For most of its history, colleagues regarded marketing and marketers as being a bit fuzzy—using soft metrics, or often none at all—in crafting images, messages, brand promises, and promotional themes for their wares. Some of that was understandable; it really is hard to quantify what happens inside a customer’s head. And the business contribution of feel-good messaging, while generally pleasant and almost always inoffensive, is difficult to justify at budget time.
The coming of age of digital media and associated customer targeting methods opened up new possibilities. Marketing departments could now start using data and analytics more easily and effectively. They could manage customer contact databases, deploy lead management programs, launch campaigns, and begin to measure their results.
At first, there wasn’t much data available to use or measure. For all but the largest companies, data consisted of purchased lists of contact names for direct mail or telemarketing drives, and measurement was limited to counting contacts or responses.
Then everything changed. The mid-1990s saw the launch of AOL, the World Wide Web, e-mail, mobile phones, and new web directories like AltaVista and Yahoo! The availability of data exploded overnight in the suddenly interconnected worlds of media and marketing. We could track and count web visits, monitor and analyze e-mail clicks, and purchase, track, and test new online media such as banner ads.
Old-school, “right ...