What does a day in the life of an ad agency look like? In Don Draper’s Mad Men world, it involved creative brainstorming and, yes, a lot of smoking and drinking at the office. Much has changed since the 1960s. With the exponential increase in digital data, today’s agencies are faced with a Big Data dilemma.
In addition to their creative roles, agencies – and modern marketers – are acquiring customer data from multiple sources: Internal and external data, data from their CRM systems and social media chatter. They’re mining partner, supplier, public and commercial data to get a more accurate and single view of the customer. And they are looking at something Gartner defines as “dark data” -- the data gathered from blogs, texts, clickstreams, speech, location and context. All of this adds up to equal mind-blowing amounts of data. But when agencies – and marketers alike – focus on the growing availability of that data and not just the sheer magnitude, several opportunities rise to the surface.
At a recent conference with some of the leading advertising agencies in New York, I heard a few areas where these companies need to put this Big Data to work in order to:
- Enhance the customer experience
- Segment customers
- Automate campaign reports
Enhance the customer experience
Some of the ad agencies at the event lamented about the manual processes and the data challenges that have slowed them down in the past. With the tremendous growth of data, many of them are stuck using outdated products to mine, sort and optimize lists and datasets. But the old programs are quickly being replaced by modern technology that allows them to address online and offline customer challenges such as historical data, CRM data, enrichment data and current session data. The knowledge gained from this influx of data also helps marketers build an individual behavior record over time. At the end of the day, the phrase “It’s all about the customer,” means companies must act faster and smarter to make and keep connections.
The next logical step in modernization is taking the new ways of consuming this Big Data and applying it to current and potential customers. Television might show brainstorming for the perfect mass-media campaign as the only activity done by ad agencies. But today’s agencies need to be multi-faceted and show they are true partners with their clients for a variety of marketing activities, including customer segmentation.
With decreased budgets and resources, the answer isn’t to increase the amount of campaigns, but rather make them more effective. This can be achieved by better targeting the customers within a campaign. Because all prospects aren’t created equal, they will respond differently to your outreach -- some will respond to email, others will respond to a digital advertising and you might have some that will only respond to an in-person meeting. Understanding how to connect with your targets is critical.
If email marketing is your campaign vehicle of choice, don’t just blast a single email with a gated offer to all of your existing customers. It’s much more effective to send a series of targeted emails -- such as a lead nurturing campaign -- with unique content for each segment. Measure success by clicks and conversions, and make changes based on those results.
Automate campaign reports
The third challenge facing agencies today is automating campaign reports for clients. The ideal here is to use a comprehensive marketing automation solution, but no matter the approach a key starting point is to focus on data quality and data integration. Both are important because data must be pulled, integrated and cleansed from many different sources – many of them big data sources. For maximum usefulness, the reports need to be consumable by clients.
Again, technology can play an important role here. Finding a solution that is powerful enough to extract data from virtually unlimited sources but is also robust enough to analyze what is contained in the data is a must. With the SAS Data Management solution you can access your data no matter where it’s stored. That data is then prepared for reporting and distribution using SAS BI reporting solutions. The real benefit comes in automating the entire process from beginning to end.
How to channel Don Draper with data
Even if you aren’t pitching a national media campaign to Montgomery Ward in a smoke-filled room, like Don Draper might, or to Target in a modern, glass-walled conference room, seeing the opportunities that come from the availability of big data can be a powerful asset.
Pair the data with cutting-edge technology that lets you mine social media data to quickly determine the most important topics for a client’s brand. Use ad hoc exploration and visualizations to quickly identify key brand associations. Score sentiment by topic to understand exactly why customers love or hate your brand. Produce clear evidence why the client should choose your recommended marketing strategy. Once you do this, you’ll be well on your way to making a mark on Madison Avenue.
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