There's no need for fluff and buzzword BS when there's rock-hard data to draw upon. Look around the business world, and you'll see marketers who are enhancing their products with data-informed decisions. When you consider the vastness of data sets like Google searches, commercial transactions, social networks, GPS and the connected fitness trend, it's not hard to believe that as a society, we log about 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day.
Research from 360i found that consumers spend almost $300,000 a minute shopping online; brands garner 350,000 Likes per minute on Facebook; and Twitter users send more than 600,000 tweets per hour. The magnitude and specificity of this information has given rise to the term Big Data. But unlike a lot of the buzzwords in our 30 Days of Buzzwords series, this term is here to stay, and we're happy about it.
Below, we've rounded up eight CMOs and CEOs who are doing data right, and growing their companies thanks to data-driven insights.
Richelle Parham is responsible for conecting eBay customers with the thinkgs they love through integrated marketing campaigns. One of her biggest initiatives to date is eBay’s new data-driven homepage, “the Feed.” Consumers can "follow" categories of items — from Ray Ban Wayfarers to vintage typewriters to costume jewelry — and stay on top of the newest listings, whether they're collectors or simply in search of something specific. Its "follow what you like" feature is reminiscent of Twitter, while the gridlike presentation distinctly Pinterest. In her role as CMO, Parham keeps an eye on analytics and searches for ways in which her marketing team can optimize its efforts. "I like when I have the opportunity to understand what inspires their path to purchase and what matters to them," Parham has said.
Neil Lindsay is Vice President, Marketing at Amazon, a company known for using data to create customer relationships and optimize customer service, whether it's suggesting items or resolving issues. In recent years, Amazon began selling its data on customers to third-party companies as a marketing solution — unlike other companies, Amazon doesn't offer browsing history; it knows what people want to purchase. Despite empowering other companies to market themselves better, Amazon has traditionally invested in its own product rather than in paid marketing opportunities such as TV ads — the company would rather grow by word of mouth, Lindsay explained at ad:tech in 2012.
Beth Comstock is chief marketing officer at GE. The "big startup" has a whole hub of data visualizations to reveal information such as how much energy certain appliances use, and how much it will cost you. These visualizations bring attention to GE's products while helping people make better choices. In a CES talk last year, Comstock explained that it's her job as a marketer to find value in and make sense of the vast data sets available. “I get breathlessly excited about data,” she said.
Kelly Bennett is chief marketing officer at Netflix, and was previously at Warner Bros. He's led the digital marketing initiatives for many major recent box office hits and strategizes the promotion of Netflix's original content, including House of Cards. Netflix has gotten much praise for its algorithm that drives recommendations and continues to turn customer actions into a better experience, most recently with real-time processing. And it appears to be working — Netflix data usage comprises one-third of North America's Internet data consumption.
The summer of 2011 marked a turning point for big-box retailer Walmart — it brought on a CTO as part of a massive effort to reinvent the company’s business model and birth a more flexible, entrepreneurial identity, namely in the area of ecommerce. To succeed in this endeavor, Walmart launched the social, mobile and retail-focused @WalmartLabs in Silicon Valley, and it's acquired a handful of tech startups, including Kosmix and Vudu. @WalmartLabs developed the search engine, Polaris, which uses semantic search algorithms to understand what someone is searching for and thus, boost sales. On top of that, the lab's Social Genome Product culls through millions of tweets, Facebook messages, blog postings, YouTube videos and more to detect purchase intent and drive ecommerce.
Data has always been an invaluable asset to Rent the Runway, as its analytics team uses it to make decisions on everything from marketing to operations and inventory buys. Early on, RTR's data illustrated that 25% of its customers were adding an accessory to their designer dress orders, so RTR jumped on the trend. "Rent the Runway actually launched an entire upsell program on the site because of this strong data," says Hyman. Strong data has proven to be essential in monitoring customer trends, and capitalizing on new opportunities for revenue growth. Our Runway, the startup's search engine of UGC photos, was launched in part because women who had viewed photos of dresses on real women were 200% more likely to rent than those who have viewed a dress on a model.
The Financial Times has a data team of more than 30 people, spread across three groups: Data Analytics & Campaigns, Data Product Development and Data Technology. Together, they are using data — namely audience data — to push the FT's circulation levels to new heights, and to make the paper's advertising products more competitive.
The FT's data-gathering process begins with its paywall, which it set up in 2007. The FT.com asks users to register to read up to eight articles per month for free. Registrants — there are more than 5 million of them — are required to declare their email address, zip code, industry, job responsibility and position level. The FT uses that information to deliver more targeted advertising — advertisers could, for example, target a campaign to executives in the telecoms industry, or HR department heads in Brazil. The FT also maps patterns in readers' behavior to help convert them to full-time subscribers.
A beauty subscription service obviously has to tailor to various complexions, hair types and looks, but Birchbox's utilization of data goes far beyond these physical traits. "From the beginning, data has been an essential part of Birchbox's growth and strategy ... we use it to make important company decisions, and use it to guide us towards creating the best possible new products for our customers,” explains Deena Bahri, VP of Marketing of Birchbox. Birchbox utilizes big data when they launch a new service or offering, and for Birchbox Man they used both behavioral and survey data. By surveying subscribers, Birchbox discovered that there was a high demand for male-focused products; and after careful analysis of a Limited Edition Birchbox Man release in November 2011, the company decided to launch a dedicated subscription delivery service for men in April 2012. Ever since this success, Birchbox has continued to use survey and behavioral data to improve its offerings, deliver exactly what its consumers want and stay relevant.
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Image via iStockphoto, Nikada