Data-Driven Creative: Know Your Customers, Create Accordingly

Written on
Feb 7, 2013 
Catherine Gluckstein  |

Before the days of online selling, there was the Mom-and-Pop corner store. If you were a smart proprietor, you knew your customers, their buying habits, their likes, their dislikes, etc. Based on that knowledge, you knew what products to introduce to your customers, how to entice them to buy, how to close the sale and even how to fulfill their needs in the future with a possible up-sell in it for you.

Today’s online entrepreneurs can learn from their brick-and-mortar forebears and apply the same strategies using technology tools. What’s more, today’s tools can also help test creative content, measure feedback from that content, and ideally help re-shape messaging for further refinement and effectiveness.

With the advent of Big Data, some argue that creative now takes a back seat to analytics. But the new reality should be about how data can inform creative and help refine it so it is more effective than ever. The two do not exist in mutually exclusive realms. Rather, using both data and creative to their optimum potential can result in economies never before possible.

How can online marketers use data to optimize their creative? Again, they can take cues from their old-school shopkeepers and, using analytics, first learn all they can about their customers: When do they shop? What day of the week? What time of day? What do they buy? How much do they spend, and when?

Knowing these facts, creative can then be shaped with appropriate messaging that strongly resonates with the customer, and prompts him to act. For example, if we learn through analytics that a great majority of returning customers shop on Wednesdays and spend an average of $40, then we know that creatively promoting products, or groups of products, that cost around $40 on Wednesdays could positively affect sales. What’s more, if further analysis tells us that such a promotion yields success earlier in the day rather than later, we know our messaging must shift accordingly to address that newly-discovered customer behavior.

Today’s analytics and data can also help us evaluate which actual media are most effective for our business. For example, we might develop a promotional message that is conveyed via both social media and email. If analytics tell us that more of our customers arrive at our site directly from social media, and when they do arrive their average purchases are higher, we also know that our marketing dollars are most effectively spent in that channel. Data like that also gives us an idea of what the customer looks like demographically, and what frame of mind that customer might be in when they arrive. Thus, we can tailor our creative with that valuable information in mind.

No longer does our marketing creative have to be based on hunches or “creative for creative’s sake.” Used in the right way, data can go a long way in providing a useful framework for visualizing opportunities, prioritizing them and maximizing them through creative. The fact that smart analysis of data continues to work for us throughout the marketing cycle – by providing us with feedback about our marketing efforts that we can then further refine – is icing on the cake.

Catherine is currently President of SumAll, a new SaaS, venture-backed start up with the mission of making big data accessible to all.

Prior to that, she was Vice President, Corporate Development at iStockphoto, responsible for developing international markets, driving corporate strategy as well as the $50m acquisition of iStockphoto in February 2006. She also led Getty Images’ joint venture with Time Inc. to launch LIFE.com, and served as a board member and CFO.

Catherine brings over fifteen years of media experience. Previously, she was the Vice President of Audiobooks for Barnes & Noble/BN.com, and joined Reuters in London as an International Management Trainee before progressing through various international marketing and strategy roles. Catherine started her career as a broadcast journalist working for the BBC and Reuters Television. She holds an MBA degree from London Business School and Columbia Business School.
Catherine currently resides in Seattle with her husband and two children.

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