What's ahead for data marketing in 2013?

Next year will be a crucial watershed in determining the success or failure of brands’ strategies for using data. The test will be whether they can combine the things they know about customers’ routes to making a purchase.


At Marketing Week, we recently held a day of judging for our Data Strategy Awards, the winners of which will be announced in London on 7 February 2013. The results must remain under wraps until then, but what I can tell you is that the day offered an unparallelled opportunity to hear from the awards judges - some of the leading lights in data-driven marketing - what their predictions are for 2013.

Their opinions were by no means uniform, but a couple of themes cropped up repeatedly. One was getting a grip on the data generated by social media and the other was combining online data with offline. In both cases our judges’ ultimate objectives were essentially the same: to get a more complete picture of how consumers see and experience their brands.

These twin concerns are really two sides of the same coin. It is truer now than ever before - and will be more so next year - that consumers’ interactions with brands take place across numerous platforms, many of which are digital media that are just reaching a tipping point into truly mainstream usage. It is therefore more important than ever for businesses to understand where and when their presence is welcomed by consumers.

To give a few very suggestive statistics, a majority of UK consumers now own smartphones, while half the UK population use Facebook regularly. Add in the forecast that the proportion of Christmas purchases made online in 2012 is expected to nudge 50 per cent, and it becomes obvious that brands need a strategy to ensure consumers can learn about and access their services at the times most convenient to them.

The mobile internet, social media and ecommerce are clearly not new, but 2012 has been a year of critical mass for many digital media channels. Brands haven’t quite kept up when it comes to meeting consumers at the critical points of their journeys from site to site, platform to platform. Next year, many more will, and disciplines such as programmatic buying and retargeting of online ads are going to be important tools with which to do it.

Businesses can’t afford to be left behind as their competitors push to become smarter and more targeted in their communications. But neither can they even start thinking about targeted ad strategies or sales attribution models without first appreciating how their data streams combine to map out the journeys customers make, both online and offline.

Brands that have it need to understand how to overlay data from social media, cookie tracking and proprietary databases with geographical and demographic segmentations in order to work out the most effective ways to talk to consumers. That’s not to say that all brands need all this information, or that they should go hunting for more data at the price of becoming intrusive, but it is an assertion that if you need one thing next year, it’s a data strategy.

Is your work with data worthy of industry recognition? If so, you should be entering the data-driven marketing category at Marketing Week’s Engage Awards 2013.

Click here to submit your entry before 15 January 2013.

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