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What is Data-Driven Marketing? Definitions, Examples and Best Practices

12 min

Turn back the clock two decades back and you will see TV ads, radio ads, and newspaper ads ruling the roost. Fast forward to today, all of these marketing strategies are no longer relevant as people are spending more time online than offline.

Technology and data are two of the main catalysts driving this information revolution. For marketers who are already collecting, analyzing, understanding, and identifying useful insights from that data, data-driven marketing is a breath of fresh air as marketing decisions will be driven by facts and figures not gut feelings anymore.

In this article, you will learn everything about data driven marketing from definitions and examples to best practices and how it influences marketing automation and personalization.

What is data-driven marketing?

Data-driven marketing is a process of extracting actionable insights from previous customer interactions and engagement to predict future consumer behavior and identify user preferences. In simple terms, data-driven marketing is all about converting data into actionable marketing decisions, streamlining marketing processes and catering to the ever-changing needs of different segments of customers.

According to data driven marketing statistics,

  • Data driven marketing that harnesses the power of data-driven personalization can increase the ROI of your marketing campaigns by 5-8x
  • 40% of organizations is planning to increase their data-driven marketing budget
  • 64% of CMOs thinks that data driven strategies are pivotal in today’s digital economy

The core objective of data driven marketing is to enhance and personalize the customer experience. What makes data-driven marketing so effective is that it targets the most important factor influencing purchase decisions: customer experience. Better customer experience can increase your revenue, give you a competitive advantage, improve brand loyalty and even enhance employee engagement.

Here are some of the statistics that prove it:

  • 84% of companies who improved their customer experience managed to increase their revenue
  • 81% of companies consider customer experience as a competitive differentiator
  • 75% customer experience executives rank customer experience as the most important thing for their business
  • 73% of consumers thinks that a great customer experience can influence their brand loyalty
  • Businesses that excel at customer experience have 1.5 times more engaged employees as compared to businesses that do not prioritize customer experience

See how to use data-driven marketing automation across the customer lifecycle.

Advantages of data-driven marketing

Here are some of the advantages of data driven marketing that your business should know about.

  • Understand customer needs and pain points
  • Personalized messaging and highly targeted campaigns
  • Improve the customer experience
  • Boost customer engagement
  • Target the right customers
  • Know what is working and what is not

Learn more about the importance of data for marketing straight from GetResponse’s CMO – Ola Korczynska on our podcast!

Things to keep in mind when analyzing data

Here are things that you need to consider when analyzing data:

  • Sample size
  • Customer context
  • Channels
  • Minor Details
  • Tools

Sample size

If you’re planning to base your marketing decisions on data, make sure you go for a large sample size. Decisions based on a smaller sample are generally inaccurate because it doesn’t show you the complete picture. With a large sample size at your disposal, you can draw accurate conclusions and make the right marketing decisions.

Customer context

Laura Rueckel, Director of Integrated Marketing at Coca-Cola North America Chapter suggests that marketers need to ask these three questions to get a better idea about customer context:

  1. Where does the customer receive your message?
  2. What emotional state your customer is in?
  3. Are they in a hurry or in a relaxed state when viewing your message?

As a data-driven marketer, you need to go beyond that and dig deeper to identify why customers buy a particular brand or product over and over again. You will need actionable insights that tell you why your customers are not behaving in the way you expect them to. All this will help you in designing hyper targeting marketing campaigns which deliver your message at the right time and right place.

Here some of the key elements of customer context data includes:

  • Location
  • Weather
  • Time
  • Browsing history
  • Cart abandonment


Every marketing channel is different and has its own impact. If you look at every channel separately, it will not show you a complete picture. Instead of analyzing every marketing channel data in isolation, you should adopt a holistic approach to marketing data analysis. By looking at a big picture, you can not only trace the entire buyer’s journey, help marketers improve the marketing mix and enable the sales team with useful insights.

Minor details

The fancy pie chart or the popular bar graph might look cool but sometimes, you can unearth hidden gems in comments, reviews, customer feedback and survey responses. Sadly, most businesses are so preoccupied with these visualizations that they fail to take full advantage of valuable customer feedback.

Check out 7 Lessons to Learn from Unhappy Customers to see how you can turn even negative feedback into profit.


No matter how good your analytics tools might be, you should not solely rely on them. Why? Because these tools don’t always give you accurate results. Each analytics tool will show you different results and has their own strengths and weaknesses. This would be even more apparent when your data is coming from multiple sources. Even tools like Google Analytics have inconsistencies that could skew your data. That is why it’s important to choose your analytics tool wisely.

What are the challenges of data-driven marketing and how to overcome them?

Here are some of the biggest challenges of data driven marketing and how to overcome them:

  • Integrating data from multiple sources
  • Poor and inconsistent data
  • Extracting actionable data from unstructured data
  • Tracking the right metrics
  • Lack of right tools

Integrating data from multiple sources

With data coming from multiple sources in different formats, it becomes a daunting challenge to integrate all that data, let alone make sense out of it. That is where data cleaning comes into play and helps you overcome this issue. It’s a process of preparing data for analysis by eliminating inaccurate, incomplete and redundant data into the mix.

Poor and inconsistent data

Did you know that 64% marketers consider improving data quality as one of the biggest challenges when personalizing messaging for their target audience? If you want to overcome low quality data challenges, you need to create a process to keep your data up-to-date and remove inconsistencies.

Extracting actionable insights from unstructured data

According to expert estimation, 80-90% of all data collected by organizations is unstructured. What’s even worse is that unstructured data is growing in volume faster than the structured data. How can you stop and reverse this vicious cycle? More importantly, how can you extract actionable insights from large amounts of unstructured data?

