Marketers today must be entrepreneurs. The days of agencies tinkering over a creative in the back room, nuancing every last detail for months on end, and then when it’s finally done, debuting it to the world in a grandiose way are long gone. Technology has changed the way we create and interact with our audiences and what they expect from us. Today we create campaigns in weeks, not months, sometimes even in hours and days—and they’re driven by data. For the most part, that means we have more certainty than before about how our different audiences will respond. And we tailor content to their unique tastes and preferences. We approach campaign creation in three phases: research, development, and rollout. Technology and data permeates all of these phases.
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In the research stage, we’re drawing upon insights from past campaigns. Because we’ve measured and tracked performance, we have a detailed historical record of what worked well for which audiences. As a global organization, we draw upon the research on user segments conducted by our business groups for products—everything from smartphones and tablets to workstations and servers. Oftentimes, we’ve announced upcoming products to the press and done some initial social media activations—this runway gives us some early feedback into which messages resonated in the media and with consumers and analysts. By analyzing the tone of coverage and which features get more “air play” as well as how our social audiences are engaging with the topic, we have a great view of what to focus on in the campaign. We combine this research with keywords trending on search plus ongoing feedback happening on social media to get a good picture of what the market thinks of a product.
We’re always trying new things. As a marketer, that’s part of the fun and challenge because the industry is changing so rapidly. One recent way we’ve experimented is in testing creative. While making content better by using sentiment analysis isn’t new, using technology that analyzes a person’s facial expression as a measure of sentiment is. What we’ve learned is that the best testing method varies by each piece of creative. Sometimes, this high tech testing is exactly what’s needed. For example, this testing convinced us to make changes to the end of the Moto Hero spot. The original ended with an explosion, but testing feedback told us people considered it dark and confusing.
Technology has changed the way we create and interact with our audiences and what they expect from us. While we’re all about pioneering the latest technology for testing creative, we’ve learned when to use it and when to use more traditional routes, such as with our ThinkPad Beatboxer film. Because this spot focused heavily on surprise and disruption, using eye tracking would actually skew the results, translating a viewer’s confusion or shock as a negative emotion. Since the video shows a ThinkPad continually being torture tested while the music goes on and on and on no matter what the laptop goes through, we wanted to make sure we read the reactions correctly—that necessitated asking viewers specific and simple questions about their interpretations, perception and consideration of the product. We got high marks in this testing: more than 95 percent of people said they would find out more about the product; more than 79 percent said they perceived ThinkPad as a quality brand; and 84 percent would now consider ThinkPad. When we launched the film on our global social platforms, we reached 2.6 million people and achieved a nearly 50 percent engagement rate, substantiating our positive testing results.
In addition to optimizing our content, we’ve been experimenting with dynamic creative. This tool lets us leverage real time product pricing via our website data feed along with consumer site behavior data to build out a more automated, yet customized, advertising program. We’re able to individually message each consumer with relevant product messaging in the right place at the right time.
However, we’ve learned that for other types of content, especially the most time sensitive ones like real time marketing content, just getting it out there organically in social is a good way to see if it has legs. If it takes off organically, we support with paid media.
We optimize rollout with the right platforms to reach our audiences at the right times, and we carefully monitor and track how it performs with the platform tools and our social listening team. This allows us to get real-time feedback that rolls into the next piece of content.
There’s no question that today’s marketers must embrace data and insights. For the left-brained creatives amongst us it’s not always an easy switch, however the power that comes with using technology in marketing means that every dollar spent can be tracked for ROI. It analyzes every interaction and consumer engagement, making every campaign ultimately more successful.