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Data-driven marketing is the focus of a podcast episode featuring Drew May, the Director of Growth at Acorns. In this episode, May discusses the importance of using data to drive marketing strategies and make informed decisions. He emphasizes the need for marketers to collect and analyze data to understand customer behavior and preferences. May also highlights the significance of using data to personalize marketing campaigns and improve customer experiences. He shares insights on how data-driven marketing can help businesses optimize their marketing efforts and drive growth. Overall, this podcast episode provides valuable insights into the world of data-driven marketing and its impact on business success.
Key Take Aways
8 Key Takeaways for Digital Marketers from “Data-Driven Marketing” by Drew May:
- Importance of Data: Data is the foundation of successful digital marketing strategies. It helps marketers understand their audience, track performance, and make informed decisions.
- Customer Segmentation: By analyzing data, marketers can segment their audience based on demographics, behavior, and preferences. This allows for personalized and targeted marketing campaigns.
- Testing and Optimization: Data-driven marketing emphasizes the importance of continuous testing and optimization. Marketers should experiment with different strategies, analyze the results, and make necessary adjustments to improve performance.
- ROI Measurement: Data-driven marketing enables marketers to measure the return on investment (ROI) of their campaigns accurately. This helps in identifying the most effective marketing channels and optimizing budget allocation.
- Predictive Analytics: Utilizing data, marketers can leverage predictive analytics to forecast future trends, customer behavior, and campaign outcomes. This allows for proactive decision-making and staying ahead of the competition.
- Automation and AI: Data-driven marketing encourages the use of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) tools to streamline processes, improve efficiency, and deliver personalized experiences at scale.
- Cross-Channel Integration: Marketers should integrate data from various channels, such as social media, email marketing, and website analytics, to gain a holistic view of their audience and optimize marketing efforts accordingly.
- Privacy and Compliance: With the increasing focus on data privacy, digital marketers must prioritize compliance with regulations like GDPR and CCPA. Collecting and using data ethically builds trust with customers and avoids legal issues.
Drew May:– A lot of marketing and advertising messages today get caught up in a kind of a sea of sameness, a lot of things sound very similar, they sound the same. I think the more that brands strive to develop a two-way dialogue with their customers, I think those will be the brands that win. You know, meeting the customers where they are and really trying to build that relationship, I think will be very important long term for marketers.
Shelly Singh: –Welcome to The Growth Genius series brought to you by DMAAsia and Infidigit. My name is Shelly and I’m your host. Today our guest speaker is Drew May. Drew serves as chief client officer at Wiland, the leading provider of audiences and data for the world’s best marketers. As part of the executive team, May drives customer satisfaction by leveraging Wiland’s solutions and capabilities to solve top client challenges. Additionally he oversees the creation and execution of vertical go-to-market strategies. Prior to his current role, May served as chief client officer for Acxiom. With more than 25 years of experience, May’s expertise has helped brands use data-driven marketing solutions and technologies to deliver exceptional business results. A very warm welcome, Drew.
Drew: – Thanks, Shelly, it’s great to be here. Thank you for having me.
Shelly: – Great. So to start with, please tell our listeners about your professional experience and how you developed your interest in data-driven marketing?
Drew: – Sure. I’d be glad to do that, it’s really interesting. It’s actually a little bit of happenstance. I went to college in central Arkansas and there was a little company called CCX Network that was based out of Conway, Arkansas. I knew that they did a little bit of work with computers and marketers and I’d heard this term direct marketing and things like that and had the opportunity to join CCX straight out of college. A few years later it became Acxiom Corporation and really learned about the world of direct marketing and a lot of the folks that really were the first data driven marketers, or not first, but the kind of the modern generation of folks who were doing data driven marketing. And that’s how I got introduced to this world and I’ve been, you know, in it for 30 years now and really enjoyed the opportunity to work with the brands that I’ve worked with, learn more about solutions. When I started in the business, the internet didn’t exist and so now that the internet’s around and we’ve got digital advertising and email and all of the things that are happening with mobile devices and smartphones, now it really is a very dynamic marketing environment. And so it’s been very interesting to see how it’s evolved and also see some of the challenges that have remained too and some of the folks that are really trying to understand return on their marketing investment and their advertising spend and things like that. Those challenges have remained, but I know there’s a lot of folks working on getting those solved, but I’ve been in the business for 30 years and continue to be fascinated by it.
