Creating a Sustainable Digital Marketing with Mindful Use of Data

Many strategists think that almost is enough. Instead of solving the relevancy challenge, they are hoping to reach the most people by spending more, communicating more, and marketing more. But spending more is not a prerequisite for gaining more.

Attila Tóth

Digital Strategist

They say advertisement is The Evil itself. But how bad is it really?

For decades, the idea that "Advertisement is evil" has been a hot topic. But living in a consumer society means that the presence of ads in our lives is unquestionable. So instead of simply scratching the surface and looking at advertising like it's the villain from the action movies, let's get into the more profound questions.

Let's see how good ads can add value to the customer and benefit the business as well.

The other day I realised I needed a new set of tyres. I am a customer of Michelin Tyres: I have a 19-inch rim and use 250/35 tyres, so I Googled 19 inch 250/35 tyres. After looking at the offers, I often give myself some time to think – so I closed the browser. Later, when I opened Instagram, I saw a tyre ad.

Although it may seem smart, it wasn't – by far. Why? Because when I clicked on the ad, I found out that neither the size nor the brand was relevant to me.

The company that buys ads on Instagram just lost some of their money because I clicked on an ad that turned out useless to me. Moreover, they lost brand value because, in my mind, I tagged them as a brand that doesn’t really care. I didn’t do that consciously, it all happened instantly in a glimpse of a service. They thought they were wise to use remarketing data. But without the right type of granularity and the right type of data, that’s not enough. On the contrary, it only enhances the noise that's pretty loud already.

Their ad was almost relevant. And that's a problem.

Many strategists think that almost is enough. Instead of solving the relevancy challenge, they are hoping to reach the most people by spending more, communicating more, and marketing more. But where does it end?

More, and more is not an intelligent marketing strategy for companies to stay in the game. Neither on the business nor on the human side. We don't want to see more and more ads.

What we want to see instead are more relevant ads. I would happily share my data related to my interests, hobbies, preferred movie genres, writers, and so on to receive relevant offers. As for me, my hobby is cycling; I would be more than content if, instead of searching for a new pair of bicycle shoes, the ad would find me with the preferred brand in my size. It would save me a lot of time, which is most valuable to me. But today, it’s more likely that I will see a football shoe ad, as most companies don’t know how to use data in a new way. The current way makes advertising evil. But there is a better way.

I certainly think the number of relevant ads should be maximised. Both from a marketer’s and a user’s point of view. Because it can be.

To understand the nature of relevant ads, we need to take a closer look at the environment in which they are born, raised and sent to college. Joking aside: we need to understand the environment we have at our disposal where our ads perform.

Digital advertising had a massive year in 2021.

What do these numbers show? Besides how tech corporations became richer? It shows that people, brands, and companies spent more money on digital ads than ever before. Because the pressure on these companies and marketers is enormous, they are stepping on each other to keep up with the pace, to follow this fast train. Most of them use the "spray and pray technique": shooting out all their marketing arrows at once, the broadest possible, till the sky becomes dark. They have the illusion that spending more is a prerequisite for gaining more.

What isn’t visible, though, is that the return on ad spend is decreasing across multiple industries. Meaning: brands spend more and earn less. They communicate more and engage less. There is noise without result. Pollution instead of growth.

So how can your brand get out of this rat race AND find alternatives to those advertising mammoths that keep raising the bar like there is no tomorrow?

For example, through mindful data centralisation. In other words, collecting as much relevant information on our potential customers as needed.

You can start doing this by creating digital personas and hyper-personalising your marketing content.

I noticed that many marketers underestimate or even deprecate the value of customer personas and user personas. And they argue that personalisation is not efficient, third-party data is useless, and targeting individual buyers cannot be accurate enough. They presume that the one-size-fits-most approach, disregarding data, and inclining to impersonalised content is the way to be effective.

But we are on the other side of the fence. We believe relevancy is the driver that gets us closer to our audience. The more detailed picture we have of our personas’ character, the better we can serve them with valuable and nonetheless converting content.

This is one of the reasons we are here today: to focus on the type of data that can make a difference in our decisions and the relationships we maintain with the customers. Because it all comes down to how well you understand your buyer personas and reach them in a reasonable way. And the ultimate advantage is that relevancy builds trust and loyalty within the target audience.

The legacy we want to establish with our view on data centralisation

As you can see, the numbers don’t lie. We are living in the age of more and more, and slowly, it’s costing us more than we’d like to admit. This cannot be accepted. We can build a better future, a better legacy.

We have to step out from our current perspective and look at data from a customer perspective. More and more will people realise that relevancy is critical and will have the willingness to voluntarily share relevant information about themselves in order to receive relevant content.

Sounds idealistic? With blockchain technology, it’s not far-fetched at all.

It starts with a decentralised technology-driven, secure vault of data that contains relevant information about customers. Each of us could add to this vault the kind of data we choose to share and can also decide who to share it with. Think of it as your digital identity, consisting of data on your reading preferences, food allergies, clothing style, sports activities, the places you would like to see, and the list goes on.

By sharing this information with the appropriate providers or brands, they would be able to get their carefully selected offers directly to you. Not sprayed all over the world, but addressed to you specifically. This is how I would get my new bicycle touring shoes or my new tyres.

But that’s the future. First, we should jump into what you can do today. Let’s get back to the business perspective.

I assume that you don’t have blockchain technology expertise, and neither you have someone in your team with such knowledge. So, I want to give you a strategic roadmap that you can start working on right away.

Step 1: Whether you work in a B2B or B2C business, there is already a very simple datapoint that you can expand on, and this is: email. You need to prioritise this datapoint strategically. This ties into

Step 2: Take a good look at your digital marketing processes and try to identify the touchpoints where data is (or can be easily) generated but not yet explored. For example, you are doing a webinar, and at the sign-up phase, you gather a few pieces of information, such as email addresses, position, country, industry, etc. Afterwards, a follow-up email calls out for further engagement of your participants, potential customers. Identify all opportunities where besides the email data, you already capture other information or you have the opportunity to capture more than you currently do. You will realise that you have more data collection possibilities than you imagined. And this ties into 

Step 3: Instead of leaving these data out to dry, and to be scattered in different places, you will need to centralise it. There are different tools to do this, what I personally recommend is an Email Management Engine that helps you automatise your data collection around emails.

Step 4: Use the captured data to fuel your campaigns to make your targeting, messaging, and timing relevant. (if you are not familiar with retargeting technologies, just let me know), again if you follow my recommendation and use an Email Management Engine, then you can automatically identify behaviour patterns related and generate actionable intelligence for your marketing activities.

Step 5: Measure & enrich. Measure relevancy performance and be continuously on the lookout for how to add more relevant data to your engine.

In case you need help placing this roadmap into your business strategy, let me know, and we’ll help you make sense of the data you have while creating the value you want to make in the world.

As digital leaders, it is our job to find sustainable ways of making our mark on the industry. It should be our mission to use data for the betterment of marketing and advertising, and not letting it be labeled as “evil”. In fact, it can be our confidant if we keep in mind our responsibility to make a clutter-free and trustworthy digital environment. And hopefully, this entry has given you the inspiration to take on this challenge.

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