December 15, 2019

How Independent Agencies are Going Beyond ‘Data-Driven’

Written By: GlobalWebIndex

Independent agencies are changing, and for good reason.

With more brands moving audience research in-house, looking to take back control of their budget and output, many agencies are positioning themselves differently.

Branching out to become more specialized, they’re honing in on their unique expertise and creative talent, because this is where agencies can’t be beaten.

But at the heart of this is deep consumer insight that brands know and trust. This is what ensures creative work is on point and sure to have real impact.

Investing in transformative insight that goes far beyond demographics is where the indie of tomorrow can get a competitive advantage. Here’s how.

The changing role of consumer insight 

”Amazing things will happen when you listen to the consumer,'' said Jonathan Midenhall, CMO of Airbnb. Consumer insight has always been central to effective brand positioning and marketing strategy. Today, it’s taking on a whole new role. Traditionally a lengthy process involving several arms of external research, uncovering an actionable insight took both time and resource.

Now, every forward-thinking brand knows consumer-centricity is key – something only achieved by putting insight in the driving seat. Here’s why.

1. Consumers have changed.

They expect more personalization, more authenticity, and more relevance from brands, meaning these brands need to know them on a much deeper level to meet expectations.

2. More than ever, insight is everything.

Brands are taking large-scale audience research in-house to get straight to the insights that make a visible difference, because complex technology is making it possible and easier to reach a new audience, or optimize their existing reach.

3. Technology is paving the way for a new brand.

Disruptive technology is empowering brands, giving them more control, more knowledge and more visibility than ever. Solutions like GlobalWebIndex are making ‘instant insight’ a reality – enabling marketers to streamline their processes, align their strategies, an improve their effectiveness.

4. Strategic thinking is making a comeback.

Leading brands have realized the overarching need for strategic thinking versus tactical immediacy. They’re taking robust, reliable and up-to-date consumer data in-house that enables them to infuse consumer-centricity in their strategy from end to end; telling them who to target, where to invest, what to measure and how to optimize.

Being the data-driven expert 

As Dan Zarrella, Social Media Scientist at Hubspot says, ”marketing without data is like driving with your eyes closed.” The big idea behind using robust and reliable data to guide your decisions is to position your agency as ‘data-driven’ experts. 

But it’s not enough to say you’re data-driven - you need to prove it. This means taking data far beyond what agencies are used to, translating the reasons and motivations behind consumer actions and turning into compelling stories for clients to use.

The question of trust

When it comes to agency work, client trust is everything. With the right level of trust, a client will have confidence in your recommendations, your decisions and your work, and keep coming

back for more. This is the way to stronger and longer-lasting client relationships.

So how can agencies increase trust levels among their clients, and use data and research responsibly and transparently?

The key lies in using research that shows your work is based on insight that comes directly from the consumers you’re targeting.

Here’s an example.

One U.S.-based independent agency was pitching for a new potential client, entering a competitive race for their next few years of creative work.

Looking to target millennials who primarily purchase products online, the agency knew it had to delve deep into this wide-reaching audience to have an impact. The team, searching for insight that would spark creative ideas and teach them everything to know about the target consumers, posed these questions:

  • What devices do they use?
  • What social platforms are important to them?
  • How do they discover brands?
  • What do they want brands to do for them?
  • How do they conduct product research before purchasing?
  • How do they spend their time on social platforms?

Turning to GlobalWebIndex for answers, the team found insight that would guide their pitch and strategy to win. This painted a portrait of a consumer who:

  • Was mobile-first.
  • Actively discovered brands and researches products by using search engines.
  • Wanted a strong relationship with brands they can learn from.
  • Enjoyed video content.
  • Used social media for a combination of news and entertainment.

Knowing the full story, focusing on the details and the motivations behind the actions, the team could present the client with a campaign strategy guaranteed to have an impact. 

By showing the client that every pitch and idea is backed by universal truths, they proved they could be trusted to present strategies that are finely tuned to the right consumers, and that their data is fully opted-in by the consumers themselves.

Crafting the perfect pitch

The key to winning new business and delivering a successful pitch is to know the consumer far better than the client. 

To truly prove to clients that you understand their audience, you need to lean on trustworthy data and present it in a way your client can immediately understand.

The importance of insight in pitching: 

  • It helps you stand out from the crowd.
  • It makes everything from campaign and strategy to media planning easy as pie. 
  • It squeezes the most out of your time and budget. 
  • It gives you the data you need to back up your creative talent. 
  • It enables you to compete with the world’s top agencies.

But it’s not enough to just show up with good ideas. You need to show how those ideas will make a difference to their brand. Here’s how to do it. 

Ensure your data source is credible. 

Make sure your data is coming from a credible source that will help you develop your expertise, not hinder it. 

Find the insights your clients don’t have. 

Come prepared with deep insight into their target audiences, and showcase not only your ability and your eagerness to know their consumers inside and out. 

Understand more than just behaviors. 

Your data source of choice must offer insight into not only behaviors and demographics, but motivations and perceptions. 

Visualize the journey. 

The best way to win a pitch is to provide insight into everything from a day in the target consumers’ lives to their path to purchase. 

Be a data storyteller. 

For your client to really believe in what you’re saying, it takes creating a story that will resonate, just as you might do with any campaign. 

Show them the return. 

Putting granular consumer data behind your ideas proves to the client you have a solid, reliable foundation to work from, rather than turning to educated assumption

The competition in the agency world is stiffer than ever, but it’s possible to stand out. While most agencies have access to and use a data source, the data itself has evolved far past its ancestors. 

Now, you can get complete insight from the consumers themselves, based on their behaviors, perceptions and attitudes, enabling you to know not only what they’re doing, but why. This way, you can generate unique ideas that are guaranteed to resonate and engage, proving to clients that you don’t simply rely on past experience or educated guesses. 

When you use a top-tier data source, and use it right, you can go far beyond data-driven and prove yourselves as the true consumer experts.

Written By: GlobalWebIndex