needs to maintain their role as advocate for the consumer, and they need to highlight consumer metrics in executive-team discussions. The analytics they call upon should include lifetime value metrics, frequency of shopping visit in online and physical stores, and various loyalty indicators — these serve as brand-health indicators. It’s critical, in all these approaches, to also partner with the chief finance officer, aligning on metrics before execution, before tests even, so that the CFO and the CMO are in lock-step on what they are actually trying to achieve.

In your experience, for those doing data well — have marketers started to find new innovation avenues by using big data?

Tim Gough : Big data has generally been used to drive efficiencies in marketing plans, and to have more confidence in the channels they are maintaining. This can be an alternative to opening new innovative ‘avenues’ for communicating with customers.

Another interesting trend is what’s happening to traditional marketing channels, which are now being powered by big data. It’s completely changing how they are planned, bought, and measured — using learnings from established digital channels like online display, mobile, e-mail, etc. I’m talking mainly about OTT — well, I’m thinking about targeted TV advertising overall — and digital out of home. Linear TV and out of home advertising have been around for decades, but it’s only now that data is revolutionizing each approach.

The trends I’m seeing include more granular targeting, less waste, and higher accountability to drive outcomes. Big data makes all that possible, and as a result you’re seeing a shift in how those media are bought.

Give us one of your favourite examples of how maths and science can help marketing excel and enable to get through to customers?

TG: Look at the explosive growth of DTC companies. By disrupting industries that were not able to own the customer relationship, they have been able to collect data that only a direct consumer relationship can bring. This has led to much more informed insights into who their customers are and, perhaps more importantly, how the brand found them and how it engaged them and inspired them. They have then optimized and deployed that data to unbelievable effect across the digital marketing landscape, and now beyond. Yes, they have strong, customer-focused brand propositions and attractive branding, but to me the biggest driver of DTC success is the ability to learn who likes your brand and who is buying your brand.

Using that insight and data to find the very best prospects across the rest of the ecosystem, brands can now target consumers in the most efficient way across the most effective channels. Measurement and performance, and therefore optimization, is built into every step of the process.

For traditional brands that do not have direct consumer relationships at scale, the call is clear: advertisers absolutely must augment the data they hold on known customers with as many additional data sources as possible. Mobile is a huge part of that equation; that’s where the richest and most advantageous data awaits.

This article first appeared at The Drum.

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