Actionable insights help you identify correlations, patterns and relationships between different data sets. In short, it helps you develop a better understanding of your marketing objectives. You can use a data visualization tool and minimize the time required to make sense out of large data sets.

Tracking the right metrics

With businesses collecting so much data, it becomes difficult for them to decide what metrics to track and which ones to let go. Make sure every metric you track has a purpose. Here is a step-by-step you can follow in order to track the right key performance indicators.

  • Start by focusing on your organization’s goal
  • Prioritize data points that contribute towards those goals
  • Develop a plan to re-evaluate your metrics
  • Add new metrics and remove older ones

One thing you should be aware of are vanity metrics. They might look impressive at first but do not influence your marketing goals and objectives. Vanity metrics don’t represent the true success or failure of your business and can easily be changed or manipulated.

Lack of right tools

You might be wondering if lack of leadership support and involvement as well as the budget constraints could be a bigger problem for marketers but lack of the right tools is an even bigger issue. In fact, having the wrong tools is the mother of all the aforementioned challenges. From poor data integration to contradictory reports to inability to extract actionable insights from data sets, your tools can make or break your marketing.

Create a single source of truth where all the team members can find common ground on data. For that to happen, you will have to spend time on identifying which tools are best for you and which ones are not worth it. With the right tools at your disposal, you can easily convert raw data into actionable insights and drive your marketing strategy to success.

Examples of data-driven marketing

To give you a better idea about how data driven marketing is done, let us look at some of the examples.


Netflix knows how to use data to their advantage. Whether it’s using external data from social media as input to divert their marketing budgets or using user past viewing history to recommend content that they might be interested in. In fact, its AI powered recommendation engine which uses user data to offer a personalized experience has helped Netflix save $1 billion each year.

Back in 2016, Netflix fired some tweets about a Gilmore Girls new season to test the waters. When they realized that every tweet about the season is gaining a lot of traction, they found a lot of people are interested in this show. They took things to the next level by recreating the famous Luke’s Diner in different cities to cash in on the season release.


Coca-Cola is using data-driven marketing to improve customer retention rate. In 2015, they even launched a digital loyalty program to keep their existing customer base engaged. Reflecting on the role of data play in Coca-Cola’s marketing and customer retention, Justin De Graaf, who was the director of strategy and precision marketing back then said in one of his interviews, “Data plays an increasingly important role in marketing and product development. Data is also helping us to create more relevant content for different audiences. We are working hard to use data to produce branded content that aligns with people’s passion.  We are focusing on creating advertising content that speaks differently to different audiences.”


DirectTV leveraged demographic data to send highly targeted, personalized marketing messages which helped them increase the ROI and grow their user base. By analyzing many different data points, the company managed to target a new customer segment which consisted of customers who have recently moved to a new home.

DirectTV data-driven marketing example.

They identified that customers who relocate to a new home are more likely to switch service providers. By harnessing the power of the United States Postal Service data, DirectTV created a personalized version of home page specifically to target website visitors who have recently changed their home address.

This British online retailer took data-driven marketing to a whole new level by personalizing offers based on weather data. They started comparing customer information with weather data to identify the right products for the customers. By using data driven marketing, they were able to recommend products based on weather in customer’s location. Here is what their page might look like on a rainy day. data-driven marketing example.

How to create a winning data-driven marketing strategy?

Here is a step-by-step process of creating a successful data-driven marketing strategy.

1. Set your goal

What do you want to achieve with your data driven marketing? Do you want to attract new customers or want to retain existing customers? Do you want to retarget customers who have abandoned your website or want to send personalized messages to deliver a tailor-made customer experience? Answering all these questions will give you a clear direction to move in with your marketing strategy.

2. Collect the right data

Collecting the right data will help you make the right marketing decisions at the right time. Divert all your energy towards collecting data from data points which could help you personalize the customer experience and marketing messages. For this, you will have to look beyond traditional data sources and dip your toes into customer behavior and sales history.

Once you have collected the data, it is time to analyze. Here are some of the things you should keep in mind when analyzing data.

  • Understand user pain points
  • Identify user preferences and behavior
  • Choose a marketing channel where your target audience spends their time
  • Tell data driven stories to create a memorable brand
  • Keep an eye on competitor’s strategies

3. Take advantage of marketing automation

Marketing automation saves your time, helps you get the best out of your marketing budget and brings marketing and sales teams closer by strengthening their relationship. This increases efficiency of your marketing campaigns while helping you generate more qualified leads, convert them and achieve a higher return on your investment.

As with any other technology, you might face some resistance when you try to implement marketing automation in your company and here are some of the ways to overcome it:

  • Identify skill gaps and fill them
  • Get approval from key stakeholders
  • Share the workload
  • Invest in training
  • Target easy and quick wins
  • Follow the iterative model

Start off by defining your marketing automation goals. Next, choose a marketing automation platform according to your business needs. Consider factors such as ease of use, price, integrations and support when choosing a marketing automation solution for your company. Identify technical skills and expertise you need to implement marketing automation in your organization. Work on developing a plan and process so you know exactly what steps you need to achieve your goal. Instead of striving for big wins, start small and target low hanging fruits to keep you motivated throughout the journey.

With marketing automation, you can start sending personalized automated emails that meet your customers where they are.

4. Constantly test your strategy

The pace at which digital marketing is evolving forces marketers to constantly update their strategies and data driven marketing is no different. To evaluate whether your data driven marketing strategy is working or not, it’s important to continuously test your strategy. If it’s falling short of your goals, you need to tweak it and optimize it so it can deliver better results.

So, how do you use data-driven marketing, marketing automation and personalization to enhance the effectiveness of your digital marketing campaigns?