Data-Driven Strategies Are Integral

Recently, Rob Banner cited the confluence of marketing technology and advertising technology, aka MadTech, as possibly the most important space in business today as it has the potential to disrupt whole markets via the successful deployment of the right tools and strategies — tools and strategies driven by data.

As email marketers, data-driven strategies are integral to everything we do. So much, in fact, that the term can ring as a bit of cliché. Email has always been a technology-enabled medium and a data-enabled medium. One could argue that, historically, that was the distinction between marketing and advertising; marketing was behavior or data-driven, and advertising was not. Increasingly, we see these worlds merging around data as customer experience, and customer perception, shape sales. Brand loyalty becomes determined by a company’s ability to truly understand their customers’ wants and needs, and act on those insights. In this new reality, everything is data driven and the distinction and division between marketing and advertising disappear.

Consumers today have wildly different expectations than previous generations, as we all well know. People look at a company and they see one company — a brand — and they expect their interactions with that brand to be ubiquitous across departments. They expect companies to get rid of their silos and communicate effectively as one entity, and not make them do the leg work of figuring out which part of the company they’re talking to. They want a seamless experience every time with every channel. At the same time, we’re living in an era of warranted privacy concerns and the emergence of standards such GDPR, which in all likelihood will be followed by the rollout of similar standards around the globe. This brings us to somewhat of a crossroads in which people want personalized content and tailored offers that are relevant to them — and not ones that are irrelevant — yet, they don’t want companies to have so much data and insight about them that it feels Orwellian. As these expectations run counter to one another, what emerges as a key business driver is trust. If a consumer trusts a company, a brand, to use their data with integrity, they’re not only open to hyper-personalized experiences, but they expect them as a brand loyalist.  

We have far more data today than ever before, and we have tools to manipulate that data. The present challenge lies in separating the wheat from the chaff and presenting the data in ways that are useful and meaningful for marketers so they can create content that is useful and meaningful for their customers, and build the trust that will solidify their brands.

All Insights Are Not Created Equal

A recent study by More Stephens and WARC indicated that the biggest increase in martech spending last year was in analytics and measurement. One contributing factor to this increase is the technology investment required to ensure a company is able to get the kind of specific reporting that drives value for their business. Because every company’s needs and data are different, vendor solutions must be carefully tailored to meet those needs. This tailoring takes time, effort and expertise. With vendor solutions changing at such a rapid pace, it’s extremely challenging for companies to keep up. Often, organizations lack the necessary resources in-house or underestimate the deep technicality of the problems.

Email marketing managers at companies today typically have two sources of reporting: email  service provider (ESP) dashboards, which are almost uniformly focused around campaign metrics and only allow them to see the world through the lens of campaigns and deployments. Or, internal marketing analytics, which are generally too slow and too generic for email marketers. By the time the data is collated, cleaned, sorted and presented, it’s often weeks old. In addition, marketing dashboards are usually created to look at metrics across marketing. Because of this, email marketers can’t drill down in detail to what’s going on with their specific programs because it’s all been lumped into one big box. This is a huge challenge for email marketers tasked with maximizing their data for uniquely tailored content that drives engagement.

Over the past 18 months, Trendline Interactive has put a lot of investment into getting our clients reporting that meets their specific email marketing needs. We’ve found that what email marketers want and need to know is less about campaigns and deployments and much more about customer behavior – and they want this data in near to real-time. How much of the list is engaged? How many are not engaged?  How many users disengaged? When did they become disengaged? What caused them to become disengaged and what helps us bring them back? What’s the lifecycle here and what should we be changing?

At Trendline Interactive, we’ve built an infrastructure that exceeds our clients’ expectations and enables us to efficiently tackle large-scale analytics problems. We can ingest and report on the largest of email programs and provide deep insights and analytics. We’re able to show data that is less than 24 hours behind – so not quite real time but much closer than what our clients have elsewhere. Our infrastructure also allows us to leverage data from multiple ESPs and present it in a way that’s holistic and consistent. We’re able to offer our clients powerful reporting dashboards straight off the bat, but beyond that we’re able to customize the tool with client-specific reporting, without the significant investment normally required in such customization. By ensuring our clients have access to meaningful and nuanced metrics about user behavior, we help them answer substantive marketing questions that get to the heart of what’s working, what’s not, and why. These insights ensure our clients can continually optimize their program performance to better target and segment communications for enhanced customer experiences and increased ROI.  

Next-Level Email Marketing

To keep pace with the increasing demands of their customers, organizations must evolve their email marketing programs alongside the technologies they work with. To stay competitive, companies today must have a strategy to fully leverage sophisticated automation, segmentation, and dynamic content capabilities at scale. They need to maximize their data for uniquely tailored content that drives engagement, maximize deliverability to ensure that uniquely tailored content actually reaches their subscribers, and grow their subscriber base with an informed acquisition strategy that builds brand loyalists.

Yet, the reality is that most organizations lack the necessary resources and expertise to truly take their email marketing to the next level. As a channel, email is often underestimated in its complexity and sophistication. But the truth of the matter is that to do it well is difficult. Trendline is helping  clients leverage data to create increasingly relevant campaigns and messages that delight subscribers in a way that not only respects their privacy, but builds trust and brand longevity.

In a complex world of data-driven solutions, Trendline Interactive helps companies transform their email marketing programs and ensure they remain the cornerstone of their digital marketing efforts. Send us a message to talk about how we can help your email marketing program.

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Derek Harding

Chief Technology Officer