Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Why research must be at the heart of marketing

by Umar Akhtar, Chief Marketing Officer, Qudo  

It’s clear that marketing is ingrained into our everyday lives. From social media campaigns to billboards and TV advertising, nothing is untouched by it. The industry moves, it seems, at the speed of light. For that reason, it’s crucial that marketers make their advertising meaningful so they can ensure it resonates with their audience.

Personalisation is a very important tool in the arsenal of marketers to achieve meaningful advertising. Consumers want adverts that show products, solutions and services they are interested in. However, personalised marketing can’t truly succeed without data as it leaves you guessing about what your audience wants to see. Data is key to transforming marketing and creating ads that mean something to the end reader. In an increasingly digital world, it’s more important than ever that consumers feel the information being served is right for them – without data, that becomes exponentially harder.

Zero-party data, originally coined by Forrester to mean “that which a customer intentionally and proactively shares with a brand”, gives marketers an advantage over only third- and first-party data collected using cookies and other similar mechanisms. These other data types, such as third-party cookies and first-party data, can give marketers some insight into consumer habits, but they often lack relevance for a specific campaign. In other words, zero-party data gives you the ‘why’ while first- and third-party data only give you the what, where and when. 

In the words of the Merovingian from The Matrix: “Why is the only real source of power. Without it, you are powerless”.

Navigating the web of consumer psychology

Like marketing, advertising is everywhere. Consumers today see thousands of ads each day – as they scroll through social media, watch TV or even as they read the newspaper. Marketers need to cut through the noise and make an impact in an already highly saturated space. Marketing campaigns and projects need to have greater sentiment and meaning behind them if they are to make an impact. 

Data-driven marketing is key to making advertising more meaningful and ensuring it has an impact on consumers. Marketing powered by data enables marketers and their teams to understand their audience at a more granular level. Without it, how can you know what your consumers are searching for, what their likes and dislikes are, or what they want? Without knowing this, how can we expect audiences to care?

Uncertainty is the enemy of effective marketing, and with 87% of marketers admitting that data is their organisation’s most underutilised asset, it’s crucial that it is analysed and used effectively. Marketers are constantly looking for data and insight, but often don’t know the difference between good and bad data. This leads to them using whatever they can get their hands on, which oftentimes can be as bad having no data at all.

Personalised marketing is crucial in attracting customers. If a campaign doesn’t target the right audience at the right time, it’s likely that it won’t deliver great results. To customise campaigns, messaging and other marketing collateral, marketers need to have access to consumer data. They need to know what customers are thinking in order to shape their marketing strategy. 

How can marketers make better use of data? 

1. There’s no such thing as too much insight 

To be successful and generate revenue, marketers should aim to collect as much consumer insight as possible. The figures speak for themselves: companies that use data-driven campaigns deliver five to eight times the ROI on marketing spend. Data must guide a campaign to ensure that it is targeted, and that time, money, and resources aren’t wasted.  

2. Understand why: zero-party data  

There are a number of ways to use data to power campaigns, but the most crucial aspect is what type of data is used. As third-party cookies are phased out due to privacy concerns, and first-party data doesn’t deliver the precise insights needed to create appropriately personalised and compelling campaigns, zero-party data is the missing piece of the puzzle.  

Zero-party data guarantees that consumers have fully consented to the use of their data, and thanks to anonymisation, companies cannot track habits outside of the survey. This type of data, as opposed to first- or third-party, yields better and more insightful information about an individual’s habits. Zero-party data means marketing teams are equipped with different and unique perspectives that they can use to tailor campaigns and stand out from the crowd.  

3. Not all data is created equal

While so much data is available online, not all of it is usable, accurate or relevant. Zero-party data gives marketers intimate confidence in the data being collected. Most importantly, it also allows them to ask the exact questions needed in order to get to the most important answers.

As the marketing and advertising sector continues to grow, marketers must seriously consider how data can power campaigns. Data is a must-have, not a nice-to-have, and zero-party data gives marketers a treasure trove of consumer insights, allowing marketing teams to strike gold with their campaigns.