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Strategy

The Creative Agency’s Guide to Using Data for More Effective Campaigns

August 22, 2018

10 min read

Effective campaigns are the holy grail for creative agencies. It’s what makes all the late nights, difficult client negotiations and periods of writer’s block worthwhile.

For creative agencies, effectiveness means the extent to which the advert resonates with their client’s target audience. It means finding the right narrative, compelling story and undeniable hook that grabs a consumer’s attention and keeps it to the end – then has them telling everyone about it!

In essence, effective campaigns will gift the greatest Return on Investment (ROI). To achieve this, investment needs to be kept to a minimum (who isn’t dealing with tight budgets these days), while each stage of the campaign creation and tracking process is optimised to reach the right customers, at the right time. (Can truly exceptional creative ever really ignore context, after all?) But this is the goal of just about every consumer-facing marketer and agency in the world, so what does an increase in effectiveness actually mean for each stage of the campaign process for your creative agency?

While there’s a small place for trial and error, learning from mistakes and gut intuition in any creative process, good quality data can be the shining beacon that holds your hand throughout the whole campaign build, and actively drives it towards the results you want.

Read on to discover how data can be used to increase effectiveness of your creative advertising campaigns by removing the guesswork from each stage of the process.

Audience Consideration

Your client will undoubtedly have a wealth of current-customer data that will go someway to illuminating the audience your campaign is to target. But how can you, as an external party, get to know that audience more intimately, to the level that you know how they think and can tap into their attitudes with your campaigns? With data, of course. This deeper level of understanding should spark ideas, inform your creative choices and set you on the path towards effectiveness.

Whether you already know the key demographic details (age, gender, household income and so on) and so need to illuminate behavioural trends within that segment, or vice versa, consumer insights can fill in the gaps to create a full portrait of the audience.

When using a platform like Attest, it’s easy to either set demographic quotas in your surveys and ask behaviour-based questions to add colour, or screen respondents into the survey using the behavioural answers you know fit the target audience and then spot trends in the demographics of respondents.

Both of these approaches should narrow your search on a particular segment, ensuring you can focus attention and avoid overspending on reaching irrelevant audiences, while providing a deeper, richer understanding of that specific segment.

And when it comes to reach, data can also inform these decisions.

Your target audience are keen viewers of Coronation Street, you’ve been told that much by the client, but what transport do they use to get to work? Advert effectiveness is intimately linked to pervasiveness, as frequent touches with the same potential customers builds brand awareness and reinforces key messages over time.

The focus should be on touching the same consumers repeatedly, rather than a broad stroke approach, touching many segments just lightly, if the campaign is to drive up ROI. Data can reveal exactly the journeys individuals within your segment take throughout their days, allowing you to optimise the number of times each consumer is exposed to your campaign.

Knowing your target audience inside-out will ease each of the following steps in the campaign production process. You won’t be feeling your way in the dark for solutions, there’s a clearer purpose in sight; to reach Joe Bloggs, while he’s on the Victoria line, listening to true crime podcasts.

To discover how to divide your (and your client’s) audience, read our post on How to Create More Useful Consumer Segmentation Models.

Trends and Timing

Trends that you should be actively paying attention to can be divided into two camps: industry trends (including what your competitors are working on and how successful they’re being in doing so) and consumer trends (what your key segments are hooked by at the moment and what they might be hooked by in the future).

Taking industry trends first, data can be used to illuminate the success of a competitor’s campaign, by working out which adverts resonate most with the consumers you’re keen to reach. You can then shift focus towards new, innovative and unique approaches that build on the successes of others while standing out.

As a very minimum, you also need to be listening to consumers to the same extent as your competitors. You wouldn’t want them to be more informed than you are, after all. But now that you have a direct line to your target audience (thanks to your thorough audience segmentation on Attest), you can go one step further to identify the trends that aren’t just getting the most likes on Facebook and the most column inches, but the ones that your consumers are actually invested in.

While your clients may have ideas on the way their markets are moving, you can offer further guidance by pointing to genuine, meaningful data. Not only will this help you win pitches, it will mitigate the risks involved in using temporary trends as a foundation for your campaigns. And it will elevate you from tactical execution of their wishes, to a genuine strategic partner (and we all know which ones enjoy higher margins, better working relationships and longer-term engagements).

