Blake Davies
Blake Davies 27 September 2017
Categories Advertising, Technology

The State of Data-Driven Digital Marketing in 2017

Last year, more than 63% of marketers reported they have increased their spending on data-driven marketing, and around 20% of all marketing spend goes on data-driven advertising campaigns. One-third of industry professionals highlight that the right technologies for data collection and analysis are essential for better understanding of customers. Currently, 44% of marketers say they have data management platforms, and 33% are planning to have one.  

Evidently, it represents a fundamental part of any marketing campaign. Basically, it is defined as a set of strategies built on the understanding of data collected from the analysis of user engagement and interaction. Data-driven marketing allows for targeted and optimal media buying and creative messaging. It takes personalization to a whole new level.

Where did it come from

The data-driven marketing as we know it today began with the invention of the customer relationship management software which enables marketers to obtain basic information on their customers. As it allows them to extract their customers names and contact information, CRM is to thank for more direct marketing campaigns.

Here is where marketing automation companies like Eloqua and Marketo experienced their 5 minutes of fame (that is, are still living their 5 minutes of fame). Building individual marketing profiles tracking their customer behavior on the website and email, as a result automating emails.

On the other hand, for companies like Picnet, this data-driven era meant shifting focus from traditional analytics and BI to predictive analytics. Ultimately, this has provided them with greater insight into which marketing campaigns will provide them with the highest ROI, thus making the entire process faster, nimbler and overall more cost-effective.  

What are the benefits

This data-driven, automated or semi-automated decision-making provides the answer to some of the most crucial customer-related questions – who, when, where, what and how.  As a result, marketers have seen their optimized ads performing up to 50% better. How come?

  • Data boosts media buying. Utilizing machine learning technologies and advanced algorithms, marketers no longer have to rely on guesswork for media planning and buying. Instead, they are making more informed decisions that are leveraging greater results.

  • Better defining target customers. Collecting some of the basic user information (demographics, location, interests, purchasing habits, etc.) marketers have what they need to define their buyer persona and come up with a campaign that will get in front of their eyes.

  • Drafting a relevant message. Cold emails and generic messages are no longer cutting it. Personalization is of the essence if marketers wish to grasp their customers attention since people nowadays are only reacting to campaigns that they can identify with.

  • Manufacturing the best product. Owing to data-driven marketing, product failure rates have dropped significantly. Analyzing customer data, companies have enough information on their wishes and requirements, thus being able to develop appropriate products that are able to fill the market gap and answer their specific needs.

What are the challenges

While it may seem that this marketing approach serves you with the perfect ingredients for success on a silver platter, data-driven marketing still comes with its unique set of challenges.

  • Gathering the right team of people. For top results, you need top talent; they have to be professionals in a specific niche you operate in and have to have high skills in predictive analytics or audience amplification.

  • Obtaining the right tools. While some companies come up with a great strategy, they are not willing to invest in the right tools. As a result, the data is often incomplete, irrelevant, or even incorrect, and as such practically useless.

  • Multiple departments. Larger companies have several smaller and specialized marketing departments, all collecting data individually. At times, it happens that they collect different data which often leads individual departments setting different campaign goals which might contradict one another.

How to actually do it

Data-driven marketing is a complex process, and to yield fruitful results, a marketer does not only need to possess rich knowledge on the subject but also needs extensive experience. Nevertheless, regardless of how long someone has been in the data collection and analysis business, certain elements constitute every data-driven marketing campaign.

First off, a marketer is advised to integrate cutting-edge tools that will automate the process, but still, allow for a certain degree of personalization.

Furthermore, as we have previously listed inconsistency among teams, we wish to highlight the importance of gathering the right team of people who will ensure the data is shared among different teams and across various marketing departments. It is also important to select staff members who will keep an eye on changes in the industry and what the competition is up to. Like every other branch of marketing, it is ever-changing and the only way to stay on top of the game is to stay informed.

Finally, remember that you cannot take a cookie-cutter approach when it comes to data-driven marketing. It requires constant monitoring of the result and adjusting the campaign accordingly. This enables you to identify the best possible tactics for achieving the goals that have been set, as well as tweaking the ones that have not proven fruitful, or even remove them completely.

Proven examples

Though data-driven marketing is far from a new concept, many are still struggling to utilize its full potential. For this reason, we have selected several examples of those who have managed to achieve outstanding results:

  • GreenPal – this lawn mowing company started with a campaign which targeted an entire Nashville area, and while the performance was good, they strived for more. They chose to make it more contextual and relevant by segmenting zip codes and running specific ads for each one. As a result, they saw more than 200% lift in CTR and more than 30% lift in on-page conversion.

  • Hiresquare - they use PPC data to optimize their copy. What they do is run a PPC campaign for a while to collect information on the keyword relevance and use the best possible phrases for SEO.

  • PCloud – Ivan Dimitrov, company's digital marketing manager highlights the importance of monitoring on-going campaigns. Namely, when pCloud rolled out a new feature, he noticed that users always left at one particular step, and has decided to gather a team to work around that one step. In the end, they saw a 135% lift in conversion rate and 124% in conversions.


The future of data-driven marketing is bright, and alongside AI and predictive analytics, it is slowly but surely becoming an integral part of a successful marketing campaign. This is mostly due to the customers' progressive needs, high expectations and their yearning for more personalized experiences. And you know what – their list of needs and requirements is yet to expand.

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