As a marketer, you would be facing a lot of choices. Which marketing software/platform/marketing channels will be effective? What text/HTML what e-mail works better? Which marketing strategy to look at data-driven marketing or creativity-driven marketing?
In recent times, you could be contemplating on the strategy more data-driven or creativity-driven ones? Conversations on how to approach the marketing have been around even before the recent data explosion. Now that both data and creativity are in plenty – it is vital to have this conversation.
What do you mean by data-driven marketing?
Data-driven marketing is the strategy of using customer information for optimal and targeted media buying and creative messaging.
When data drives your effort, there is a lot more clarity – who is your target audience? What kind of audience is your product/service offering right now? Is there a gap? How does your customer base react to your marketing? What demographics are you engaging with frequently?
The analytics would answer these questions, effectively understanding your audience in-depth. It can be the starting-point of highly customized consumer interaction. With the nitty-gritty of marketing campaigns and sensitivity to sales figures mapped out, identification of trends and patterns made easy. This data-driven marketing has made the decision process easy.
New ideas and out-of-the-box thinking are the core of creativity-driven marketing. Here comes the tricky part – while some creative ideas are widely successful, there is a risk that others might not.
Picking on the lines of trying to be different, being creativity-driven has everything to do divergent thinking. Unsurprisingly, it is most often the creative ideas that set trends, become viral etc. Creativity-driven ideas often form cultures and can be adopted at various stages. For example, the popular story on how a toothpaste company increased sales by just widening the toothpaste hole is a classic example of the extent of creativity-driven marketing.
Which works best?
Understanding data-driven marketing and creativity-driven marketing is essential for any organization. Navigating data-driven marketing is similar to looking at the rear-view mirror while driving - it looks at past experiences. On the other hand, creativity-driven marketing is forward-looking. While data can identify and understand patterns - it is the fresh thinking that helps to make an impact - either by breaking them or by value-adding to them.
Let’s take an example of a restaurant which has a steady crowd from teenagers, with 80% occupancy during peak hours. To drive the occupancy rate to 100%, the marketing team can offer discounts, go green, or promote their sustainable practices to make them attractive to the same demographic.
Specific campaigns can attract customers during non-peak hours too. If they want to attract the parents of these teenagers, an alternative idea can be thought about too. In all these instances, there is data. This data is crucial to understand and plan for specific courses of action. Creativity helps to break-in to new possibilities of thinking. More importantly, during adverse thinking, we have seen creative ideas that can turn business around.
Data-driven marketing can become repetitive. Marketers would want to play safe or leverage the potential by re-running a previously successful campaign. They can support it with hard-code numbers and success story. One such obvious trend is when an e-commerce website announcing sales at set intervals of the year, and almost all e-commerce websites does this. It has almost become a habit of the business as well as the customers.
Adam Morgan, the executive creative director of Adobe, in his blog, points out how marketing can leverage habits. The biology behind this choice gives insight on how to go about the marketing strategy. The brain performs an action based on memories. Emotions are important to make these memories remembered. When the association is strong, one form lasting memory that directly impacts a sale. Through this discussion, one can conclude that approaches to marketing must be both creative and driven with data.