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Big Data Should Be Neither Followed Or Ignored In Marketing

Marketing campaigns cannot rely on data, but the best should heavily use it

6Jul

The use of big data in marketing has been much discussed and the power that it possess in the area is undeniable. We have seen how the increased use of data has given marketers the ability to know who they are marketing to, when they will get the best response to their campaigns, and even what the best color call to action to use.

However, at the very core of marketing is creativity and the use of gut feeling to create something that people will like. The idea that data can repeat previous successes is true to some degree, but it will never be able to truly reinvigorate a brand perspective, instead data can be used to judge the success of your gut feelings.

Take Coca-Cola as a prime example. They had been seeing declining sales of their flagship drinks thanks to a more health-conscious society combined with a lack of innovation within marketing campaigns. In 2012, Australian executives in collaboration with Ogilvy began putting people's first names on the sides of their bottles and started the 'Share a Coke' campaign. It saw a 7% increase in sales in Australia and when implemented around the world drove a 2.5% increase in the amount of coke sold, with the entire soft drink market growing by 0.4% as a consequence.

This campaign is a prime example of a creativity-led, but data-informed campaign. The initial idea didn’t come through the analysis of data, but is hard to imagine that it would have been as successful without a significant degree of its influence.

Probably the most important use of data in the campaign was the name choice and regional variation. For instance, in the UK Coca-Cola used data from Experian to analyze the names of adults between 19-29, which were then weighted and ranked in order to ascertain the names printed on the drinks. This not only meant that there was always likely to be the name a customer was looking for, but also meant that there wouldn't be excess stock of specific names, as people were less likely to buy those with names of people they didn't know.

In this case, as with many others, data was not just the driving force - it was responsible for the initial idea itself. Data then helped to create a campaign that worked and allowed the company to identify how it had been successful. It was then used to help inform their next iteration of the campaign, which became a more inclusive and digitally engaged proposition that helped to gather even more data.

For instance, they began tracking social interaction through the hashtag #shareacoke and created a website allowing people to order specific names to be printed on the side of bottles. It also allowed the company to adopt less specific names and nicknames, for instance they began printing bottles with non-specific names like Mum, Dad, Mate and Friends, which helped to broaden the appeal of the products. This was all a result of feedback and data analysis from the initial campaign, which drew further success.

This campaign shows that the use of data within marketing is not the element that brings success, but more an aspect of the campaign that acts as a catalyst to success. Modern marketing campaigns do not always need to have a data-driven element, but the truth is that those that do not, stand a considerably slimmer chance of success. 

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