The Critical Importance of Data and Creative Best Practices to Drive Marketing Success

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Picture of Reid Holmes

Reid Holmes

Holmes has served at agencies including Doner, McCann, and Ogilvy & Mather; working with brands like H&R Block, Burger King, and Domino’s Pizza.

A few years back, I was out on a sailing trip with other dads and their young sons in the Gulf of Mexico. The afternoon wind had died, so our captain suggested we take down the big sails and try our luck catching some dinner. My son and I eagerly dropped in our lines and waited. And waited. And waited.

“Interesting thing about fishin,’” our captain said after at least an hour, “Do it long enough without a bite and you’re just drownin’ worms.”

Fishing is both art and science. So is marketing.

When you think about successful 1:1 marketing, fishing is an apt analogy. If you don’t have the data-driven insights to know where your best customers (fish) are and construct a creative offer (bait) for them to respond to, you’ll be doing the marketing version of drowning worms.

Since I started at IWCO Direct 10 months ago as Executive Creative Director, I’ve seen first-hand the discipline applied to properly balance data-driven insights and creative best practices. So many direct marketers take the “spray and pray” approach. Like dropping multiple lines in the water where, if you had good data, you’d know there are no fish there to catch.

Or conversely, your data shows a lot of fish, but the bait you’re using is of no interest to them. Mountains of marketing budgets have been set ablaze in this business of drowning marketing worms. Without the proper balance of data science and creative best practices, well…let’s just say worms can get really expensive when they’re not driving results.

Other marketers think effectiveness is a numbers game. Just put more lines in the water. They look at metrics like cost per thousand (CPM). “If it’s cheap enough, I can drop in so many lines I’m bound to get a bite!” But the correct metric, the only one that really matters, is “cost per acquisition (CPA).” CPA is built on confidence. CPM is built on hope. And as it has been said many times, “hope is not a strategy.”

One properly placed and well-baited line can out-perform hundreds that are not. It’s more efficient and cost effective. With the cost of paper increasing in recent months, it’s never been more critical to be efficient with targeting and effective with messaging.

Data-Driven Insights and Creative Best Practices Should Always Work Together

At IWCO Direct, data and creative work arm-in-arm. Only after a deep analysis of multiple sources of data to define target sets and build statistically sound testing cohorts has been done do we apply creative best practices. Get these things right and you’re perpetually driving down cost and driving up results. More catching, less fishing.

Oh, and if you’re wondering, we ended up puttering our sailboat back in under engine power and making a taco run. While a beautiful day out on the water with your kids is a win no matter how you look at it, I did suggest to the captain that he invest in a fish finder. No word on if he ever did.

Need help creating effective direct marketing strategies that drive success? Reach out to the experts at IWCO Direct. We’re here to help.

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