"Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Today’s column is written by Simone Chaffiotte, vice president and director, audience strategy at Carat USA.
When companies arrange their marketing organizations by separating brand building and performance into distinct departments, teams often define their key audiences with different types of data.
Brand builders lean toward attitudinal data, relying on brand equity metrics and segments to target those who may eventually want to buy their product. On the other hand, performance-oriented marketers believe actual trackable behaviors are king.
At its heart, this disconnect comes down to a critical question: What defines value?
Brand builders tend to take a long-term view of value. They are willing to invest today for the future of the brand or product, be that one, five or – sometimes – 20 years down the line. They measure their success in metrics like brand equity, momentum and brand love. Even when brand marketers select a more direct outcome metric, such as consideration or purchase intent, they’re really just choosing predictions of future success, not guarantees.
Conversely, performance marketers often prioritize short-term value and measure success in sales or a predictable behavioral metric like footfall, lead generation or site engagement.
So, who is right? It’s an ongoing debate, but if we approach the question from a consumer point of view, what becomes most apparent is that we’re asking the wrong question.
What’s critical isn’t “what is value” but “who is most valuable.” By identifying the most valuable consumers who are grounded in the business and the brand, individuals can be prioritized based on their contribution to both long- and short-term goals.
Defining the most valuable consumers
For example, let’s say a brand has an attitudinal segmentation, which they use to direct their overall brand strategy and tactics, such as awareness and consideration. They also target in-market segments for performance tactics. When they overlay the brand segmentation with the performance target, they may find that only a small percentage of their brand audience is likely to achieve both goals.
In my experience, the overlap of brand and performance audiences is usually only about 50%, meaning if companies focus on their total brand audiences, most of their spend will go toward people who will not move the business.
On the other hand, a brand may choose to market to all category buyers. While this strategy ensures they spend against people who could contribute to the brand’s performance, it approaches all purchasers as if they have the same mindset. Instead, this brand could find unique attitudinal segments within the category buyers and prioritize those most aligned to the brand.
In both cases, by defining the most valuable consumers, brands can focus their media and messaging decisions on the sweet spot within their brand audiences, driving performance while also building the brand.
A most valuable consumer strategy
A critical component of a valuable consumer strategy is a clear alignment on who will drive the brand and business. It’s OK to have different metrics for brand and performance, since they’re different objectives. However, the same people can and will drive both metrics. It’s important to understand who will help achieve both. A strong audience strategy is the meeting point of two intersecting dimensions: one for the brand and the other for sales.
A single view of customers is also required. Often the brand and performance arms of a business use different data sets. However, the intersection of the two targets can’t be understood if the data isn’t connected. Using both attitudinal and behavioral data can help identify who aligns with both brand and performance goals. While this is often easier said than done, it’s critical as we move forward to the next era of marketing.
Brands must know who their future, most valuable consumers are, as well as their current. Just because someone isn’t likely to contribute to sales in the short-term doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable to the business. By identifying their most valuable consumers, brands can also identify future growth opportunities and begin laying the foundation with them through specific executions tailored to their needs and mindsets.
There is a role for retargeting in a most valuable consumer strategy. Anyone who shows interest in a brand is important, and focusing on the intersection of brand and performance doesn’t mean they should be ignored. Brands should consider prioritizing those individuals that fall into both their retargeting pool and their most valuable consumers.
Finally, brands need to see the world from their consumers’ point of view. What would a total brand experience look like through their eyes? How many total ads are they receiving, for both brand and performance? Do those messages make sense together? How can you make the experience more seamless, enjoyable and add value to their lives?
So, is brand value defined as long-term or short-term performance? While the debate around the definition of value may continue, identifying who aligns to the brand and drives performance can help build more meaningful experiences and successfully achieve both short- and long-term growth.