Building a Connection Driven Strategy in A Sea of Data

Building a Connection Driven Strategy in A Sea of Data 

Too much of a good thing isn’t always a good thing. Data certainly falls into that camp. It has its place, of course. You can mine rich insights from data and secure a direct line into what customers might want. You can also use data to test assumptions and then extract preferences from the information that can later be tied back to consumer behaviors. But as the data piles up, it’s possible to lose sight of the customer, and in return lose sight of the real thoughts, perspectives, and feelings of people.  

Consumers are complex beings. If the goal is to create something relevant and impactful, data needs context. Numbers are meaningless on their own. As consumers become savvier, marketers need to do more than just find the right audience. They must make their brand memorable — a task that’s not often as straightforward as one might think. 

The Larger Changing Media Landscape 

What is culturally relevant has changed heavily over the past few years, largely due to the pandemic. In the wake of stay-at-home orders in 2020, new media behaviors emerged, with many sticking around.  

Gaming has taken hold as a major entertainment competitor, the OTT/CTV landscape is increasingly fragmented, and the rise of TikTok has created a new variety of ‘creator’/influencer culture (one that moves faster than ever). 

As platforms and networks continue to proliferate, audience fragmentation across outlets only becomes more pronounced. An opportunity can be found in the diffusion, but many brands fail to see it. Targeting a broad audience has been the standard and marketers don’t always recognize the potential in designing new protocols that magnify the number of relationships, touchpoints, and connected experiences for connecting with consumers.  

Beyond audience fragmentation, consumers expect more out of brands. Topping the list is an expectation that brands see and hear them and respond to their needs accordingly. Research from Dentsu revealed that 6 in 10 consumers cite “feeling seen and heard” as critical for driving brand affinity. They also want to buy from brands aligned with their values, and that starts with refining their consideration set based on who is making progress in issues like DE&I and sustainability.  

Establishing More Meaningful Media Experiences 

As we get closer to a cookie-less experience, our ability to connect with audiences in the way we typically would - via retargeting, behavioral, interest-based targeting – is going to be challenged significantly. 

Brands will need to find ways to incentivize a connection, giving audiences a reason to engage. This puts an increasing reliance on being culturally relevant and creating real value for consumers. Dentsu’s own research found that personalization is the third key driver of purchase intent, with 70% of consumers citing it as a key decision-making factor when making a purchase.  

Brands need to look to understand who their consumers are, what’s going on in their lives, before pairing those needs with their brand purpose and ambition.  

This creates a ‘value exchange’ between the brand the audience, which can applied to the consumer journey and act as a lens for partnerships and how we want to behave on different platforms. Starting from a place of empathy demonstrates a brand’s emotional intelligence and can help marketing truly resonate with people, which has shown to perform twice as well.  

A great example of a brand doing it right is Mastercard, which launched its “True Name” campaign back in 2020 to ensure that transgender and nonbinary customers can now display their chosen names on their credit and debit cards without a legal name change. At Carat, we put emotional intelligence at the core of our media strategies. In an industry drowning in data, we help clients draw impactful, human-first insights from information. It’s one of the most effective ways of connecting with consumers on an emotional level, which can have a direct impact on a brand’s business performance. We should know. We created a whole Brand EQ Index report on it. 

The Inception of Designing for People 

Our work to marry EQ and data in advertising led us to develop a planning process we call "Designing for People," which is a multidisciplinary approach that gets brands to think differently about marketing. We work toward capturing the big picture; putting the consumer at the center in order to create an experience that is mutually beneficial for them and the brand. Starting with a deeper understanding of people allows brands to: 

  • Reframe business challenges to better align with customer needs 
  • Identify what makes a brand’s products and services valuable to consumers  
  • Amplify their unique value proposition with each consumer interaction 
  • Grasp what truly moves a target audience to take action 
  • Architect meaningful media experiences that resonate with consumers 

 This pairing of data and empathy makes it possible for us to get closer to our ultimate goal - an emotional response from consumers, which in turn, can establish a connection that balances short-term outcomes with long-term gains. 

 If you’d like to learn more about how to bring empathy to your data-driven strategy, or would like to further understand how our team is designing for people, get in touch.

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