It seems as though, nowadays, data analysis represents the only surefire strategy to proceed with a competitive business on the market.
To quote Dan Zarrella, marketing without data is like driving with your eyes closed... pure madness! Indeed, time and financial resources to invest in vain no longer exist and there is no room for that “proviamo, vediamo, speriamo” (let’s try, let’s see, let’s hope), PVS approach anymore. This acronym was coined by Francesco Sordi, Scientific Marketing Consultant, Lecturer and Founder of Surf the Market, to indicate all those companies that favor the operational side of things over the analytical one, without managing to justify why a certain campaign worked or not.
In an area where margin for error is increasingly limited, thinking before doing is of fundamental importance: only by reasoning in a scientific way are we able to understand the reasons that cause a business strategy to work and, therefore, result in making solid decisions that are undoubtedly effective.
Here at the Content Intelligence Network, we are closely studying the ways in which Artificial Intelligence is analyzing data to measure the impact of content on the final customer experience. As a result, we wanted to go into further depth on the “data-driven strategy” topic with the aforementioned Francesco Sordi, the first to have published a scientific marketing manual in Italy entitled “Evolvi il tuo marketing – Il marketing strategico e scientifico” (Evolve Your Marketing – Strategic and Scientific Marketing).
Q: Why do you think data represent the platform that every business should start out from? For what reason is it so important to apply a scientific and rigorous method to marketing?
A: Nowadays, the competitive context that companies find themselves working in is increasingly fierce and challenging. Indeed, we are finding ourselves in a different scenario compared with that of a few years ago: one where there is a great deal of competition that is ready to raise the bar and a decreasing number of potential customers. Corporate economic factors are such that we cannot put them under pressure with the wrong choices.
With the higher risk involved in making decisions, it is becoming increasingly important to be able to do so quickly, and in a precise and detailed way. The times when we could allow ourselves to make a mistake are over. For this reason, and in order to quickly manage the large amounts of data available, we must give ourselves a single decisional analysis dashboard.
Q: Why do companies need a content marketing strategy driven by data? Some have pointed out that trusting numbers too much could hinder the creativity that has always animated entire ranks of marketing professionals. What are your thoughts on this?
A: To create our brand identity, it is not enough to just communicate. We need to say the right things, at the right time, in the right way, and to the right people. Indeed, this is the crux of content strategy. However, how do we know what the right content is to transmit? Easy, thanks to data analysis.
The relationship that is created between strategy and creativity is an honest and complementary one, not a substitution.
To explain this, I always use the water metaphor: I imagine creativity as a mass of water with potential energy. If I manage to make it flow in a precise direction, which is that indicated by strategy, I will be able to produce energy, a bit like the way in which hydroelectric turbines work.
The more strategical analyses I carry out, the stronger the creative energy will be. In as far as a company communicates, there must be recognition on behalf of the customer. For this reason, we must be able to focus on and respond to what the user wants. Strategy indicates where to converge, while creativity offers the best solution to do so. Together, they provide the optimal result on a communicational level.
Q: What do you think Artificial Intelligence’s role is in this process of turning data into value?
A: We are finding ourselves faced with a problem of a cultural nature. Whether they know how to collect data or not, companies are full of them and what they are missing is the ability to elaborate them in order to make decisions. This is the paradox of modern business: we have endless piles of data, and yet, we are still following “gut” resolutions.
Artificial Intelligence, which allows for more data to be collected and analyzed according to specific algorithms, helps companies to automate some processes connecting inputs and outputs. The inputs are the data collected, and they conceal within them a true narrative of the user’s customer journey. It is fundamental to be able to analyze and interpret them to turn them into insights that drive decision-making in a scientific manner.