If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten — R Kipling. The same is true for data. Today’s brands are beginning to understand that their content will only be remembered if done right — at the right time and in the right format. These moments define the story. And by using data insights, we can tell better stories.

Brands and marketing agencies for years have produced work based on gut feeling. We simply didn’t have the data, and what we did have wasn’t readily available. Then we had the data — lots of it — big and small, and the rulebook changed forever. Yet aside from all of the data available, you, as a business and a brand, know little about who your customers are and still operate, much of the time, in guess mode. But what if you could understand your customers better? Would you be able to appeal to them so they were happier because their needs were met, and then you were able to grow and do more of that? You would hands-down.

Today we’re seeing massive shifts in the way brands and customers interact – driven by the data that’s created by the expectations of customers – customers who are continuously moved to higher standards with the solutions they have at their fingertips. Let’s face it: as consumers, we have access to information, products, and services faster than a drive-through. And this is creating a shift beyond an audience-focus but to an audience-first mentality.

Using Data Insights, You Can Tell Better Stories

The data that’s available, and churned out by our online activities and behaviors, allows us as marketers to make more informed decisions about the creative we create, and more importantly, the creative we continue to create for the audiences we serve.
Keep in mind one thing: data is a buzzword right now. And while it can be tempting to just ‘go out get some’ data on its own does nothing. It requires a plan that dictates how you’ll use it, an understanding of your markets to the extent that you know where you’ll apply it, and then, what you’ll do next with it. It’s somewhat like having a set of Magic Leap One goggles but no idea how to use them or access to the technology to implement them to create beautiful things.

Don’t end up there; here are a few tips on using data insights:

1. Know thy customer. You want to know how your audiences think, feel, and what they do.
2. Develop a goal-focused toolset. A new shiny tool we’re using at Savy is Google Cloud, and we’re only scratching the surface of what’s possible.
3. Create a plan. Then use the data to get you there.
4. Use the data to drive decisions and don’t stop there. Visualize it as a continuous loop of needs and behaviors: create, implement, test, revise and repeat. And then continue. Find the players in your industry that are doing it right and see them as a source of inspiration. After all, just because your industry has ways of doing business, it doesn’t mean that should be what your industry is doing today. This is where we’re seeing industries disrupt, break apart, and create new.
5. Data analysis can, and should, be fast. The more time we take to pour over the data, the higher the risk we miss the next moment. If the focus becomes one of exploring data, we may miss the point. Seeing numbers and graphs is easy; interpreting and applying those insights is the magic.

Data + The Story = Unforgettable

As creatives and as marketers, our role is to use the data to more deeply understand our audiences and find the gap between what the data is saying. And from there, to make brand decisions that add meaning for users both logically and emotionally.
If your business hasn’t begun mining the utilizing the data available, don’t worry, but it’s time to dig in. That doesn’t mean you throw out the gut instinct that led brand and business decisions for so long. What it means is that instinct can now be backed up with the insights and adjustments to make better decisions, now and into the future. I stumbled recently upon another Google Partner website who said: “Data hurts until it helps.” And that sums it up. As marketers and brands and as creatives and thought leaders, we like big, bold ideas. But when layered with insights, we can make not only dazzlingly creative choices but dazzling strategic choices. And that can be a perfect mix.

Are you using data insights with either the brands you work with or in your business? Tell us about it. We’re listening.

Christina Brown, Certified Google Partner and Creative Director @ Savy Agency, a national digital marketing agency out of Bend, OR and Santa Barbara, CA.