The “digital first” approach is gaining momentum, and for good reason. Utilizing valuable consumer data and honing in on insights can add immense value to a brand, inform media decisions, and optimize spending – particularly when applied early in the process.

The CMO Club, in partnership with SocialCode, recently released Digital Advertising: A Treasure Chest for CMOs to Open, a solution guide that details how marketers can use digital advertising to achieve higher customer relevance, reduced waste, accelerated learning and greater marketing impact.

The CMO Club conducted over 80 CMO interviews and surveys to better understand digital marketing and data management strategies at large consumer brands. To discuss the findings, SocialCode hosted a session at the Fall CMO Club Innovation and Inspiration Summit, where they highlighted 3 key marketing opportunities for brands:

  1. Use Digital To Understand Your Audience Better

Using digital data, your team can create segment profiles that dig deeper than demographics or even market research.

Tune in to your audience’s behavior and note their interests in order to create an informed content strategy. Then, extend the conversation and create audience niches to foster authentic engagement. While using digital to segment your audience, don’t forget to listen to what customers are saying – this will help you understand how they interact both online and with your product.

“Because so many consumers are ‘digital-first’ themselves, smart digital campaigns and data management are not options; they are necessities (The CMO Solution guide).”

For example, one of SocialCode’s largest consumer brand clients used digital to conduct an a/b test that revealed people with no relationship to the brand converted far more efficiently when presented with a discount versus having to pay full price. However, these same offers had a very low impact on existing customers – valuable feedback when segmenting future campaigns.

  1. Use CRM To Dig Deeper

Brands can employ the social space to proactively message their existing audience and pre-test content. 63% of CMOs polled do not use digital advertising to better understand the audiences within their customer database – but this number is predicted to change as marketers leverage existing integration platforms and gain more control over their data.

Heineken recently used this strategy to create content for a soccer sponsorship. They effectively fused CRM and advertising by using their existing customer list to test different message versions. By doing this, they were not only interacting with their actual customers, but using customer behavior to tweak future content for a better outcome.

This strategy resulted in Heineken having an effective way to test content with their real audience and provided scale at a lower cost than quantitative focus groups.

  1. Remember To Elevate Your Customers

While hyper-segmentation and data research certainly have their benefits, one major opportunity with turning to digital first, is allowing your customers to be brand ambassadors. You can do this by listening to your online followers and elevating the content they create for your brand.

For example, after segmenting consumers into ‘The Bro’s’ and ‘The No’s’, Patron realized that their online users love sharing stories, regardless of their segment. By engaging with these stories, Patron accumulated over 1M user generated Instagram posts and soared to the #1 spot on Twitter – without ever segmenting their marketing efforts.

With digital, the consumers become your marketers. By tuning in online first, your brand can hone in on creative messages that resonate with your audience across multiple channels.

To start, take stock of your current data and put in place a strategy for a digital-first approach on your next campaign. This can be a difficult process, but finding the right mix of specialized staff members, workflow, technology and executive support will allow your team to tap into a treasure trove of actionable insights and customer feedback.


Read the full Solution Guide, here.

Insights and notes from the SocialCode session were contributed by Janice Loughman, Global Brand Management at Activision.