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Know your audience. It’s the first rule of marketing, and it's still as important as ever. But to succeed in today’s age of assistance—when empowered consumers expect experiences designed exactly for their needs—you also have to get the timing right.

New research from Bain & Company in partnership with Google reveals how brands who show up with the right message in just the right moment are the ones finding pathways to growth and revenue. Business leaders refresh critical marketing metrics and dashboards more frequently, and prioritize integrated technology platforms to help make timely customer connections.

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Where do timely connections start? Inside the data. Marketers say that improved understanding and reaching the right customers is a top priority for achieving their marketing goals in the next three years.1 To gain a deeper understanding of customers, marketers first need to look at customer behavior patterns and trends, then take action to reach the right people just in time. That calls for the right platform.

Marketing leaders are 1.6X more likely than laggards to prioritize integrating technology, and they are 1.2X more likely to be advanced users of their technology,2 according to the Bain study. Integrated data and a powerful platform with built-in machine learning helps uncover user insights that lets marketers know exactly when to place compelling and relevant creative that gives it the best chance to succeed.

The Bain study shows that leaders (defined as the top 20% in a composite score of revenue and market share growth) share three other things in common.

1. Leaders think digital first

In the U.S., Adidas has made efforts to work more collaboratively across the digital landscape, and teams come together around a common use of digital information. Customer segmentation and technology help them take a customer-first approach to marketing. Chris Murphy, head of digital experience, describes the vision, “If you want to be truly consumer-centric, you have to think digital first. And, in order to do that, you’ve got to be data-driven.”  

Adidas uses audience insights to sequence its brand and e-commerce messages for maximum effect. Teams use a unified platform to work on campaigns together, sequencing messages carefully, and then testing and adjusting results.  

“What we’re hoping to do is provide the consumer with a more connected, personal, and relevant experience across the broader digital ecosystem,” Murphy said.

2. Leaders have more visibility and control

How did our ads appear? Were they effective? Which ones led to the biggest results? Control over investments and channels is the top benefit of integrated marketing and ad tech for leaders.3 They feel it’s essential to connect their customer information with how they buy media. Sometimes, that means bringing their marketing and ad tech in-house to be closer to the source. According to the Bain study, leaders were 1.4X more likely than laggards to manage technology within marketing today, and more expect to do so in the next three years.4

Rituals Cosmetics, a global cosmetics company operating in 27 countries, recently brought marketing technology management in-house. The team also uses dashboards with near-real time data to help guide digital decisions.

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“We are able to connect our advertising technology at the right point and make sure that we manage efficiency on a daily level, for the whole funnel and all the channels,” said digital director Martijn van der Zee.

“We still rely on the expertise of our agency partners, but more on the channel level, from search to email to programmatic display ads,” van der Zee said. “And that has remarkable results.”

The biggest learning? “When we began managing our ad technology and analytics in-house, we saw a relation between what we do in countries in terms of awareness and how that impacts performance-based channels like email and paid search,” van der Zee said. “This seems very obvious—but you can only see that when you have data to prove it.”

3. Leaders share the insights

Want your whole organization to embrace a data-driven mindset? Start by making insights accessible to all, for action by all. A unified platform makes reporting and action easier for everyone. Marketing leaders are 1.7X more likely to refresh their most critical marketing metrics and dashboards at least weekly.5

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The new path to growth

Connect your systems, gain control, and share the insights. Those are the three traits of how leading marketers use integrated technology to drive winning results: delivering the message at just the right time, whenever today's empowered consumers need it.

When you know your audience, you can also discover when to reach them. And that's the new path to growth.

To learn more about how leading marketers get the timing right, download the full Bain & Company report.