There are many aspects of life for which a proactive outlook is prescribed: health, homework, saving for retirement. Yes, for those with ambitious natures, a proactive outlook is the essential tenet of success. “Be proactive” is even the first habit outlined in Stephen R. Covey’s bestselling book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
We believe “Be proactive” is also the #1 habit of highly effective marketers.
The simplest definition of proactive is “acting in anticipation of future problems, needs, or changes.” It is a means of applying foresight to your efforts to think and act ahead of anticipated events. But proactive marketing is more than just a mindset.
Proactive marketing is an analytical approach that allows marketers to be agile, real-time, data-driven, and adaptable to the ever-changing needs and wants of both current and future customers. It encompasses all forms of marketing, and focuses on building strategies with a detailed understanding of a campaign’s audience, impact, and metrics for success — before executing the actual campaign.
First and foremost, proactive marketing is built upon a long-term strategy. That might sound obvious, but the number of marketing operations that are flying blind without a long-term strategy is staggering.
According to Content Marketing Institute’s 2014 B2C Content Marketing Report, less than half of all B2C marketers have a documented content strategy.
In the comparable report for B2B marketers, Content Marketing Institute’s research found that while only 44% of B2B marketers have a documented content strategy, those that do are “more effective and less challenged with every aspect of content marketing.”
And with half of content marketers creating content without a rudder, the budgetary wastes on ineffective campaigns are tantamount. Adobe conducted a study of 1,004 U.S. marketers and found that 49% of marketers report “trusting my gut” to guide decisions on where to invest their marketing budgets. Budgetary concerns are a common source of stress for marketers, particularly because a budgetary increase typically comes with the added pressure of more leads and proven ROI. So under all of this budgetary pressure, why are half of all marketers spending their dollars on hunches?
Proactive marketing runs counter to this trend of aimless content creation, and it is the complete antithesis of the “throw things at the wall and see what sticks” approach. With the right data at her disposal, a proactive marketer can predict which content will drive traffic, which channels will yield the greatest return on investment, and which ad campaigns will most effectively capture qualified leads.
Proactive vs. Reactive Analytics: Avoiding The Marketing Blind Spot
Marketers often approach data from a reactive stance. Many marketers will execute campaigns and then turn to data and metrics to assess their performance. But by the time you’ve analyzed all the data and scored your last campaign, your next campaign is already in motion. This delay in analysis created a blind spot for marketers, during which they have no insight into what’s working and what isn’t.
Last fall, Adobe conducted a study among U.S. marketers titled Digital Distress: What Keeps Marketers Up at Night? The study revealed a staggering crisis of confidence in digital marketing, with only 9% of respondents expressing confidence that their digital marketing tactics are working.
This lack of confidence in campaign effectiveness stems largely from a retrospective approach to tracking one’s marketing metrics. Marketing has become more real-time and metrics-focused, and employing the help of a few key tools can help you manage and interpret your data with a forward-looking approach. Looking at your campaign performance in a reactive sense is no longer the most productive way to prepare your long-term strategies. With proactive marketing, you can harness the power of your data to project trends in your industry and adjust to your audience’s key pain points.
Taking A Proactive Approach To Marketing Data
For proactive marketers, metrics are not a scoring rubric. To your competitors, the predictive power of your data should make it seem like your CMO has a crystal ball. That’s because the more information marketers have at their fingertips, the more effectively they can gauge the success of their strategy.
In practice, being proactive means benchmarking in real-time, analyzing data on the fly, and optimizing your campaigns for higher overall brand value. It’s a mode of using data to see what will contribute to positive growth, instead of reacting to data indicating your last campaign’s success of failure.
A proactive approach to data offers a real competitive advantage in today’s marketing landscape. Last fall, StrongView conducted a survey in tandem with SENSORPRO to understand business leaders’ marketing challenges and priorities for 2014. This 2014 Marketing Trends Survey found that leveraging data is one of the biggest roadblocks for marketers, with “data quality, latency and lack of strategy being the biggest inhibitors.”
Also notice in the above infographic that 15% of respondents reported a lack of strategy for leveraging data, while 16% reported a challenge in acting on analytical insights. Again, these statistics show that a surprising number of marketers don’t know how to connect the dots between the data they are gathering and the tactical insights they can infer from it. With that in mind, marketers with a strong working knowledge of their own data as a real-time feedback loop for their longterm strategies will find themselves outpacing their competition by leaps and bounds.
So, to tie all of these stats together, a proactive approach to data gives marketers a longitudinal view of their competitive landscape, a dynamic understanding of their baseline metrics, and the analytical confidence to innovate within their campaign strategies. Still not convinced that proactive marketing could change your life? Let us spell out the benefits of a proactive marketing approach even further:
- Minimize campaign failure
- Stretch your marketing budget farther
- Identify and engage the target audience more efficiently
- Build and maintain strong brand awareness and loyalty
- Improve competitive positioning
- Spot and address gaps in your data collection
- React nimbly to change and innovations
Want more proactive marketing tactics? Download our COLOSSAL CONTENT MARKETING REPORT for data on optimizing headlines, blogging frequency, and social shares by channel.