At first glance, it might seem that marketers and artists don’t have a lot in common. The former promotes or sells products while the latter portrays the world as they see it. But here’s the link: both are keen observers of people.

Just as a painter doesn’t rely on one colour to bring their work to life, marketers must use multiple datasets to create a detailed canvas of their own. Targeting is about directing the right message to the right person, at the right time. To achieve this, businesses must have an in-depth picture of their customers.

Overcoming data anxiety

With so much customer information readily accessible, it can be a daunting task for any marketer to decide what they’re supposed to do with it all. It is like staring at a blank canvas and not being sure where to apply the first brushstroke. This can lead to data anxiety – a term coined to describe the inertia which can affect us when presented with so much information.

The answer is to take a step back and stop feeling as if you must use every available scrap of data. Focus instead on your objective, what you are trying to achieve and what information you need to do this.

Quality data

Marketing campaigns are only as effective as the data that informs them. Great artists are discerning, using the materials they need, which they have identified as suitable for what they are working on and marketers need to be equally selective.

When building a campaign based on customer segments, that segmentation must be based on solid, accurate and complementary information – drawn from all relevant data sources and customer touchpoints. Everything from transactional, deomograhic, derived and behavioural data can be included but only if it accurately adds to the understanding. Ultimately, campaigns that are based on poorly combined data won’t deliver results.

Choosing the most effective blend of customer intelligence will largely depend on the long and short-term nature of the marketing campaign. For example, if your objective is acquisition, you might analyse the profiles that represent your “best” customers. From this evaluation, you gain real insight into who you should be targeting, and where they’re coming from. Then, like any great artist, you can decide what it is you want to create and how best to articulate it.

The single customer view

It would be difficult for an artist to paint an accurate portrait without studying the likeness they’re trying to capture. Similarly, a marketer cannot build a detailed picture of their customers without understanding their attributes and bringing that information together to form a whole.

The “single customer view” is complete and holistic representation of a customer, where all available data is sorted and consolidated into a usable view. By having a single point of reference, marketers can effectively manage their data and quickly build better-targeted campaigns.

From a customer’s perspective, this will also mean more relevant communications, where and when they want them. For example, if they had recently provided a positive review they are likely to be highly receptive to receiving a further communication or offers – especially if their feedback is acknowledged.

Individuality and personalisation

Like artists, skilled marketers see more than just what’s on the surface. They understand and recognise our motivations, our desires and our dislikes and they use this insight to great effect. Personalisation is more than just tailored emails. It’s about knowing when your target audience will be most receptive to a piece of marketing, creating content based on their preferences and delivering personalised communication via the channel they prefer. Marketers need to have a genuine understanding of their audience and it is the single customer view is an essential part of the marketeer’s toolkit.

Of course, achieving such a thorough understanding of your audience is not easy, even with access to data such as demographics, spending habits and attitudes and by utilising analytics tools such as Google Analytics. But by setting an objective, drawing from multiple sources of data, segmenting effectively and examining consumers’ behaviour and attributes, marketers can develop detailed, insightful portraits of their customers.


By Ryan Shannon, commercial director at Indicia

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