While I consider myself one of the most data-driven people in the gaming industry, I understand that quantitative data alone is not the optimal input for decision making. Combining analytics with qualitative data can often improve your decisions. You can think of it as a basic mathematic equation, if X is data and Y is qualitative information (ie. personal past experience), by definition X+Y will be equal or greater than X alone. An article by Bain & Co., one of the world’s leading consultancies, The Math, The Magic and the Customer shows how great marketers go beyond the data.
As the article points out, marketing departments now spend more on technology than IT departments. We have great tools not only to measure every marketing campaign, but each creative in the campaign, each channel we use and how each creative interacts with each customer in each channel. Often, however, we rely on this information without looking holistically at the customer or realizing that customers will not always behave consistently (or rationally). People make decisions emotionally as well as logically and as the article says, “great marketers have always known this, which is why they work hard to build an emotional bond with the customers they are targeting. They tell compelling stories about their brands through memorable messages and indelible images. At its best, this kind of marketing pops and dazzles, like magic. Marketing that ignores the magic and relies on math and science alone will be marketing that doesn’t work.”
Data and forging emotional connections are not mutually exclusive. Great marketers do not rely on just one. They use the myriad of data to create a holistic view of the customer and customer journey. The marketing is customer-centric rather than tool centric, all of the data and analysis comes down to what will be most effective in the future with the customer (not what the cohort did in the past). And as Bain writes, “contrary to the inclination of many marketers, moreover, they do not put measurement of ROI at the top of their agenda. When they can’t measure the ROI of an innovative effort, they are willing to let instinct guide their efforts—at least for a while.”
There are three keys to using data and the holistic view of the customer effectively. By combining a single view of the customer, understanding and tapping into their emotions and testing relentlessly you can replicate what is working for the most successful companies.
Paint a holistic picture of the customer
Most companies, not only online ones, have gigabytes of data about their customers. Data includes preferences, locations, device types, when and where they interact, purchase decision process, where they are browsing, what else they are doing online, etc. You can even see where your customers are and what they are doing at an exact time; you can interact on a real time basis. The information also comes from multiple sources and is stored in different locations.
The key to successful marketing is putting this data together for a single, real time, view of the customer. To achieve this goal companies must come together and the marketing team, IT team, analytics team — even finance — must all work together to share data and build systems to create a plan to build this complete view. Then the company needs to create a single customer record, where all of the information is held. While it sounds easy, this process can take years but in the interim data should be streaming into marketing so it can start looking at the customer holistically.
People are not algorithms or cells on a spreadsheet, not only is it immoral to treat them that way it is not good marketing. By understanding your customers’ journey, you can then tailor the experience to elicit the appropriate emotions at the right time. If it is a gambling game (either real money or virtual chips), provide excitement after a big win or help calm them down after a bad beat. By understanding your customers and potential customers emotions and encouraging the right one at the right time, you can make them more likely to choose and enjoy your product.
Stay nimble and be bold
You need to test many different approaches, as eliciting emotion is not easy. The important part of testing is learning from the results. Reinforce what is working and discard what is not, even if you were the advocate of the sub-optimal variant. Then think of new methods and promotions that will build on what you have learned and create even better results.
Moving forward you are not CFO
With the reliance on metrics and ROI in marketing, the marketing department is quietly becoming a mirror of finance. While metrics and ROI are critical to long-term success, so is generating emotions from your customers and potential customers. To become a truly great marketer, you need to understand how to connect to your customer as well as reading your daily dashboard.
- While data and ROI is critical to successful marketing, adding qualitative measures makes your marketing more effective as it is effectively additional data.
- A key to successful marketing is generating the right emotion at the right time from your customer or potential customer, as emotions drive people, not data.
- Continue testing different approaches and techniques, discarding what does not work and building off of what does work.