By Andrea Gellert, Chief Marketing Officer, OnDeck
When you ask non-marketers what we do, you’ll likely hear things that focus on creative development like designing ads, choosing colors and fonts, and doing focus groups. While we certainly do those things and they are an important part of our responsibilities, there’s a lot more to marketing than most people think. Ultimately marketers are responsible for communicating to their prospects and customers, and doing so in a way that delivers positive ROI.
Blending creativity with metrics is critical to being a successful marketer today. Much has been written about the link between the CMO and the CIO, and based on my own experience I am 100% convinced that marketers who refuse to see their teams as data-driven organizations run the risk of becoming irrelevant in today’s marketplace.
Jeff Allen, a Senior Director at Adobe Analytics, compares the importance of data-driven marketing to Michael Lewis’ book, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, which articulated how taking a more metrics-driven approach in baseball essentially changed how the sport was managed.
“What’s the ‘one metric to rule them all’ in your organization?” asks Allen. “What’s your end goal metric? Is it revenue or is it bookings? In sports it’s winning. Beane knew if he could improve his team’s on-base percentage and hitting, he could win more games. If you win you’ll have all the success that’s possible.”
“You manage what you measure” is an old management adage, and keeping this in mind has certainly been something I’ve gone back to often because it’s human nature to improve what you measure.
Taking Metrics to the Next Level
I think marketers’ end-goal metric has always been to understand and communicate with their best customers. Fortunately, the data we have at our fingertips today makes it possible to identify these customers and communicate with them effectively about our brand, our products, and the value we provide.
1. Data and Models: Customer data helps us model behaviors and recognize traits our best customers share—helping us build personae that inform how and when we talk to customers as well as the things we talk to them about. This allows us to focus our marketing efforts where we’ll likely have the most success and on the businesses that will be more likely to reap the most value from what we offer. It helps us identify and focus our marketing messages within the channels they use to explore options and make choices. This approach makes our marketing messages more compelling generally and the data tells us where we’re the most effective as well as where we need to improve.
2. Marketing Automation: There’s a lot we can automate these days, from email communications based on data and behavioral triggers, to re-targeting methods, to programmatic marketing on content sites. Marketing automation helps us save time and maximize internal marketing resources. It also keeps us focused on who we’re talking to and what marketing messages we’re presenting. Finally, it allows us to measure, evaluate, and adjust, which keeps us relevant.
3. A Focus on Content: Because small business lending has changed so much over the last few years and business owners have more options than ever before—we focus a lot of energy on education so business owners can make informed decisions about the type of financing that would be a good fit for their particular business. Our content efforts allow us to have a more inclusive and meaningful dialog with our customers and receive feedback, questions, and comments that help us know what information they need to make decisions. I believe an educated borrower is a good borrower and a better customer—even if they aren’t a good fit for what we’re offering.
I’m convinced a metrics-driven approach to marketing makes us better at what we do. It makes us more effective as a marketing team, and it enables us to provide more value to our customers.