The Human Side Of Data: The Opportunities For Marketers
With a vast quantity of data at our fingertips, it's easy to lose sight of the real people behind that information. Columnist James Green explains why marketers need technology that can help them connect with individuals.
In a time when marketers want more audience segmentation and data is king, it can be easy to forget that our goal is to reach people — real people like me, who have their own shopping behaviors, interests and distinct preferences.
Over the past few years, every click, like, follow, search and purchase has been turning people into units to be targeted, tracked and acquired. In fact, some may argue that we’ve become so close to data and algorithms that we have stripped our information of the real people who give it meaning.
There’s an opportunity to change the perception of digital marketing from disruptive or intrusive into useful and relevant. It starts by delivering information that resonates with people in a purposeful and timely manner, and it means eliminating methods of pushing information out to the masses.
Reach More People, More Personally
When real-time automated buying was first introduced to us, we were sold on the idea of right person, right place, right time. This quickly became the new mantra, but it expressed a lofty goal and was often defined in different ways depending on the data set and technology used.
With years of real-time buying and data-driven marketing now under our belt, we have more insight into whether or not reaching this goal is truly possible.
To do this, you need to have a big and diverse enough data set to truly understand people’s interests, what they are looking for, and how and when they interact across channels and screens. The right data coupled with the right set of platform capabilities gets brands closer to personalization that can scale.
The scale and breadth of media and data are both essential parts to the right person, right time, right message equation. Technology that responds to shifts in a person’s behaviors in real time — when they’re on the Web, on your site, in their inbox or on any device — will make brands reach more people, more personally.
Use Data That Knows People
Data is infiltrating media and marketing and presenting new possibilities to relate and react to people. But all of this data and the sophisticated ways to capture it are causing information overload.
For marketers, this means there is too much data, which has made it hard to prioritize the right kind to use. And for people, this means that they are inundated with so many irrelevant offers that marketing has come to have little to no value.
It’s no secret that people hate meaningless advertising, spam emails and irrelevant recommendations. You need data that can help brands connect with people, not push them farther away.
Prioritizing search and purchase intent, past buying behaviors and device activity will help you understand the rich human perspective behind each action.
Don’t Treat People As Targets
Technology has become so sophisticated that it is bringing data to life. So much can be understood about your customers that they are changed from being customer 123 who bought product X to a real person who bought a black dress, likes gourmet cooking, purchased an international flight at a discounted price and has shopped for pet food — all within the last 24 hours.
In the digital age, every brand wants an algorithm for selling more, but a customer like me just wants a new pair of skis for my next winter vacation.
The ability to learn, predict and recommend products to people when they are in-market can improve their buying experience. We need to move beyond reacting to clicks and find ways to use data to relate to people.
If marketers can help me shop more efficiently for my next winter vacation and find the best-set skis at the best price, they can make my life a little better.