Shelly: – Very interesting and thanks for sharing. So we’ll start with the challenges. So what’s the single greatest challenge to current data-driven marketing practices?
Drew: – Well, I think, Shelly, I would give you two answers to that, there’s a short-term challenge, then I think there’s a longer-term challenge. The short-term challenge that a lot of the marketers are dealing with is really around a lot of the state level privacy legislation that’s being enacted. You know, there are a lot of States who have moved to enact their own level of legislation around how data is collected, how marketers can use it, some aspects tie to data brokers, I think California and Virginia have established Data Broker Registries where companies have to sign up and basically say what they’re doing with information that’s collected in those States. So it’s become very challenging for those marketers to adhere to all those state level legislative regulations. There are going to be more of them, that’s also something that we see out there on the landscape and so I think short term that’s really created a lot of challenge for them to ensure that they adhere to all the various States different iterations of their privacy legislation and once again I think that’s going to continue.
Long term I think the other thing that’s going to be important for brands is how do they differentiate themselves. A lot of marketing and advertising messages today get caught up in a kind of a sea of sameness. A lot of things sound very similar, they sound the same and so figuring out how your brand can stand out and how you can truly work to build the relationship with your customer is gonna be very, very important. I think some of the things that brands sometimes or marketers fall into is they think they should do more, more email, more direct mail, more digital advertising and that may or may not be the right answer. I think the more that brands strive to develop a two-way dialogue with their customers, I think those will be the brands that win and also those that meet them where they are, meaning if they’re on their mobile device, if they’re on the internet, if they happen to be interacting with television advertising, things like that. But, you know, meeting the customers where they are and really trying to build that relationship I think will be very important long term for marketers to ensure that they stand out from other brands who are also trying to offer a similar product or service.
Shelly: – That’s great. So today’s customer is very smart. They know how to turn off thousands of marketing messages, and they are aware of privacy laws. So what do you believe is the biggest perception from consumers about how marketers use data for more effective customer engagement?
Drew: – This is a great question. I think that the biggest misperception that exists out in the market is that marketers want to know as much as they can about consumers so they can send more marketing to them. I would say that in a lot of cases that’s not necessarily true, yes, they want to understand preferences and things consumers are interested in to make sure they’re targeting their audience effectively, but the other thing the flip side of that is they also want to ensure that they’re not wasting any of their marketing dollars on segments or audiences that won’t be interested in their product or service either. So there’s that aspect to ensure they’re reaching out to people who would likely be interested in what they have to offer. I think the other piece too is and this gets interchanged a lot which I think is the challenge is the thought of data privacy versus data security. I think everyone wants data security, we want our financial information to be secure, we want our health data to be secure, things like that, but I think when we start to transition over into some of the things that I may buy online, some of the things I search for, some of the things I may browse online, things like that, especially in a lot of the situations where that data is anonymized, those things become, you know, less impactful as it relates to data security. It’s really more around preferences and things that could be interesting for people. And so I think consumers interchange those things mistakenly. I also think lawmakers do that as well and I think it’s a little bit of a misnomer when people talk about data privacy, I think a lot of people immediately believe that they’re talking about data security. And so once again I think everybody wants that.
I think we all have become used to data privacy and how data is used as it relates to the products or services that are offered to us or whenever we go into a bank to get a loan for a new car or whatever, we’re so used to being able to do that and have that happen the same day. Well, if there wasn’t a free flow of information it would be very difficult for that to happen. So I think that’s the biggest misperception that people too commonly interchange data privacy and data security without really understanding what the unique aspects of each one of those are.
Shelly: – Another thing I wanted to ask you is that, we all know that the data should be at the centre of any organization. So there’s also a study that reveals that data-driven organizations are 162% more likely to surpass revenue goals and 58 percent more likely to beat their revenue goals than non-data driven counterparts. But how do the companies ensure that they accomplish this?
