Building marketing strategy based on data and emotion means breaking through the noise

As we head into peak 2014 planning season, numerous digital marketing priorities will emerge. However, there is one that is quickly becoming the most important, as customers continue to drive a transformation across business. The amount of personalization possible is endless, and companies need to change traditional marketing practices to optimize the digital marketing opportunity. 

Consider the following: The Direct Marketing Association in 2011 reported that for every dollar a marketer invests in email, the return on investment is approximately $40. 

Both sides now 

Social media provides an additional avenue to collect and analyze customer data to build comprehensive customer profiles that truly reflect preferences, lifestyle and personality. The data in these profiles is extremely actionable and can drive relevant communications, personalized experiences and custom offers that increase engagement. However, it is important to remember both sides of the consumer psyche. 

Consider this quotation from Daniel Pink in Booz & Company’s article “How to Design a Winning Company”: 

“I’ve since come to realize that empathy is related to understanding someone’s emotional state or feelings, whereas perspective taking is much more cognitive and analytical — it’s understanding someone’s interests. I think interests are the key word here. The facts say that both perspective taking and empathy can enhance your understanding of someone else, but if you have to go with one, go with the analytical. I think the evidence says very clearly that people are able, especially in negotiation and sales situations, to reach a better deal for both sides when they’re focused on interests.” 

The quote points to one thing in the marketing world — responsible marketing — which is the one tenet that should be universal for all marketing agencies, technology firms and consultants. 

Responsible marketing is our ability to leverage the massive amount of customer data to create a personalized experience for each individual customer. The value isn’t just from the marketing message itself; it’s from the intelligence and optimization in each that builds a 1-to-1 ongoing relationship with each customer that scales across the enterprise, builds brand loyalty and drives sales. 

Personalization and using it

Traditional marketing has been about finding and utilizing empathy. You can watch any episode of AMC’s “Mad Men” to understand the beautiful and creative relationship between advertising and consumer empathy. In order to be creative, Don Draper, the lead character in “Mad Men,” had to understand the emotional drivers of the customer or at least give a good guess. 

However, the world has changed. Personalization is becoming a central part to any marketing process. Empathy is only one part of the equation, and it is becoming smaller as technology advances. Do we have to understand the emotional state of a consumer? Of course. 

Do we have to understand past sales data and behavior to truly relate? Absolutely. 

Daniel Pink is right when he suggests that truly understanding someone’s interests is the essence of effective selling (and marketing). We must build strategy based on data and personalization to reach today’s hyperconnected, on-the-go consumer. 

Kyle Lacy is senior manager, content marketing and research for ExactTarget. He is the author of Twitter Marketing for Dummies, Social CRM for Dummies, and Branding Yourself. For information, go to