3 ways to make data marketing work for you

Canadian Tire, Google and Exchange Solutions share their insights

Last week’s Canadian Marketing Association Analytics conference brought together top thought leaders from Canada and the U.S. Representatives from Environics Analytics, Google, Tangerine and Canadian Tire discussed the power of analytics and ways to apply it. Here are a few of the take-homes.

Think in terms of “behaviour gaps”

Data not only lets marketers understand the behaviour of customers, helps them find gaps in desired behaviour. Brenda Higuchi of Toronto-based Exchange Solutions encouraged marketers to look for these “behaviour gaps” and give customers incentives to fill them.

Her team created a solution for Angie’s List, a subscription food and hospitality deals site. They analyzed four different behaviours for each subscriber: renewing subscriptions, writing reviews, referring new subscribers and buying items on the online store. If the algorithm found any gaps in a subscriber’s behaviour — if, say, they’d only written one review after six months on the site — the subscriber would receive a special deal tied to that activity (with the value of the reward tied to a complex calculation about the probability they would take action and the value of the behaviour).

Rather than spraying-and-praying coupon ads to try and boost sales, Exchange developed a solution that drove a wide range of conversion types without wasting a dime on customers who were already buying, or who probably weren’t going to.

Find metrics management cares about
It might seem like a no brainer, but management is not as interested in the nitty-gritty datapoints of your campaign. In fact, they may not see the point of analytics at all.

Sean Stokes, associate vice-president of customer analytics for Canadian Tire Corp. (CTC), knows what that’s like. He said that CTC’s top brass never used to care for analytics, which made it difficult to get the backing for big-picture data strategies like its Noma Christmas lights re-development project.

The key to convincing them was finding the metrics that they actually cared about. “I’ve seen a lot of times where analytics people create really cool reports, but nobody reads them, because it’s not based on data that’s important to the people making the decisions,” Stokes said.

“You need to think about how to produce some quick-win reporting for the marketing and merchandising team, and how to make sure you have pre- and post-campaign analysis or test-and-control so you can prove the analytics helped to make better decisions.”

Find your most profitable segment
Marketers are used to thinking about their target audience, the group of users that are most interested in their product or brand. But that might not be the same as their most profitable audience. Segment profitability relies on a variety of factors: how easy and inexpensive it is to reach them, which products and how often they buy, and their chances of being upsold or cross-sold.

Natasha Walji, head of Google Canada‘s CPG industry group, argued that with behavioural and purchase data, marketers can find that audience, and tie their messaging tactics directly to profitability, rather than proxy metrics like CPCs, purchase intent or even return on ad spend. She advocated tactics like obsessing over having your most profitable items front-page on your online store, and using algorithms to help you find the search behaviours of your most profitable segment. (Yes, it’s Google, so search was a big focus.)

“While cost-effeciency is super important, you can be highly cost-efficient but miss out on the big picture — which is profit maximization and sales,” she said. “You can have a great ROAS and great CPC, but leave so much money on the table.

“That’s really the challenge for all of us — to start pivoting those discussions to a value creation metric that’s on the radar of the c-suite. If we are talking in CPCs and cost metrics, that will forever be within the marketing department. But the minute we start talking about profit and sales, that’s when we unlock the c-suite.”

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