Drew: – Yes, it’s a big challenge, Shelly, and I think there’s a couple of things that are super important for people or companies to think about. I think first they need to think about putting that data at the centre of their enterprise. I think that’s incredibly important. I think there’s a couple of things you can do that will really put you on the path to ensuring you’ve got the right data to run the business. And I think the first thing you have to do is take a data inventory. I think you have to understand where are you creating data, where are you capturing data within the enterprise that could come from various systems, some may be operational systems, some may be point-of-sale systems. There may be a lot of different places that data is being captured but ensure you take an inventory of this and you get a good understanding of what are all the data feeds that are coming into the business.
I think, secondly, then you have to also reconcile that data and see if you’ve got things that are duplicative or you’re getting the same data in multiple places, how do you establish kind of a data source of truth or what’s going to be the source of truth for a particular piece of information or set of information that you’re going to use to drive decisions about the business. I think that’s also incredibly important. And then I think you need to understand where the data is coming in, where is it going back out to feed insights, reports, decision making, things like that to get a sense of the use cases for how the data is being used out in the business. Also very important to understand those use cases. Then I think the last thing you have to do, I think, is all along this process you should have a data curator, someone who takes responsibility over kind of curating the data assets that exist and then also ensuring that there’s a process for updating, editing, refreshing all of that information and then distributing that out on a regular and consistent basis to those systems that are going to consume that information.
I think if you kind of go through that process, you can move a little bit closer to ensuring that you have the right data to drive the organization. But I’ve seen a lot of examples where the marketing organization is doing a great job at building out customer personas of who their customers look like, but that’s never being shared back with the buyers who are out trying to procure new products and trying to get a sense of what customer is going to buy what product. And there needs to be consistency and a sharing of that information. So when we talk about who our customers are, everyone up and down the supply chain understands exactly what the different segments of a customer may be for any particular enterprise.
Shelly: – This is very interesting. So my next segment is camping trails. So could you please share a few examples of marketing campaigns that you think are very inspiring?
Drew: – I’d be happy to do that. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the work we’re doing at Wiland with a lot of non-profit charitable organizations really trying to ensure that they’re reaching out to as many new donors as they can be, that’s one of the things that I’m extremely proud of really trying to make sure that money gets raised to support a lot of wonderful causes out there, so those are things that we’re doing to support, you know, a lot of large non-profit charitable businesses out there to ensure that they’re maximizing their existing donor base, but also out finding the next generation of new donors as well. So I’m proud of that work that we do. But I think a few examples of other campaigns that I’ve seen that are very effective, I think the recent Dove campaign that they’ve been doing to kind of highlight the aspect of social media peer pressure among younger women is very, very important. I think they can get a really powerful message across but do it in a way that doesn’t directly promote their products or their services. I think that work that they’ve been doing is really, really awesome.
Another one that I love is Walmart’s, you know, kind of brand promise that they have which is saving people money so they can live better. Everything they do refers back to that and I think they live that brand promise every single day all the way down from Doug McMillan down to the store managers all the way up and down. So I think Walmart’s done a really, really nice job at kind of staying on message with a lot of their marketing campaigns. And then the other one and this may be a little kind of interesting, but I was really impressed with the work that Southwest did during their holiday meltdown on how they handled that whole situation. I think while it wasn’t necessarily a marketing campaign, I do think it was an example of how you deal with customers in a very effective way. They couldn’t take back the situation that happened, but what they could do was acknowledge that they made a mistake and they did that. They publicly said, hey, we screwed up, we weren’t prepared for this and we had an issue. So that’s the first thing that they did, then I think secondly they tried to make it right.
I can give you a personal example of some friends who got caught up in that whole situation and had to extend travel for seven days. They had to go to a totally different location to take a flight back home. They had to extend their trip that long and Southwest covered their rental car, covered their hotel expenses, you know, really took care of them and gave them a nice reimbursement for the disruption to their travel that they had caused. And I think that builds brand loyalty and I think the folks that I’m talking about will definitely fly Southwest again. And so while it wasn’t necessarily a marketing campaign, it was a great example, when you do have an issue and you do have something that impacts a lot of your customers, it was a great lesson in how to handle it in a very, very effective way.
