The role of data in interactive marketing

A wonderful “perk” of leading marketing at BloomReach is that I get to collaborate with insightful interactive marketing executives across retail, travel, classifieds, lead generation and more. At our Boundless Discoverability launch event on February 23, a few of these marketers will join me on stage to talk about what’s “Moving the Needle” in marketing. While we all strive to win the relevance race, one of the most important investments is our human capital and we frequently talk about the changing skills and talents we need on our teams.

So, what is the profile of the future interactive marketer?

One point of view is that data is the future of marketing.  Marketers who can analyze, manipulate and interpret data will be most effective at segmenting, targeting and optimizing their content, advertising and products. There is little doubt that the days when marketers can be intimidated by spreadsheets are past.

But there really is too much data for people to process. And the data is stale within hours of being captured because consumer demand and web content changes so quickly. And data from different systems doesn’t match up easily. In fact, BloomReach was started to put the power of large-scale systems and machine learning to this very problem – determining what existing content should be on each web page to ensure that each page is relevant and fresh for the user. Other technologies also automate the targeting of advertising and the management of keywords and terms for paid search.

So is the future interactive marketer really someone who can manage a myriad of computer systems that are processing data in real time? Is the future interactive marketer a person who can correlate, synthesize and compare data from all these systems? In truth, I think that process will also be automated because there’s too much data. Solutions like BloomReach are going to be more efficient and more effective at analyzing and acting on the data than people ever can be. Savvy marketers will run to implement and use them.

Another point of view is that the future of interactive marketing might be “back to the future” – great marketers will be great content creators. All the best data in the world cannot help you if you don’t have the right products to sell (data can tell you what those products might be). And data cannot create demand or generate unique, compelling content that engages the consumer and invites the consumer to explore your products and services.

Great interactive marketers of the future will need to understand their audience (with wonderful insights from technologies like BloomReach), drive demand with creative and communicate succinctly, emotionally and effectively. Data will be a major role – to show marketers what’s working and what’s not, but  real-time adaptation based on this data will be done dynamically by BloomReach and related technologies.

Bridging the digital discovery divide

Today’s world of massive information creation, distribution and consumption has created a digital discovery divide. On one side are the consumers who struggle to discover the information, products and services they seek, growing increasingly frustrated in the process. On the other side are the marketers of web businesses, who have precisely the information sought by consumers but may lack the resources to surface it effectively.

Consumers must sift through ever-growing mounds of new content—whether it is user-generated, editorial or socially informed. It’s no surprise that fully 16% percent of queries on each day are new. And 18% of consumers consult social media when looking for new information online. Online searchers have become increasingly specific and targeted in their queries, collaborative in their evaluation of options and forced to find novel ways to express their intent when confronted with a sea of infinite possibilities.

Web businesses have not designed customer experience with access patterns in mind and therefore must struggle with the problem of getting found. Many have a browse-centric website architecture, which virtually ensures that desired information is several clicks past the initial platforms (Google, Bing, Facebook) where shoppers begin their quests. From both a consumer and search engine perspective, the information on many websites is just too massive and too hard to crawl.

Simultaneously, the rate at which business inventory, search queries and web pages change on a daily basis is accelerating. And while platforms are evolving and refining the methods by which they discover information, web businesses must step up and play an active role as publishers, ensuring that their hidden content gets found by an increasingly discriminating consumer—one who is looking to quickly accumulate information and make a purchase decision.

Connecting consumer intent with relevant products has never been more challenging. An unprecedented opportunity exists to conquer the digital discovery divide—one of the most exciting business challenges today and one with the potential for profound impact in transforming the online consumer experience for the better.

To read more about the digital discovery divide, and what you can do to address it, please download our whitepaper here.