April 1, 2021

The right way to use data to drive your brand forward

Peyton Sutton

EVP, Client Partnership

This is the third in a three-part series of Curiosity’s coverage of Adweek Challenger Brands conference. 

“Data can’t tell you where to go, but it can tell you how to get there.” For Challenger Brands in growth mode, a data-first approach to your marketing strategy is critical. Here’s how the best in the business have embraced a data-driven mentality to drive business growth.

Remember that all marketing is performance marketing

Historically, performance marketing has been thought of as marketing to drive sales only;  bottom-funnel marketing designed to compel immediate action. The very best Challenger Brands in growth mode leverage the wealth of data available to completely reframe that thinking: all marketing is performance marketing. After all, advertisers activate campaigns to deliver on a specific business objective, whether that is awareness, consideration or sales. Now more than ever, we have access to real-time data that tells us whether we are successful in achieving our objective or not. As Sara Spivey, CMO of Braze, told us: Only 10% of brands are using real-time data to make optimizations; other brands use historical or static data to optimize. Awareness marketing should be set up to achieve your awareness goals the same way that direct response marketing should be expected to drive sales, and we should leverage real-time data to optimize towards our objectives.

Focused Learning Plans

In order to effectively optimize using real-time data, we must begin by having an incredibly focused, precise learning plan. A focused learning plan has a singular, defined KPI for each campaign and has alignment from all internal stakeholders and partners. Brands generally make two key mistakes when it comes to setting learning plans: setting out to achieve multiple KPIs, and being afraid of real-time measurement and optimization towards awareness goals.

Too often, brands set out to achieve multiple objectives or measure multiple KPIs which muddies the focus of each individual effort and doesn’t allow us to effectively optimize. Remember: You can’t optimize towards more than one KPI.

Awareness-focused performance can also get complicated. We have to get comfortable with the fact that a learning plan for a sales-focused objective will look very different from an awareness-focused objective because the speed of the feedback loop varies. A sales-focused campaign can provide us a near real-time feedback loop, but an awareness-focused campaign’s feedback loop will look much different. 

Creating the right learning plan as the foundation for decision making will ensure you stay laser focused on delivering on your ultimate objectives. Performance against that learning plan should ultimately drive all of the decisions you make to optimize your media and creative efforts. 

Creative Built to Flex

Arguably the most challenging part of being responsive to results is how the creative idea can adapt, scale and flex as we learn. Without the proper plan in place, brands are left with few options for how to respond creatively to results and will end up making simple, ineffective updates as a stop gap until the next creative production. 

Production plans and big ideas should be built with flexibility and adaptability in mind. On the big stage at the Challenger Brands conference, our friends at SharkNinja discussed a modular approach to creative productions, which Curiosity has embraced with our Native and Charlie Banana clients. We approach our productions with optimization in mind, creating a modular suite of assets and potential optimization options so we’re set up to respond quickly to in-market results. 

Most important in letting data drive your decision making is that you have to be prepared to be surprised and challenged throughout the process. You must be willing to learn without expectations, as data-driven decision making is rooted in taking risks and being open to change. As Sara Blakely, Founder of Spanx, shared “There are innovators and imitators. As a Challenger Brand, you have to be willing to take risks and be willing to fail.” 

We challenge our brand partners to be innovators—willing to use data to create fail-safe learning environments to drive their brand and business objectives forward.

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