I had the opportunity to attend The Ad Club’s Data Dive event last week at Hill Holiday, featuring an outstanding panel of marketing experts from Kraft Analytics, Gupta Media, Trilia Media and TripAdvisor. Each expert had his or her own unique perspective on big data and how communications professionals can use it to achieve their goals. Here are three of the key points I took away from the event:

Data is invaluable to strategy creation

Too often, strategy development or campaign planning begins before looking at available data that should be used to inform it. Data is extremely important to ensure effective results. For example, Jessica Gulman, CEO of Kraft Analytics Group, uses data from Patriots season ticket holders to build a marketing campaign. Data found that after four missed games, the likelihood of renewing season tickets dropped by 25 percent. So, Kraft Analytics developed customized content and messaging to hit users after the first, second and third missed games, ultimately working to prevent the user from missing that fourth missed game. Data should be used to inform the way we interact with our target audiences, in all forms of communication.

Retargeting & A/B tests are key

There is a time and place for retargeting, but for TripAdvisor, it is key. Paul Mahoney, Director, Online Marketing at TripAdvisor, explained the importance of using data to inform its retargeting efforts. He cited pages a user visited, past online history with TripAdvisor, and place in the purchasing process as key data points that they use to decide which content should go to which audiences. He also stressed the importance of A/B testing everything, explaining that sometimes it’s the smallest details that can make a big difference. However, there are also times you should take users who have already visited your website or consumed your product out of your strategy. For example, Gogi Gupta, Founder of Gupta Media, presented the “Donut Strategy:” Taking the middle of your target audience out to ensure meaningful results. In this case? Ticket sales for the Governor’s Ball. Gupta Media didn’t want to target people who had been before, so it took out the users who were already interested, making it possible to reach new customers, increasing ticket sales from the year before.

Data is beginning to impact every aspect of strategic communications

One thing all panelists agreed on was data’s all-encompassing role in strategic communications. While it is known to inform optimization and reporting efforts, it should be a part of everything we do as communications and marketing professionals. From the very first stages of strategy development to the final wrap up report, we should be thinking about data and how it can make our efforts more effective.

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