In a competitive market, publishers' marketing strategies need to be refined in order to have a chance of engaging their target audience. Given that media and marketing is now more user-centric and personalised than ever, it’s no surprise that audience data is the key to staying ahead of the pack. The dawn of data-driven marketing coincides with a palpable shift from ‘a linear acquisition and retention model to a relationship model’, which centers on the reader.
Publishers are in a fortunate position to be able to harvest rich information from within their own eco-system. This first-party data is a high-value business asset if leveraged properly. With 7 out of 10 leading marketers relying on data to support decision making at all levels, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that data-driven marketing is the way forward. Especially since the use of data correlates directly to ROI. This article walks publishers through 6 tips on how to effectively implement a data-driven marketing strategy.
Why data should be at the heart of a publisher’s marketing strategy
Data-driven marketing draws on key audience data to optimise, refine, and improve communications with potential customers. There are many reasons to put data at the heart of your marketing strategy:
Gain a better understanding of your audience
Publishers can leverage their unfettered access to first-party data to gain a comprehensive understanding of their existing readership, using this to better understand their target or potential audience. By harnessing their customer information, publishers will be able to accurately predict their needs, wants and, most crucially, future behaviours. This should aid publishers in capturing the attention of lookalike users who are not yet customers.
In addition, empowered with in-depth audience understanding, publishers are able to create better tailored subscription packages and refine their users’ experiences to ensure maximum customer retention.
Convert unknown to known audiences
Converting unknown users into known audiences is an important objective for marketers. However, historically it has proven to be a ‘black box’, a process that can be tracked externally without proper understanding of the mechanisms that are successfully moving anonymous visitors to registration. The right data and insights can unlock the true value of this unknown audience, allowing publishers to create ‘lookalike models’ and track key behaviours that can feed progressive profiling. The result: clearer, more effective conversion journeys.
Deploy customised marketing
Given that 72% of surveyed consumers said that they would only engage with personalised messaging, the importance of a customised marketing strategy is clear. The key to delivering relevant messaging is knowing what is relevant to who. Using first-party data, publishers can ‘push appropriate content, tailoring subscription-marketing messages more appropriately for individual readers.’
Indeed, personalised marketing strategies are key to attaining high-levels of ROI, ensuring publishers draw maximum value out of their marketing spend with engaging and audience-specific messaging.
Reap higher ROI
The granular and focused approach that data-driven marketing facilitates creates a higher ‘hit-rate’, thus giving publishers higher ROI than traditional marketing methods. Personalised messaging and audience segmentation, combined with a strong knowledge about which channels are the most effective for promotion mean publishers can aim with precision rather than shooting in the dark. Further, granular user data means that publishers can directly target audience interests and answer specific and personal pain-points.
How to effectively use data for marketing
1. Learn from current mistakes
Before overhauling your data marketing strategy, it’s important that publishers assess their current situation. This involves looking holistically at the kind of data that is already being collected, how it is being used, as well as weighing up the relative strengths and weaknesses of your current approach. By understanding what is not quite going right, it will be easier to develop an effective strategy moving forward.
2. Build a more robust strategy
Once publishers understand their current situation and needs, it’s time to craft a robust and comprehensive data capture and marketing strategy. This includes addressing the collection, storage, and use of audience data. It is absolutely critical that publishers ensure they are collecting the right kind of data that is of high enough quality to support their marketing efforts effectively. Though this is, of course, highly subjective, developing a robust data collection strategy involves identifying what data a publisher needs to fuel their specific marketing approach.
3. Ensure the quality of your data & collection method
Though quantity is undoubtedly important when it comes to data collection, so is quality. Hence why precision marketing is really ‘only as a good as the data behind it.’ Knowing the right information can make or break publishers’ marketing strategy and facilitate precision targeting that can make a huge difference. An awareness of what constitutes as useful data is important. Publishers must avoid vanity metrics such total page views that, though outwardly positive, are essentially meaningless without context, since they might not effectively contribute to decisions that build revenue.
In the same vein, publishers need to include their readership in the data collection process, ensuring they have a fully informed understanding of the value transaction on offer. This is especially important as the regulations governing data compliance and privacy get more stringent, and as the phase-out of third-party cookies gets underway.
4. Segment your audience
Audience segmentation is a crucial strategy to ensure publishers capitalise on the data they collect. By dividing their readership into ‘more specific, targetable valuable groups’, publishers will be able to draw more value out of their audience. In terms of marketing, the most significant divide exists between known and unknown audiences. Employing tools such as intelligent registration or paywalls, publishers can quickly move unknown users into the ‘known’ category throughout the subscription journey.
Segmentation not only tells you about different interests, but about where an audience member is in their subscription journey. For instance, a brand new user will be receptive to very different types of messaging compared to a loyal and long-term subscriber. With this awareness, publishers will be able to ensure they direct efforts to upsell, for example, only to those that are likely to be open to it.
5. Invest in the right software
Data driven marketing is powered by specialist software and technology. For example, using intelligent paywalls and registration tools to capture high-value first-party data can help publishers to capture unknown users.
Automations can help to drive effective ‘rule-based targeting that delivers key objectives like registration, subscriptions, or lead generation’ whilst still ensuring critical GDPR and/or CCPA compliance throughout.
6. Use data to drive personalisation
Once publishers have refined their data capture and collection strategies, they must activate this invaluable user information to specifically and accurately target users and maximise conversions. This step from collecting key data to actioning it is what will ultimately make the difference for publishers’ businesses.
Using first-party data, publishers can boost customer acquisition through lookalike modeling, for example. Equipped with a deep understanding of their existing readership, publishers will be able to appeal to new customers who have a similar profile, safe in the knowledge that they know exactly what these consumers are looking for.
Data isn’t just about understanding the consumer themselves, but also about learning what type of marketing works and when. As Deloitte points out in their Data Driven Marketing report, data is the key to giving marketers ‘deep demographic, psychographic and behaviourial insights that enable marketers to understand how their customers make decisions…’. Thus, with this granular understanding of how their target audience behaves and reacts to certain messaging, publishers can ensure they put their marketing where it matters.
Looking to the future
There’s no denying that first-party data is set to define the future of digital publishing and marketing. As third-party data is phased out, it is of utmost importance for publishers to set themselves up for success by shifting their reliance to the invaluable first-party data available to them within their own eco-systems.
When publishers are ready to harness the full potential of their first-party data, they can look to roll-out robust and well thought-through data collection strategies that harvest the information they need to power powerful marketing and customer acquisition campaigns that meet the demands of today’s climate.