Shelly: – The next segment is trends. So let’s talk about any top three trends which you see that are, you know, local or global which they are worth watching for?
Drew: – Sure, I’ll give you three trends and then I’ll give you a freebie too, the three trends that kind of, you know, we see in our business that a lot of clients and brands that we work with are really continuing to focus on, I think one of the major ones I would say is a lot of brands and a lot of marketers continue to focus on the return on investment of their digital spend. That goes across programmatic if they’re using Facebook, if they’re using any of the retail media networks, we’ll talk about that in just a second, but, you know, I think they’re trying to make sure they understand are they getting a payback for the money that they’re spending on the digital side of business. I think it leads into attribution: how are they attributing any of that particular return back to the different channels, things like that and that’s kind of a Holy Grail trying to find an effective method of attributing the right performance back to the right channel. But I think that’s something that will continue to be a trend and I think a lot of the brands are spending a lot of money in media and in the digital landscape will continue to work on ROI.
I think the second thing we’ll see is other large brands continuing to roll out their own advertising platforms and media networks. We’ve seen this happen with Target, with Walmart, with Wayfair. I think you’ll see other brands who have a significant amount of traffic on the web who can leverage their own publisher side of things and use advertising on their own site because they’ve got such a large audience, I think we’ll see more of that happen as well. It will be interesting to see if it impacts the advertising revenues of Google or Amazon or Facebook because, you know, they’ve had anywhere from 75% to 80% of the online advertising market. And I think it’ll be interesting to track over the next few years to see if that starts to get distributed into other media networks that exist. I think Walmart could definitely put a dent in that and I think Target could too. So I’ll be interested to see how those metrics shift over the next few years. There’ll be more optionality for brands and where they place their advertising. So I think that it will be good to kind of shift a little bit away from some of the other wild gardens.
I think the other one and this is a little bit of an interesting trend, I think we’re going to see direct mail. While it hasn’t ever really gone away, I think we’re going to see it making a little bit of a resurgence over the next few years as some of the marketers who may have shied away from it the last few years will see it as a viable channel for them. It’s also very interesting because you definitely understand the response from the mail that you put in someone’s mailbox. So I think we’ll see some people come back to direct mail and add it into their advertising and marketing mix again, you know. It may not be a major channel for certain people but we’re seeing a lot of digitally native companies who have been online only actually dipping their toe in the water and testing direct mail. So it will be interesting to see if that trend continues as well.
Shelly: – Is it because the first party data has become very important and the death of cookies, that could be a reason?
Drew: – Shelly, I think that’s a little bit of it. I think the other thing too is, it’s still a very addressable channel. You know the person, you have a lot of information about the person at that address who’s receiving the direct mail piece. I think you can, you know, with advances in the kind of variable digital print that you can do to customize and personalize direct to mail amount you can get a lot of personalization on direct mail. I think the other thing too is, we’ve seen a little bit of the credit card mailers who over the last 10 years or so were doing so much work to put so much direct mail into the mail stream around credit card solicitations. We’ve seen that fall off somewhat and so even during COVID, there weren’t as many mail pieces in the mailbox and because people were stuck at home that was kind of something that everybody looked forward to, to see what’s showing up in my mailbox. So it actually performed very, very well. The non-profit charitable organization saw a huge increase in new donors and contributions from their existing donors as well. And they were doing a significant amount of direct mail and people were supporting causes because they kind of got, I don’t know if they got more in the mood or COVID pushed people to be more supportive of charitable causes or things like that, but direct mail made a little bit of a resurgence and i think they were in their homes and that contributed at that for sure. But it’ll be interesting to see how it evolves over the next few years.
And then the last freebie I’ll give you as a trend is I think as we see and this has been a little bit of a theme obviously, as we continue to see more State legislations, I think we’ll also see more momentum in trying to push toward a national Privacy Law in the U.S. That has not, you know, occurred there have been some instances of bills trying to be drafted that created National Privacy Law. But I think as we see more states trying to enact their own state level legislation I think that will hopefully garner some momentum around building a national Privacy Law that’s consistent for everyone that all of the marketers can adhere to, that covers everyone in the United States and not tied to a specific State view of how privacy should be treated.
