The concept that data has the ability to completely transform a business is widely accepted in our industry. Often the greatest challenge faced by marketers is the how, rather than the why. Despite this, there is some research I discovered recently that is pivotal, in my opinion, to any marketing team. It demonstrates the importance of data for marketers, which sounds obvious. And yet, I think it’s a point that can be forgotten. Every marketing decision should stem from an intricate understanding of the audience. The only way to factually comprehend who you’re communicating with is by gathering and analysing data effectively.  

The first piece of research I refer to exposes the disparity between who marketers think their audience is and who their audience actually is, demonstrating the importance of data itself. The research was conducted by Think TV in Australia. Very simply, they asked marketers and consumers about their daily use of social channels. These were the results:

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There’s nothing unusual about these findings. As marketers, we aren’t expected to be our audience. And yet, there was a third question Think TV asked the group of marketers that highlighted the issue. The question was what the marketers believed consumers’ usage of social was. The marketers assumed that the following percentage of consumers used channels daily:

·        Twitter: 63% (+50%)

·        Snapchat: 76% (+51%)

·        Instagram: 89% (+56%)

·        Facebook: 100% (+21%)

Let’s compare that to actual consumer usage:

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For a social media manager, can you imagine the horror when you realise less than half of your audience use the platforms you’ve been investing in every day? It’s a certain way to skew predicted campaign results or forecasted ROI.

The findings reiterate the point that experience, gut feeling, or previous knowledge can’t replace accurate consumer data. It’s so important as marketers that we learn from our audience and continually appraise their attitudes, beliefs and behaviours, whether that be in the form of analysing customer journeys, social listening, conducting surveys or speaking with consumers.

A further study by Capgemini highlighted the same point from a different perspective. They ran a study to identify how customer-centric consumers believed companies were, versus the companies’ perception of how customer-centric they were. They spoke to 125 companies and 3372 people from all over the world. The results, as you may expect, showed that consumers generally did not believe companies were customer-centric, whilst the companies thought they were.

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Possibly the most staggering results came from splitting the data by nation. In Germany, 80% of companies thought they were customer-centric and only 50% of customers agreed. In France, 70% of companies thought they were customer-centric, yet 0% of customers backed this statement. Worst of all, here in the UK, 92% of companies believed they were customer-centric with only 15% of consumers also believing that was the case. That stat alone should be enough to make any marketer stop in their tracks. How could the organisations be so delusional to the perception of consumers? Likely, because they hadn’t bothered to ask them. An additional data set that I would’ve like Capgemini to pull was, when did the organisations last conduct market research?

Again, evidence shows us that as marketers we cannot assume we know our customers. We must befriend data; it should form the basis of all our decisions. Our purpose at Yard is to help brands make sense of data, whether that’s in terms of onsite behaviour, search visibility, customer lifetime value or journey trigger points.

So next time there is a decision to be made, ask yourself – what would the data have you do?  

Rona Leslie