5 Ways Consumer Data Can Deliver a Competitive Advantage for Agencies

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Walter Chistoni
Latest posts by Walter Chistoni (see all)

The relationship between brands and their agencies continues to evolve along with the dynamic media landscape, but one thing will always remain the same: The best brand-agency partnerships are the ones built on a shared understanding of goals and intimate knowledge of the brand’s target audiences. In this regard, agencies can prove themselves indispensable to their clients—and even get their foot in the door with prospects—by offering high-quality consumer data and leveraging it across the marketing funnel. Let’s look at how agencies can use consumer data for five key use cases.

New client pitches

Consumer data represents a vital tool for agencies when it comes to new client pitches, especially given that the agency selection process at today’s leading brands is more pragmatic than ever. Before a brand hires a new agency, they want to know the agency can bring something new to the table. And without a doubt, new audience insights and opportunities to grow a brand’s business are bound to get the right kind of attention during a new business pitch.

By having access to an always-on source of consumer insights, agencies can demonstrate their knowledge of a prospective client’s unique industry positioning and audiences while providing a glimpse into the actionable new insights they will leverage once the relationship is formalized. The beauty of tapping into real-world consumer data for new client pitches—versus framing up a pitch based on theoreticals—is that new insights developed during the pitch preparation can translate seamlessly into client deliverables after the business is won.

Data-driven personas

Beyond client pitches, agencies can also use rich consumer data to develop user personas for their clients. Personas are characters created to represent different user types for a brand, site, or product. They help a brand understand their customer base in a rich and meaningful way so the brand can develop personalized programs that drive better ROI across channels.

In helping brands build personas, agencies should start with the brand’s customer file and then look to overlay third-party data in a way that can bring the personas to life. Any brand can build personas as long as they have a customer file, but it’s the addition of third-party data that really helps brands get into the mindset of their various audiences. Third-party data offers additional attributes—like marital status, education, income, interests, life events, and purchase history—that help brands gain a better understanding of their audiences in order to build deeper connections.

Improving campaign performance

The development of strong personas is just the first step to elevating a brand’s marketing efforts. When it is time to put personas into action, consumer data is a vital resource for agencies looking to meet and exceed performance goals.

By combining the power of a brand’s first-party data with accurate, high-quality third-party data, agencies can help their clients build scalable and sophisticated audience models that can be leveraged for campaign execution across all stages of the consumer journey, from acquisition to retention.

Acquisition—arguably the most important KPI for many marketing programs—is becoming increasingly challenging and expensive. The cost-per-acquisition continues to rise on platforms including Facebook, Instagram and Google, which is prompting many brands to diversify their efforts. As agencies help brands venture outside their comfort zones, accurate consumer data will deliver better results every time.

Like acquisition models, retention models are also dependent on strong consumer data. An estimated 80 percent of a brand’s sales will come from 20 percent of their existing customers, meaning retention must be a key point of focus for brands and their agencies. Retention models use historical first-party data, such as purchase data, to predict future behavior and inform both existing and new campaign efforts. To make retention models more accurate and effective, they should be supplemented with additional consumer data such as age, gender, presence of children, income, interests, and other insights to help build more comprehensive models.

Analytics and insights

The effectiveness of consumer data goes beyond developing and deploying client campaigns. Powerful campaign analytics and insights fueled by consumer data are essential to optimize future efforts. In fact, enhanced analytics is a key area of focus for today’s brands. According to a recent Forrester Consulting study, data and analytics programs accounted for about 9 percent of overall marketing budgets two years ago. Today, that average has risen to 16 percent and is expected to continue its upward trajectory. By 2021, marketers expect to be spending an average of 22 percent of their marketing budgets on data and analytics. For the average enterprise with 500+ employees, this equates to a $5 million increase in their data and analytics budget in just four years.

To capitalize on this significant need, agency leaders must ensure their organizations have on-demand access to unique datasets and tools that can adapt to the unique needs of any brand they serve. Third-party data, when overlaid with campaign analytics, can help brands uncover new audience insights that lead to new opportunities.

Data processing and consulting services

Today’s agencies are expected to bring deep data expertise to the table when partnering with brand clients—expertise that translates to better persona development, campaign performance, and resulting analytics and insights. But sometimes the need for strong data partners exists at an even higher level, one where agencies serve as always-on advisors for data management tasks and strategic evaluations. To meet this need, agencies can white-label data services to improve their clients’ ability to understand their own data and enhance it with third-party insights.

As agencies solidify their roles as strategic advisors to their valued brand clients, one of the main ways they’re doing this is by delivering unique, actionable audience insights that can serve their clients’ needs across the marketing funnel. In deepening their consumer data capabilities, agencies can advance their client relationships and open the door to new areas of collaboration.


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