Shelly: – That’s very interesting. I think it should be – there should be a national Privacy Law for the USA because it’s so difficult to follow every state legislation and, you know, it’s really good if it’s going to happen.
Drew: – Yeah, absolutely and, you know, you have to kind of take an approach of taking the strictest level of how the states implement their regulations and try to adapt everything you do to meet that. But if there are nuances or specific aspects of regulations one State puts in place or an axe over another, you still are bound to have to meet those requirements. And so it creates a lot of challenges for folks. And what we saw with CCPA and this is Drew’s opinion but, you know, there was a lot of momentum in getting CCPA enacted, but yet what we really found was that a lot of consumers really didn’t care about having access to their data. They didn’t want to edit or update it, they weren’t interested in understanding what data people were collecting on them. The amount of data requests that we’ve seen both through the time I spent at Acxiom and the time I’ve been at Wiland are very-very minimal if you look at it in correlation to the California population, the folks that live in California. So I mean I think less than a thousand requests for people to have access to their data yet. There was this whole huge set of legislation enacted that cost companies millions and millions of dollars to comply with, but yet really the consumer interest, at least based on the request, has been very low.
Shelly: – Right. So my next question is on future gazing. So what should marketers do this quarter for this year and for a horizon of three to five years, what are your recommendations?
Drew: – Sure, so I think as we see cookies go away I think the move to and I know you’ve had other podcasts about this, the move to collect as much first party data and I would say as much data as they can, that’s permission for uses today and in the future I think that’s going to be incredibly important for all brands. I think the data they have on all of their customers whether that’s name address information, their, you know, mobile phone number, their email address, their transaction history, all of that’s going to be incredibly important in the future. And I think the brands and the enterprises that have done a great job in collecting and curating all that data will have a competitive advantage over their competition who have not done that. So I would say first, you know, continue to collect as much information and data as you can.
I think secondly and this is, you know, a little bit of an interesting one, but I think, you know, the concept of an identity graph where someone understands all of the identification touch points that someone may have so that I can reach out to them and connect the dots whether I’m interacting with them online, I’m interacting with them via their mobile device, I’m interacting with them via their mailbox, whatever the case may be, having your own view of that identity graph that links all of those identities together, so whenever I want to have a cadence around marketing outreach I can do that or I know the channels that someone’s interesting and hearing from me in, I have all that information aggregated and synced together, I think that’s going to be incredibly important too. And I’m not talking about sharing, I’m saying really within that brand or company building their own that they have really that’s a corporate asset for them to understand all of the touch points of all of their customers. I think that’s going to be very very important.
One of the other things I would say too is and this is something all marketers have done forever but they need to continue to do, I think it’s a test and learn. And, you know, I would also encourage them to apply this to all aspects of marketing and advertising. I mean campaigns, yes, testing different segments, obviously the ability to test offer creative, you have a lot of flexibility to do that online. You can change those things up very, very easily, I think you’ll always be testing those things. But I think the other thing too I would challenge them to do is test frequency of communication. There are certain situations that I can give you examples and I won’t name the brands but that ask for major purchases meaning multiple thousands of dollars but yet they send you emails promoting those things every day. I’m not going to make that level of decision every day and so your response would be the same whether you sent me 30 emails or whether you sent me a well-timed email once a quarter. So I think understanding, you know, the best frequency of communication, I think understanding the best channel if there are cadences of channels that should be tested, I think there’s just a lot of aspect of test and learn that brands can try to employ to ensure that they’re doing their part to build the relationship with their customers. And I think, you know, we talked a little bit about this when we were trading some of our notes. I mean my level of engagement or desire for how I engage with a brand may be different from yours. And so being able to understand my preference and how I want to be treated and interacted with as a customer different than yours, you’re almost trying to move marketing down to an individual level and I think that’s a quest, that’s an aspiration, things like that, but I do think marketers should be thinking about that. They should aspire to try to deliver one-to-one marketing to an individual level customer. And I think some of them are moving in that direction but I think some don’t think that way at all and I would just challenge them to think a little bit differently.
