How effectively do you use data in your marketing activities?
Priya Wadhwa
10X People

How effectively do you use data in your marketing activities?

“Digital is old,” says Aida Sahraoui, founder and CEO of WONe.

The world says data is critical in digital marketing; but very few actually use it. And far fewer even know how to. Company marketing budgets call for digital, yet the essence of digital — data driven decisions to increase effectiveness — is often missed.

In a world inundated with digital tools, the lack of expertise sees digital marketing efforts often not reaching their full potential.

Here is a woman who is changing this: Aida Sahraoui, founder and CEO of WONe, a digital marketing agency that uses the power of data to drive marketing strategies, decisions and deliveries — transparently.

Hard numbers and data crunches are the superpowers of Aida. She explains to SME 10X how she provides consultation on marketing strategies, media management as well as training. She also regularly gives lectures at Astrolabs to startups and executives who want to increase their digital proficiency.

“Essentially a client has yearly targets they want to achieve, we tell them how they need to do it from a digital perspective”
Aida Sahraoui, Founder and CEO of WONe

Whether it is “at the beginning of marketing strategy where a client comes with yearly targets” or “those who have internal teams handling SEA, SEO, social media, websites, and others”, Aida helps them realistically look at how they need to go forward with their marketing campaigns and “optimise their efforts” through audits.

When it comes to running campaigns, Aida uses digital platforms of LinkedIn, Google, Facebook/Instagram, Twitter, and others themselves to track data points, engagements, conversion rates, LTVs and more. She explains that while digital marketers can use other aggregator or campaign tracking tools like Google Stacks, they can ultimately “consider using cost-effective tools provided by digital platforms since they have the latest updates and because this is also where you can segment your audiences and manage your campaign.”

Let’s start with data and privacy

There are 3 major ways to collect data: first party data is what customers willingly share with companies as part of loyalty programmes. “So if someone came in the store and made a purchase, and gave you [their] first name, last name, email ID and phone number, you can take this information, plug it into Facebook, or Google and show him ads.”

This also includes data collected through cookies. Aida says, “This helps scaling because it is not as limited as first party User data. And it's something that the platform provides, thanks to what we call a pixel, which is a piece of code that you take from the platforms and put it on a website.”

She further explains, “So anytime you visit any tracked website, cookies are dropped, and we measure everything and then a classification happens.” For example a person goes to fashion e-commerce platform multiple times in the last 30 days and has made multiple purchases, they would get classified as “engaged shoppers”; if they’ve bought items that are above the average price, they get classified as “engaged shoppers with intent to buy high value goods.”

Other ways of collecting data are 2nd and 3rd party data, which applies to collecting data from other sources that sell 1st party data originally collected by them (this falls under 2nd party data) as well as other sources that collect data across several platforms (not collected by them) then sell it (3rd party data).

Talking about privacy concerns, Aida believes there is still much room to move. GDRP in the region saw hardly any changes except for the cookie policies and notifications. With time, she says privacy policies will only get stricter probably as per the EU market today.

How best practices can overcome challenges to transparency

The issue when it comes to advertisements is more to do with bad practises than cookies or data itself. People want to be shown ads that are relevant. When digital advertising is done well, people are shown what they might be looking for, instead of being harassed with ads all the time.

“When it comes to ads, I think we just have to do it the proper way. Put frequency caps, target properly, don't harass people with ads, and show them things that are relevant to them.”
Aida Sahraoui, Founder and CEO of WONe

There are many digital marketing agencies who promise to do everything from SEO to photoshoots and social media (across organic and paid). While a big full-service agency can often provide those services with the power of multiple specialised teams, this is not often the case. Sadly, more often than not, experts who claim to do it all are not specialised experts in data-driven digital marketing.

Many agencies also follow a monthly report model, says Aida, in spite of calling themselves digital agencies. The whole point of digital is data, which is available in real time. “As a matter of fact, we provide real time dashboards. So at any point of time, any client can look and know how much they’ve spent and how much they got out of it, which is, for us, an amazing way to be transparent with our clients. So they a lot of agencies share PDFs once a month, we're far from this.”

The unplugged gap of creativity

Coming from the traditional media, the challenge for advertising when it comes to digital is that it needs a complete overhaul in the thinking process. Moreover, the efforts put in into creating designer social media posts, and videos with celebrities, does not financially match the time for which the creatives are aired.

So for example a company hires an international celebrity, as well as a designer, director, video production team, script writer, video editor, only to develop a 1 minute video which will only live for a short period of time in the news feeds, then there is a problem.

This is the crux of the problem for traditional advertising agencies who have gone digital without data driven creatives. Furthermore, designers, copywriters and creative directors think differently from data-driven marketers.

Answering this dilemma, Aida says that “Algorithms are built to push a certain type of content over others. For example, short videos do very well on social media. But they do not need to involve massive productions. You have software today that can add text to pictures, and pan across them to give the moving video effect, which will work well too.” Other alternatives include taking existing footage and editing to add text onto it. World Economic Forum has been doing this on their LinkedIn feed, garnering thousands of views.

The way forward

“You have to find the best balance between creativity and straightforwardness — get to the point, make digital friendly content.”
Aida Sahraoui, Founder and CEO of WONe

For small businesses and startups, digital marketing is the cornerstone of achieving market visibility. Aida advises to “focus on relevancy and efficiency. Go for the right digital channel. So if [you are] a B2B [company] where your audience is present on LinkedIn, it has an amazing lead generation tool that helps you connect with people, wherein you can be really targeted.”

“It's all about the methodology you follow, and how deep you go into understanding what you're doing, and what is the outcome. It is also about giving the importance to the numbers, but also to creativity in the content first approach, because content is king.”

Education and knowledge in data, as well as expertise to use it correctly is essential. Merging creativity of advertising and storytelling with a data-driven approach is really tough and there aren’t many who have mastered this art, which is why we call ‘viral’ content as viral. The school of thought has changed with data determining the visibility of your content. It is up to marketers to learn to take this as a challenge and use the algorithms to their advantage.