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What’s the difference between data-driven and people-based marketing?

  • 3 min read

These terms will ultimately shape the future of your marketing, so let’s look at how they sit together and what they mean for organisations.

What is people-based marketing?

First up, it’s important to understand that people-based and data-driven aren’t in opposition to each other. It’s possible to be data-driven without being people-based. On the other hand, you can’t be people-based without being data-driven.

People-based marketing is about connecting with individuals rather than their devices or cookies. If data-driven marketing is about gathering as much information as you can about a consumer, people-based marketing is about truly knowing the individual who generated that data.

It’s also about using data in intelligent ways: people-based marketing can be seen as a response to over-use of what data can give. As Paula Bacariza, Director of Business Development at Appnexus, said during a panel session on the subject at RampUp On The Road London: “We’ve exhausted cookies and are finished with retargeting like crazy. We’re trying to do it better by following the individual not the environment. It’s about understanding the consumer’s journey and knowing what to say at what point to influence their decisions.”

When does the approach work best?

You need to know the outcome you want before you start and put a framework in place to meet this outcome. You can work out the KPIs. You can understand the data you’ll need to gather to execute the strategy and the technology you need to have in place. Perhaps most importantly, you’ll be able to measure the value so you have the business case the C-Suite, in particular the CFO, will need to see.

People-based marketing delivers most value when it’s embraced by the whole company. There are plenty of times when a maverick marketing manager can seize a new way of working and deliver proof of concept results that can then be rolled out across an entire company. But because the success of a people-based marketing approach depends on a seamless customer journey, the best results are achieved when it’s mandated from the C-Suite.

What are the challenges of people-based marketing?

A truly people-based marketing approach requires a holistic view of a customer. But the internet is currently a series of walled gardens, which means achieving this level of insight remains an aspiration for the time being.

In the meantime, we can take people-based marketing to be a company or brand-level approach. But even here, a lack of collaboration can be seen as the biggest barrier. Organisations are typically set up to work in silos, not follow the customer journey. Further, information is often siloed too – product usage data doesn’t always inform marketing or advertising campaigns, for example. And offline and online experiences are often completely separate. The biggest challenge, therefore, is to break all these silos and embrace a new way of working.

What are the opportunities on offer?

There is no doubt that GDPR has had a big impact on marketing in the past year. But it’s easy to see it was the wake-up call we needed as an industry to be more responsible and thoughtful about the way we use data. Understanding how to give consumers control of their data and making sure we’re offering a fair exchange is the right approach. It’s also an exciting one.

RampUp on the Road, London

RampUp on the Road, London brought together 300 industry leaders across brands, agencies, publishers, platforms and data providers to discuss digital marketing and the latest tech trends.

Here’s what happened.