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What Kind of Psychology Is Data-driven Marketing Actually Teaching Us?

What Kind of Psychology Is Data-driven Marketing Actually Teaching Us? -1

As of lately, there is a movement advocating that soon, the world of marketing as we know it might regress to the state it was in during the golden age of traditional marketing. Furthermore, they reject the idea of data-driven marketing industry as an ultimate tool of corporate outreach and speak firmly in favor of the old-fashioned ‘Mad Men’ approach.

In other words, they claim that in order to create an effective marketing campaign, one has to rely on the power of layman psychology, rather than raw data. Now, what’s wrong with this particular approach is the fact that it dismisses one simple truth – data-driven marketing is on its own a powerful psychological tool. How so? Well, just because it simulates a basic academic research in more than one way.

Here’s what data-driven marketing can actually teach us about the basic psychology of an average consumer.

The sheer power of numbers

One of the major problems with the so-called intuitive psychology is the fact that it is highly subjective and… well, non-scientific. Sure, some people are good at reading other people’s desires but even studying dozens and hundreds of clients don’t give you a large enough sample to draw major conclusions.

A great example of how this works can be seen in archeology and the history of our image about Neanderthals. While this species was discovered in 1856, its image formed for the next 8 years, until in 1864 it was finally named and described as Homo neanderthalensis. Through an unfortunate turn of events, one of the first remains of Neanderthals ever found belonged to a specimen that suffered from a rare bone disease, which resulted in a distorted image about what the entire species looked like.

Of course, their limbs, noses, skull-shapes, and chests were somewhat different than our own but seeing as how anthropologists and historians worked on a small corpus one deformed skeleton heavily influenced their conclusions. This resulted in the distorted image of an average Neanderthal that would stick for ages to come.

The way in which it relates to a data-driven marketing is the fact that it amasses a huge number of samples, opinions, features, and metrics to be analyzed. In this way, the results are much more conclusive, and the margin of error is much smaller. Even the most experienced traditional marketer worked with hundreds or thousands of survey participants, whereas big data works with samples, which count hundreds of thousands and millions. This is the so-called power of the quantitative marketing.

Dealing with multiple channels

What Kind of Psychology Is Data-driven Marketing Actually Teaching Us? -2


According to web design and marketing experts behind GWM, another reason why data-driven marketing is so vital to the understanding of your consumers because of the modern business world exists in a multi-channel plain. People respond differently to emails and pop-up chatboxes or IM messages. Furthermore, the same ad can leave a different impression on them depending on the page it appears on, however, things go even further, and the very position of the ad might alter the impact it has on the user.

Actionable information based on behavioral psychology

For instance, one survey has discovered that the left side of the screen receives much more attention than the right side. In fact, the data goes a bit more specific in claiming that the area at about 400 pixels off the left margin of the screen is the absolute hotspot of the user attention. As you can see this kind of data helps reveal a vital aspect of the behavioral psychology of an average customer. Most importantly, this is an actionable information, seeing how it shows precisely, where to display the website element that you want your audience to see first.

Apart from this, it also reveals some subtle differences in the preference of your audience. For example, one study regarding the efficiency of different call-to-action (CTA) buttons revealed that a red button has a 21 percent greater click-through-rate than its green counterpart. In a world where everything is context-determined and abstract, a simple, clean-cut advice to go with red instead of green can be invaluable.

The counter-arguments

Ultimately, it simply would not be fair not to examine the counter-arguments and pay a bit closer attention to the data-driven marketing. The first thing that a lot of people argue against is the ability of software actually to interpret the data collected in the right way. You see, unrefined data may carry a great potential, but it is useless until analyzed and interpreted.

Apart from this, some argue that the data-driven approach to marketing might soon suppress any creativity. Henry Ford once claimed that if he had asked people what they want, they would ask for faster horses and that he would have never entered into the automobile industry in the first place. You see, the entire history of the human race can be described as the advancement in leaps, which happen once a brilliant mind comes up with a revolutionary idea. The problem with data-driven marketing is that it can only analyze what’s already there and that it can never come up with a creative, outside-of-the-box approach of its own.

It is more than apparent that a data-driven marketing has its benefits, as well as that the fears regarding it are not completely unjustified. Luckily, there is no need for these two opposing forces to struggle for all eternity. Instead of looking at a data-driven marketing as something capable of replacing the traditional (creative) marketing, as we know it, we should look at it as a tool, a means to an end.

In other words, instead of replacing social marketers or trying to compete with brilliant people behind some of the most memorable marketing campaigns, data-driven marketing can become their greatest asset. To make the long story short, it can give them the additional punch they need in order to unleash their full potential. In this way, data-driven marketing becomes highly effective and a unique psychological method utilized in the present day business world.


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