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What’s Between Your Two Bookends? A Marketer’s Guide to Working With Science

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 23 Mar, 2018
Essential Essential topic

If art is beauty, is science the beast?


Many corporations think so, judging from the way they silo their marketing and technology teams. Rarely do CMOs and CDOs bring the brains of both teams to bear on the company's marketing.


In an era when 38% of marketing professionals admit to underutilizing data for content strategy, companies that don't marry art and science struggle to snag smarter audiences with shorter attention spans.


And there’s no lack of data to be dissected. Dun and Bradstreet reports that more than half of businesses have increased their data-focused personnel. Regrettably, the same report suggests that fewer than a third of marketers have found a way to utilize and connect that robust data.


To bridge this divide, beauty (art) and the beast (science) need to come together for the fairy-tale ending every corporation deserves.


Turning Marketing and Tech Into Partners


At one end of the spectrum sits the CMO’s department; at the other, the CDO’s. Between them exists a realm of possibilities that can be unlocked with a “two bookends” marketing approach.


The first bookend is the new, big idea that marketing generates. The second bookend is desired outcomes. Between these bookends lies the real story. But unlike most book series, the story must be built backward to create a coherent narrative. 


Each step from last to first bookend covers the essential elements of any marketing campaign: defining the preferred user action or outcome, understanding how to engage the target audience, constructing buyer personas, and brainstorming the big idea.

Throughout the process, both art and science are at play. Marketers offer user empathy, creative strategy, and content and design expertise. Data specialists monitor metrics and examine prior performance data to recommend creative elements and media channels. One team without the other simply can't tell a story like the two can together.

Plotting the Cleanest, Safest Journey Between Bookends


The route from bookend to bookend begins with total immersion into the world of the target audience.


Shockingly, almost half of marketing professionals don’t tailor content to specific customer segments. Start by considering where customers and prospects hang out, both online and offline. What Facebook or LinkedIn groups have they joined? What are they saying on review websites like Yelp, Angie's List, and Amazon? What industry blogs and publications do they read? What conferences do they attend or sponsor?


From there, science can bring those avatars to life. CDOs and their teams can collect data at scale and make it available to CMOs. Working together, art and science can craft personas and keep a pulse on users’ needs.


Next, marketers and tech teams can define clear metrics by which the campaign will be measured. Remember, though, that not all data is important, especially if it doesn’t help to tell the story.


Use data to guide your strategy. For example, for WeAreTeachers.com, an online educator community affiliated with MDR, our writers, creatives, and program strategists monitor trending content and engagement metrics for associated Facebook groups. By building WeAreTeachers' articles around top-performing topics and keywords, we quickly deliver teacher-friendly content that's relevant and engaging.


Who Owns the Process? And Other Bookend Process Considerations


Prior to reaching the bookends’ midpoint, CMOs and CDOs should delineate roles on the basis of desired results. However, this doesn’t mean that any one element of the process belongs wholly to marketing or technology. More than half of winning companies see content responsibility as a shared function across verticals.


Need a quick way to divvy up ownership? Set up captains. At MDR, our campaign captains coordinate among the email marketers, social media managers, and more who're in charge of their respective channels. 


Give captains the green light to challenge their teams, even if it means slowing down the process. Team captains ensure that the bookend-to-bookend process is flowing, not rushing.


How, though, can captains be kept on the same page? Turn to a customer data platform (CDP). Globally, organizations are investing heavily in CDPs to the tune of $300 million. Not ready for a full-fledged CDP? Start with a shareable spreadsheet. Having one place where all data lives gives players an accurate, full picture of campaign performance.


Where does the data come from? We source ours from places like Google Analytics, our email campaign platform, display advertising networks, and multiple social media platforms. Our dashboard provides a 30,000-foot view of current campaigns, but it also makes possible drill-downs for each. Although some data points are still housed elsewhere, our dashboard displays impressions, reach, engagement, clicks, and conversions to give stakeholders immediate visibility into campaign performance.


With cross-campaign information available at a glance, leaders can make smarter deployment decisions, such as whether to change email subject lines or add funds to promote top-performing ads.


Reporting and Replicating


Data professionals and marketers alike recognize the truth in Pearson’s Law: “What is measured improves, and what is measured and reported improves exponentially.”


Maintaining a strict reporting schedule throughout the journey between bookends streamlines the process. With each report release, review data for optimization opportunities, and encourage all players to participate. Don't underestimate the insights of designers, interns, video producers, copywriters, and other players involved in the content creation process. Everyone can benefit from a bit of cross-training. 

Suddenly, it's back to bookend one, but the journey isn't over. It's time to turn to bookend two for a replay. 

You see, this isn’t a tale told once. It’s an ever-changing story that grows with every campaign. But to build a better story, CMOs and CDOs must learn from past initiatives, adding new target personas, honing creative elements, and tweaking their media mixes. After all, happily ever after isn’t a destination; it’s a journey.


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