Poor communication is the root cause of most efficiency gaps between marketers and creatives. Increasing creative’s data literacy can change that.
Marketers and creatives have enjoyed a traditionally solid partnership, united by the shared goal of driving brand engagement. But the demand for more personalized, targeted, original content and campaigns have spiked in the digital era, widening the chasm between “data-driven” marketers and “design-driven” creatives as both sides feel the pressure to keep up. In fact, according to a recent Visually study, the word most often used to describes their relationship by today’s marketers and creatives is “frustrating”. What gives?
The Marketing-Creative Data Gap
If marketers and creatives are both charged with the same objectives—broader reach, better engagement, more revenue—and face the same industry pressures—deliver more, faster, without sacrificing quality or innovation—then why do so many feel like they inhabit completely separate worlds? One key reason: They don’t speak the same language.
When it comes to developing strategies, communicating objectives, and measuring success, data is hugely important to marketing. According to a recent Rapt survey, 59% of marketers say their top concern about creative content is how to gain deeper insight beyond clicks and views. 58% say it’s being able to accurately measure ROI. And yet, 77% of creatives say linking performance data with content is not important. That creates a disconnect.
How to strengthen the strategic alignment between marketing and creative isn’t exactly a new question, but it’s been a hot topic of industry chatter in recent years as both professions have become increasingly skilled and specialized. Gone are the days of the marketing generalist who was equal parts brand advocate, lead-generator, and PR expert. Today’s most successful marketers are experts in specific subsets of their field, be it content, social, digital, or demand. The same can be said of creatives, with more designers specializing in video or print or digital vs. broadly dabbling in it all. But with the marketing and creative industries continuing to develop in both intricacy and impact, bridging the gap between them is taking deeper knowledge and understanding. And with data increasingly at the foundation of everything marketers do, there’s growing frustration that their creative partners aren’t making measurability and analysis enough of a priority within their content production process. Meanwhile, creatives feel like order-takers and outsiders to the data-driven world of marketing instead of true strategic partners.
The Analytical Creative
So how do we change that? For starters, marketers and creatives need to overcome the perception that being data-driven and design-driven are mutually exclusive. Director of Demand Generation at Ceros, Brad Hess refers to demand generation as the modern blend of art and science.
“Data-driven marketing is a good thing—a necessary thing—but to truly connect with your audience on a human level, a balance must be struck between art and science,” he writes. “Without art, your brand’s marketing has no meaning. Without science, it has no direction.”
Balancing both sides is not always easy, admits Hess—whether that’s on an individual basis or within a larger campaign or strategy. But the truth is, both are vitally important to marketing and creative teams’ success.
“As a demand generation pro, half of me is a ‘creative,’ thinking up unique strategies and messages. The other half is purely scientific, calculating cost effectiveness, assessing lead funnel metrics, and running experiments to find incremental improvements,” he says. “Data tells you who your audience is, what they want, and where they are. Creativity is how you reach them.”
Marketing KPIs for Creatives
One of the best ways to achieve the golden mean between data and creative is to deepen the overlap between them. For creatives, that means increasing their understanding of how their marketing partners use data to deliver more effective creative content. Creative teams that have more accountability and better visibility into how marketing’s performance is measured are more effective, deliver more on-target content, and drive better results.
Marketing is fundamentally charged with capturing as many leads as possible, then slowly nurturing prospects through the purchasing decision, narrowing down candidates at each stage of the sales funnel. Analytical creatives possess a baseline understanding of KPIs at each of these stages, which makes them better equipped to support their marketing partners in meeting them.
Consumption & Engagement Metrics: Measure how interested and invested your audience is in your brand.
- Website: visits, pageviews, time on page/site, bounce rate, referral traffic
- Email: open rates, CTRs, unsubscribes
- Social: comments, likes, shares, followers
Conversion Metrics: Measure consumers or prospects driven from engage to purchase.
- B2B: conversion rates, lead to customer, appointments set from marketing
- B2C: unit volume increases, sign-ups for loyalty programs or store cards
Retention Metrics: Measure brand loyalty with audience and customers.
- B2B: annual renewal rates, annual M&S payments, cross-sell/up-sell, average account value
- B2C: repeat purchases, average spend per customer/households
Creative Productivity Metrics
While visibility into marketing’s KPIs is integral to bridging communication gaps, analytical creatives also own reporting on their own productivity metrics. Building a cadence of measuring and reporting on productivity KPIs enables creatives to give their marketing partners better visibility into bandwidth or resourcing limitations and fast-evolving project statuses. That, in turn, fosters accurate forecasting and clearer communication as both sides work together toward the same goals. Analytical creatives should own reporting on metrics in four main areas:
Team Resourcing: accurate understanding of how team members are spending time
Projects: kinds of work teams are working on; who work is being requested from; project lengths from initiation to completion the average number of rounds of approval; etc.
- Content throughput: volume of creative content produced over a given time
- Content backlog: average number of days between published creative content
- Time to publish: time it takes to move from an idea to a published piece of creative content
When creatives deepen their understanding of the critical role data plays in the world of their marketing partners, they’re able to bridge the communication gap between them and achieve the critical alignment needed to achieve loftier goals together.
To learn more about fostering stronger strategic partnerships, check out our on-demand webinar, How to Speak Marketing for Creatives.