Lately, the industry conversation around data-driven marketing has gotten stuck. Too much of the conversation is focused on applying data to advertising — activating your data to push out and target messages. Activating your data is well and good, but that’s only one small piece of the picture.

The data that resides in your data management platform (DMP) is good for a lot more than targeting ads. With the right DMP marketers today can know so much more about their customers. Applying this knowledge across the business can drive not just smarter marketing decisions, but smarter business decisions and, ultimately, competitive advantage.

Centralized data combined with sophisticated analytics capabilities can provide powerful insights useful for many areas of a business; here we’ll take a closer look at just a few of those opportunities – budget allocation, brick and mortar merchandising strategy, and messaging strategy.

Budget allocation

Marketing teams work hard to be as efficient as possible in order to hit their key performance indicators (KPIs) in every different initiative — direct mail, TV buys, social media, premium inventory buys, ad networks, and search to name a few.

The analogy I like to use is of a race car. Imagine the car represents your marketing goals: you want to get it around the track as efficiently and quickly as possible to beat the competition. As soon as it stops in the pit, the crew teams swarm to work. Each person has a very specific task — one removes the back tire, another puts a new one on, a third tightens the lug nuts.

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Each team is optimizing their particular job very well but has no awareness as to what the other teams are doing. This is oftentimes what happens in marketing departments today with siloed data within channels and results that are difficult to understand holistically.

Now imagine that pit crew had the insight to realize that if they took a bit of air out of the front left tire and added more to the back right tire, the car would be more efficient going around the track. Centralizing your marketing data in a DMP enables the analysis of performance metrics across channels to optimize budget allocations in the most efficient way possible.

For example, it may be that relinquishing some display budget and investing that in search and social may make the overall marketing budget more effective. Centralizing your data helps you be as efficient as possible not just in your ad targeting but in your overall optimal budget allocation.

Brick and mortar merchandising strategy

One of the main benefits of a DMP is the insights about your audience revealed through deep analysis of data. You know your customers better than anyone — but there may be characteristics about them that even you don’t know. Most marketers understand that the insights revealed with a DMP can help you target ads against these new audience traits to expand your reach — but have you thought about how this might extend into the offline world? Applying the insights to your merchandising strategy can drive incremental sales and revenue.

For example, we worked with a national paper products manufacturer to combine the fact-based data they had on their customers with attitudinal data from surveys and rich 3rd party data from more than 40 vendors. This data, centralized into consumer profiles was able to produce a rich picture of brand loyalists. The analysis revealed that consumers that were very brand loyal indexed highly as pet owners.

Using this insight, the brand worked with a national pet supply retailer to set up merchandise displays in the checkout aisles in select stores. Ultimately, they saw a positive return on that investment and rolled out the idea nationally – a successful merchandising strategy revision based on DMP insights.

Marketing messaging strategy

Data-driven audience insights can help inform how to target ads, certainly — but the insights can come into play even earlier, in helping to inform the marketing messaging itself. A major car manufacturer recently was planning campaigns for two different models in their line, an SUV and a car.  While they had a general understanding of the different types of people each model appealed to, an analysis of 1st party loyalty data and 3rd party data revealed some very specific insights. Some were intuitive, such as the car owners tended to be younger and the SUV owners tended to have kids. There were also some key learnings that were less obvious.

Buyers for the car were three times more likely to own an Android phone, while buyers for their SUV were more likely than other groups to own a pair of skis. The manufacturer took these insights and changed their marketing strategy, from brochures to ad creative. They started showing the SUV in the context of winter sports as opposed to summer activities and instead of emphasizing iPhone integrations – which had previously been a focus – they highlighted BlueTooth capabilities.

You have the data – put it to use!

The technologies and platforms available today provide marketers with incredible tools for understanding who their customers are, how they are engaging with their brands and products, and how they behave beyond the scope of the brand interaction. These insights can drive efficient and targeted advertising, but the value of this data-driven knowledge extends far beyond the realm of media buys and ad delivery. U

ltimately this consumer insight data can and should be used to make better business decisions. Data can be applied everywhere – are you getting the most out of yours?

Matt Westover is General Manager, Audience Suite and DataMine Analytics, at Turn, the marketing software and analytics platform.