And then the last thing I would say is just and we’ve talked about this, it’s been a theme, continue to aggressively monitor the privacy and legislative landscape, I think that’s going to be very important. It is a full-time job for someone to monitor what’s going on in the States from a data privacy standpoint. I think designating someone in your company to own that information, to be the representative to lobby, to understand how those things might be shaped in a way that doesn’t negatively impact marketers, very, very important but I would encourage all of the brands to ensure they have someone who’s focused on watching on those things over the next few years. I think it’s going to be very, very important for them.
Shelly: – Very good points. So this brings us to the last segment of this show. Tell us any one passion you follow and how it helps to elevate your profession?
Drew: – You know, one thing that I’ve been passionate about for the last 20 years really has been ensuring that all of us in the field that we’re in are doing what we can to educate, develop, mentor, and grow the next generation of marketers. And we did a lot of that work through the work we were doing in Marketing EDGE which was a non-profit organization that fostered and developed education for the next generation of marketers and that was wonderful work that occurred over the last really 50 to 60 years. But I took that to a little bit of a personal level and did that at the University that I graduated from, the University of Central Arkansas and really worked within the business school to do what I could to help connect some of the real world needs to how curriculum was being built and developed. And so we had a lot of success in shaping some of the new programs that they’re launching around business analytics. They’re also launching some certificates around sales and salesmanship and some of these things we said were going to be incredibly important in the future and having them listen to what the business, you know, said they would need in the future and how to prepare students from the moment they graduate to make them fully employable day one, that’s kind of been a mission. And so I’m super passionate about, you know, ensuring we’re educating the next generation of marketers and have done that with the local University here and we’ll continue to do that. And it’s definitely a passion of mine, I’m also passionate about intern programs and ensuring those students have the opportunity to participate real world scenarios and get on the job experience and hopefully get a chance to try a company out and, you know, really enable the companies to also build a pipeline of talent so that they’re prepared for the future. So it’s been awesome and I’ll probably continue to do that for the rest of my career, but so far the outputs and the outcomes have been really good. So I’ve been very proud of that work too.
Shelly: – That’s great, it’s like giving back to the community.
Drew: – Yeah, well, it’s a little bit of, you know, we’ve got to ensure that the future’s bright and part of the way we can do that is by, you know, talking about the values and the great work that goes on in this industry and getting those students prepared to step into it because a lot of people don’t know what they want to do and the earlier you can educate make them aware of the opportunities that exist here, the greater chances you are by placing that talent into this industry and hopefully the future will be very, very bright.
Shelly: – Yeah, that’s so right. My interview with Terry is on talent, so please watch that episode whenever it is posted. She also has shared some great points on, you know, nurturing the new generation and talent and training. It’s great.
Drew: – That’s awesome, yeah and she’s wonderful it was such a blessing to be able to work with her over the past 15 plus years and I learned a lot from her and really she’s a unique individual and appreciate all of her leadership and work that she did being the President of Marketing EDGE so she was a wonderful leader.
Shelly: – No doubt about that. Great. So where can our viewers find you and connect with you?
Drew: – Sure so very easy. My email address is D-May – firstname.lastname@example.org, so very, very easy to get in touch with me there and also, I would say, you know, if you want to connect on LinkedIn, reach out to me, reference this podcast and I’ll be happy to hook up. I typically don’t connect with folks that I don’t have a relationship with, but if someone references this podcast and they want to continue whether it’s a dialogue, discussion or they have some insights to share, I’d love to connect with them.
Shelly: – That’s great. Thank you so much for your time today and sharing your insights. I really enjoyed the fun position and I hope to meet you in person sometime in the future thank you.
Drew: – That would be wonderful, I would love that.
Shelly: – Thanks. To viewers thanks for listening and if you enjoyed this show, please leave a rating and review. I’ll see you next time in a new episode with a new speaker. Till then peace.
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