data + humanity = greatness

Numbers, graphs, ones and zeroes arranged just so. They’ll only take you so far without the human mind. You know the one—capable of impressive feats, yet fallible. When you combine the two in ideal proportions, your marketing budget goes further and delivers more of the business you want. 

First, glorious data. You should know that here at cohort, we’re kind of in love with it. It comes to us in a dynamic and often surprising flow of changing consumer behavior, digital marketing algorithms, and client needs. We’re proud of the expertise we’ve developed through more than a decade of analysis and optimization for real people who need to see results, not just numbers on a report. We just keep learning more from data, and that means we’re able to keep offering more. 

So what’s so great about data?

Think about traditional advertising for a moment. Your television, magazine, or radio ad might make a real impact on your target audiences, but it’s tough to know, especially if you’re running more than one campaign at a time. 

Digital campaigns, however, are set up on the front end to track for results. If your goal is to make sales directly from your site, you will find out exactly how much each conversion costs. If you need to get your phone ringing, you can trace the paths customers take to clicking your number.

Data can even improve relationships. Have you ever disagreed with a colleague about which version of creative to use? Or maybe the argument took place inside your head—it happens. Data, in the form of the results from an a/b test, can provide a clear path forward. There was a time when running expensive focus groups was the only way to know what resonated with your targets. Now, you can generate reliable quantitative data quickly and affordably. Maybe one version is terrible and one is stellar. Perhaps four of your five options perform well and it makes sense to use all of those. Why not know instead of guessing?

Also, if you have a boss or partner who’s not sold on a particular tactic you want to try, such as search marketing, ask them to consider trying it with a limited budget or for a short period of time. Then discuss ahead of time what level of results you expect and look at them together when they’re ready. If the campaign is performing for you, keep doing it. If not, you gleaned valuable information that can inform your other marketing efforts.

What do people bring to the table?

You can set a search engine to run an automated campaign for you, and similar services can determine who sees your video or display ads. You will receive reports, and it may look like you’re getting a lot of response and a healthy volume of traffic. The thing is, it takes a person with knowledge and judgment to synthesize, optimize, and act on data in a way that gets you the results you want. 

Many clients come to us using automated digital marketing programs, often for search marketing. We talk to them about what they want to achieve, take a hard look at their existing data, customize a plan, and continually adjust for best performance. In one case, we reduced cost per click by 75% while boosting traffic. In another, we greatly increased the quality of the search traffic, delivering visitors who spent time, called, and engaged in other desired behaviors.

As useful as computers can be, they lack context and nuance. This results in marketers wasting ad spend on thousands of clicks to their sites from people who bounce right off. Let’s look at an example. Sadly, we were working with a client who experienced a horrific tragedy in their community. Search volume related to this area shot up exponentially because people wanted to know what happened. We immediately paused their campaign so as not to waste the client’s budget. When we resumed, we had restructured it to filter out searches related to the tragedy. A bot doesn’t know how to make these decisions, it just maximizes available spend. 

Unqualified traffic isn’t limited to search. Letting an automated program choose where to place your display ads might not be your best bet for targeting and can result in your brand becoming associated with sites you’d prefer not to appear on.

And here’s another wrinkle. Your ads could be on point, but your site might not be working with them in the optimal way. A digital marketing expert, using data as a guide, can customize your landing pages to take your prospects from initial interest all the way through to new customer. We look at the whole picture from all sides because acquiring new business isn’t always simple.

So there you have it.

Streams of calculations spit out by a cold machine are a wonderful start. Then, when a human with knowledge and expertise comes into the picture to wield that data in the right way, you reach the right people with a message that resonates. We think that makes for digital marketing greatness.

Go forth. Go digital.