When done right, ads based on emerging consumer trends can be some of the most impressive, eye-catching campaigns around, but when done wrong they can be expensive and embarrassing mistakes.

Taking a look at a brand who got it right, in 2017 Gucci, taking a brave foray into lowbrow content for a luxury brand, commissioned artists to adapt popular memes for their campaign promoting luxury timepieces.

Gucci understood that their target audience wouldn’t be impressed by the brand itself seemingly cutting the budget by taking content that already exists on the internet and repurposing it, so instead took the angle of commissioning respected artists to bring a tongue-in-cheek, digital flare to their campaign. The series of memes collectively received almost 2 million likes and over 21,000 comments on Instagram, outperforming the campaign preceding it.

Gucci_2

While there’s plenty of hype and secondary data documenting rising trends, can you be sure how the key consumers that matter to you actually feel about the trend, and how long it will last?

Primary data can give you a one-up on the competition, and prevent you from being sidetracked by a popular but, crucially, irrelevant trend.

Creative Testing

At the risk of preaching to the converted, obviously advertising campaigns should be thoroughly tested with consumer groups. While you may be of the opinion that data can impede the creative process, utilised the right way it is actually more likely to guide and enhance it, throwing up opportunities and ideas that might not have come about without the relevant research.

For more insight into how best to harness data in the creative process, check out our panel from Unbound on ‘How Brands Can Combine Data & Creativity To Innovate Successfully.’

Being data-driven is also a sure-fire way to avoid paying through the nose for a costly mistake. Especially when A/B testing is as readily available for offline creatives as online when using Attest. You may have had alternative creatives to hand that weren’t deployed but could have performed much better than the chosen campaign.

A/B testing creatives with your chosen consumer group has a whole host of benefits, the key to all is that it can refine and optimise the design and messaging process, so your work isn’t stabbing in the dark but properly connecting with the target audience.

Data will give you foresight into how each creative may perform in the wider arena, an irreplaceable way to gain confidence before the campaign even launches.

For more details on this process, check out these Five Simple Creative Tests to Get the Most from Audio and Video Advertising.

Tracking and Reacting

Any creative agency worth their weight will track their campaigns, to learn lessons for the future and feedback to clients on the ROI coming out as a result. It shouldn’t be a metric left only to media agencies.

Social listening is a popular option for out of home advertising, while Google Analytics offers a view of digital campaigns. While both methods produce a wealth of data, the relevance and meaning of this data is questionable. Self-reported data is more considered, reflective and representative of actual beliefs rather than random online behaviour, the motivation behind which can’t be so easily illuminated.

For an in-depth exploration of the limitations to social media listening and other forms of data collection, check out our popular report on ‘Brand Intelligence in the Age of Dark Social.’

Consumer data can be used for multiple purposes at the tracking and iterative development stages of campaign building (i.e. once your creative is live in the world).

Understanding the genuine responses to each element of your campaign can illuminate the successes and failures of individual channels within the same campaign.

Any creatives that were underperforming, messages not landing, or storylines that elicited the wrong response could be updated or even cut entirely, and budget re-aligned to focus consumers on the most successful ones.

Consumer data from Attest can be gathered quickly and accurately, allowing you the opportunity to bend your campaign and react to changes in sentiment, viral sensations, or new emerging trends. Being the first and most vocal to react to temporary situations can set your campaign above others, and the ripples will be felt throughout the rest of the campaign even after the trend has passed.

Specsavers have been heralded for seizing the moment, with their witty response to the 2014 World Cup moment when Luis Suarez bit Italian player Giogio Chiellini. Working at break-neck speed, Specsavers were able to capitalise on an event before anyone else, utilising data to be as up to the moment as an advert can possibly be. The advert reached 3 million people on Facebook within 24 hours of publication, and sticks in the minds of many as one of the best reactive campaigns of recent times.

Specsavers

Conclusion

Having this overarching awareness of the real-time performance of your campaigns gives an unprecedented insight into the moves you can make to positively affect ROI.

Making use of consumer data at all stages of the campaign development process will demystify the expected results, as you become increasingly confident in what will, and will not, resonate.

There’s now no need for creative agencies to make big assumptions at any stage of the process, as optimising ahead of time is a very real possibility thanks to the consumer intelligence Attest can offer.

To learn how to integrate data into every stage of your campaign processes, reduce risk, increase the effectiveness of your adverts and, fundamentally, drive up ROI, get in contact with Attest today.

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