I recently attended a seminar on Marketing Science conducted by Blair Roebuck, the Vice President of Marketing Science at Valtech. Today, I learned about a new profession, Marketing Scientist. She started off by telling us that every business requires data and analytics for its operation. In layman’s terms, Marketing Science connects a business to the technology required to run it through the means of data. It is the amalgamation of its three pillars; Analytics and Data, Technology and Business. This is a booming industry, and there is a high demand for marketing scientists.
How does a Marketing Scientist operate?
A marketing scientist cannot operate in a silo within a firm. You’d say their job is to deal with the numbers and data, so they can do their job in isolation from anywhere as long as they are, well, analyzing. Blair explained how important it is for these analysts to be in sync with what the client is asking for. They have to meet with the client and their C-level executives to gather an understating of their business and the required data for them to work on. Marketing analysts work in a dynamic environment and often collaborate with developers, project managers, account managers and product owners.
Marketing Science and Personalization
As a more detailed science, Marketing Science focuses on data enrichment and engineering to narrow down want to measure by aligning it with business goals. It also dabbles in data visualization to present complex numbers in easily digestible dashboards. Finally, it ventures into SEO optimization and aims to provide a more personalized experience to the client’s customers.
Data Science can lead personalization in a whole new direction. For Rotman School of Management, Blair and her team were able to target prospective international students from different countries based on their geographical location from the same homepage. They customized it in a manner that whenever a user would visit the homepage, they would see the banner designed exclusively for students from that country.
This resulted in a 23% decrease in the bounce rate and a 14% increase in the ‘pages per visit’, which is brilliant. Data Science can further help identify where a customer or a persona is in their journey with a business and target them based on their specific needs at the time.
An immediate roadblock to this process is the absence of first-party data collection and first-party cookies. Businesses that are still unable to adapt to the emergence of collection of data firsthand, will lag behind those who have jumped into the bandwagon with gated content and loyalty programs.
Blair gave us an interesting case study to work on. We were given a database of an alcohol distributing business segmented across different categories. Then we were asked to establish data patterns, trends, correlations and suggest personalization and content ideas based on our findings. It was interesting to learn that even a little data can help you find common themes and outliers across your customers. Once you recognize these, it gets easier to target and cater to them. For example, if Caribbean countries have a high alcohol consumption, you could find ways to sell more of what is working there and do away with spirits that don’t usually sell in those areas.
This was an interactive session where one particular question caught my attention. An attendee asked how data visualization efforts put the needs of people with a disability first. In today’s time, we can’t ignore the fact that our workforce comprises people who come from different walks of life. It would be unfair and even wrong to not provide accessibility features for the ones with visual disabilities.
Blair quite interestingly pointed out they make sure that they adhere to all the accessibility requirements, like not using flashing images or bright colours. They even have a colourblind person on their team to ensure inclusivity. I would take this as a starting point for designing anything in future.
One thing that I’d take away from this seminar is that even if you are afraid of numbers, there are tools to help you out with them. There is no escaping them anymore. All business and marking efforts rely heavily on data and analytics. Even if one can’t do the calculations themselves, that’s okay. There will always be experts to do that job. You would still need to have a decent understating of them to get the job done or absorb what the others have calculated or analyzed. I emphasize this because I hate numbers like Blair, and I always run away from them. She taught me to face them and work my way around them.