Why your brand's destiny lies in the data

What if... As a chief marketer, these are two of the most powerful words in my arsenal. They represent the kernel of imagination that leads to a testable hypothesis and raise the questions that push us to find clarity in mountains of data.

Why your brand's destiny lies in the data

Every conversation we have with our customers, from travel tips in an online lifestyle blog to a Google search, the subject line of an email newsletter or a pop-up video ad on their phone, all starts with questioning. Then comes testing, measuring and improving. Technology is changing marketing.

Travel is a crowded marketplace. Consumers have a dizzying array of choice, with impossibly turquoise waters on their Instagram feeds and alluring stories of adventure from vloggers on YouTube vying for their attention at every swipe of their finger. With our smartphones attached to us at all times, we crave choice, transparency, instant gratification and the ability to search and book from anywhere, at any time. So how do you keep cutting through? 

The world is moving faster. Consumers are continuing to demand more, and new brands are stepping up to the plate to feed their voracious appetites

You have to be agile. Successful brands are continuously learning, and reinventing their approach to keep pace. Being present and relevant to consumers requires mastery of a range of skills, from storytelling to data science to automated bidding expertise. In the marketing world, you have to get smarter all the time – every day. You have to adjust your marketing mix constantly to suit your new and ever-evolving audiences. It’s still about finding the right message for the right customers at the right time, but the channels are changing so fast, savvy marketers have to be brave enough to pivot dramatically in the moment if that’s what the data tells you.

Data scientists are the most sought-after collaborators in this new marketing reality. It’s not enough to simply monitor the metrics and rely on the insights of others. You need to own your data destiny and leverage the invaluable real-time insights that are available. At Booking.com, we’ve brought these analytical skills in-house to increase our velocity. 

The process of data-driven experimentation never ends in our creative process, whether it’s a Facebook ad or a TV spot. When we get a strong signal that something is resonating with our audience, we let the data lead us to the next creative iterations that will drive the most value from that concept – or take us in a completely new direction. The more of this expertise we keep in house, the faster we can execute, experiment, measure, analyse and iterate. 

The world is moving faster. Consumers – including me – are continuing to demand more, and new brands are stepping up to the plate to feed their voracious appetites. Be brave. Ask yourself "what if" and let the data be your guide.

Pepijn Rijvers is the chief marketing officer of Booking.com

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