heidi bullockIn the age of big data, predictive analytics, and real-time personalization, marketing has become both a left- and right-brain profession. Modern advertising needs a healthy balance of creativity and technological proficiency to prosper. Creative marketers have access to more data on their customers than ever before, plus a myriad of technology solutions to help make sense of this data—but connecting these dots can be daunting.

We sat down with Heidi Bullock, VP of Demand Generation at Marketo, to get her perspective on the latest innovations in ad tech, and how to create ad creative that inspires.

How do you find the balance between data-driven strategy and emotionally driven concepts?

Heidi: Emotionally driven concepts and a data-driven strategy can go hand-in-hand. A richly designed concept is important—but how do you know if it addressed the intended marketing goal? Marketers need the ability to listen and respond to understand which concepts are most effective. Marketers need data to understand if a) the campaign was really emotional for the target audience (i.e., not just the ad agency), and b) did it help achieve the business goal? A great ad concept can be leveraged across various channels, and we now have the ability to understand the overall campaign performance, in addition to particular channel performance (e.g., mobile drove more conversions than social).

What are the top three ingredients for ad creative that amazes and inspires?

Heidi: It is really important to understand the persona first— because what amazes and inspires a 40-year-old woman in California may not be the same for a 40-year-old woman in New York. If the persona is well understood, the top three ingredients for ad creative that amazes and inspires are:

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  1. Visually compelling. Does the imagery stand out and resonate with the audience?
  2. Impactful The copy AND visual has to hit a chord with the potential buyer that really speaks to them—meaning did it inspire, educate, or entertain?
  3. Simple. People have to get the message FAST.

How does data help you tell stories and connect with customers?

Heidi: Data is critical because it helps you truly understand your customer. Today, it’s more important than ever before to have the ability to listen to your customer across all channels and understand behavior—not just what they say on a form or survey. It is great if you can incorporate buyer intent data into your personas. You can also get immediate feedback on what is working. For example, marketers can leverage marketing automation solutions like Marketo to send communications based on real buyer intent behavior. You can easily see what someone responds to. It is a great way to be targeted and personal and ensure you really know your buyer.

When you really understand what your customer likes, dislikes, worries about, gets excited about,  you can develop more of a personal and relevant conversation with your buyer.

What’s the number one measure of an awesome marketing campaign?

Heidi: The number one measure of an awesome marketing campaign is if it hits or exceeds the goals you set. Ideally you are clear about the goals from the start. For example, by running this ad campaign, the team aims to increase average pageviews on our key product page from three to six by the end of the year, which will result in an X percent increase in conversion. The goals can vary from increasing loyalty, to re-activating buyers, etc., but a good campaign means it was effective in reaching those goals.

How important is personalization to your advertising campaigns?

Heidi: Personalization is critical today—and buyers expect it. For example, just because I am a female in my early 30s does not mean I love clothes; my behavior may indicate I like tools and building projects, and buyers want marketers to know that. It is also an exciting time for personalization. Marketers have talked about 1:1 marketing for 20 years—but now it’s becoming real. For example, Marketo’s Ad Bridge makes digital advertising more personal by connecting Marketo’s marketing insights with Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and more. Now marketers can effectively target audiences based on who they are, their stage in the buyer journey, and their individual behavior over time to deliver more personalized digital ads.

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Want to hear more creative tips from top industry leaders? Marketing experts from Zendesk, Jonathan Adler, and Publicis talk creative innovation in our latest guide: Big Data and Big Ideas