Five smart data-driven marketing experiments

Published Feb 17 2023 7 minute read Last updated May 16 2023
data driven marketing experiments
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  • Sean Dougherty
    Written by Sean Dougherty

    A copywriter at Funnel, Sean has more than 15 years of experience working in branding and advertising (both agency and client side). He's also a professional voice actor.

Data plays a leading role in all aspects of life and should also be an integral part of your marketing strategy. A recent Nielsen survey found that respondents from companies of all sizes agree that first-party data is the most important piece of their digital media strategy. It's safe to say that if you're not harnessing the power of data-driven marketing, you're missing out. You are also likely to be left behind for companies that can meet and exceed their customer expectations, enhance customer loyalty, and precisely target new customers with a solid data collection strategy. 

We understand that incorporating data into your marketing strategy may not be as straightforward as it sounds. That's why it's important to start experimenting with data-driven marketing and testing advertising methods now. The more you experiment in advertising, the easier it will be to find the data-driven marketing strategy that works best for you. 

In this post, we will discuss five different ways to experiment and learn:

  1. Change bid strategies (in Google Ads)
  2. Change targeting
  3. Run an ad test with new creatives 
  4. Try new messaging
  5. Advertise on a new platform

What is data-driven marketing?

Businesses that use data-driven marketing strategies experience five to eight times as much ROI as businesses that don’t.

When marketing teams use big data to build their strategy, it's known as a data-driven marketing strategy. The data provides insights into customer preferences and market trends that will impact your marketing campaign. High-quality data enables brands to predict their customer's needs, wants, and future behavior, which helps them develop personalized marketing strategies that lead to a higher ROI.

Benefits of data-driven marketing

Enhance your marketing efforts with data-driven marketing and glean customer insights like never before. These are the benefits that data sources from this type of marketing provide:

  • Reach the right people through personalized and highly targeted campaigns.
  • Get to know your customers before they approach you, make a purchase, or realize they need you. That way, when they do reach that part of the funnel, you have exactly what they're looking for.
  • React quickly to consumer needs, wants, and fears.
  • Maximize your marketing budgets through more precise targeting.
  • Improve customer experience by providing relevant, engaging, valuable content, information, and products/services.

Five data-driven marketing experiments

Try out the following data-driven marketing experiments to start using the power of data to bolster your marketing strategy.

1. Change bid strategies

Start by changing your bid strategy. We recommend experimenting with automated bid strategies, which set bids for your ads based on the ad's likelihood to convert to a sale or a click. Unlike manual CPC bidding, automated bidding harnesses the power of data analysis and takes the guesswork out of bid-setting. You also won't have to worry about manually updating bids for specific ad groups or keywords.

  • The benefit of automated bidding is that you can optimize to your specific goal. For example, if you care more about traffic then there are bid strategies that will help to increase your click volume, whereas if you are more focused on conversions then pick a conversion centered strategy. Experiment with different kinds of automated bid strategy until you see improved performance in your KPIs. 

Smart bidding strategies use the following data to automatically set the bid:

  • Time of day
  • Specific ad being shown
  • User's device
  • User's location
  • Browser
  • Operating system

The best part about automated bid strategies is they learn as they go and use the data from a bid's performance to inform future bids.

The seven types of bid strategies you can experiment with on Google Ads are:

  1. Maximize clicks
  2. Target search page location
  3. Target outranking share 
  4. Target cost-per-acquisition (CPA)
  5. Enhanced cost-per-click (ECPC)
  6. Target return on ad spend (ROAS)
  7. Maximize conversions

2. Change targeting

If your campaigns are falling short, your target audience may be off. Why not experiment to see if there's an audience out there that you will resonate better with? Small tweaks to your target audience can completely change your campaign's trajectory.

Did you know that children started out as the target audience for McDonald's? However, once the "Super Size Me" documentary exposed McDonald's role in childhood obesity, the company drastically shifted its strategy in response. It moved the emphasis from Happy Meals and indoor play places to cheap and tasty food for families on a budget. Because 85 percent of Americans visit a McDonald's at least once a year, it's safe to say this retargeting campaign worked.

You can change your ad targeting by adjusting the audience in your ad platforms.

3. Run an ad test with new creatives 

Ad tests are a great way to get feedback from your target customers about the kinds of ads that compel them to make purchases and what ads they like — and don't like — to see. Use customer data to test creative strategies, including images, video, and audio.

Ad testing is an excellent data-driven marketing strategy to help you quantify the effectiveness of your ad. When you analyze audience reaction and response to your ads, you'll also be able to:

  • Evaluate your campaign's true impact.
  • Identify which ads you should use and iterate on.
  • Make any necessary adjustments to your current campaigns to ensure they are headed in the right direction.

To run an ad test, it is best to have multiple ad variants and run them against each other to understand how they are performing. Follow these steps to get started::

  1. Choose your creative and design the ad. Will you be testing the ad format? The copy or description? Or maybe the design itself?  Choose the creative element that you want to test and create multiple variants to launch.
  2. Choose which metrics to measure. .  You must know what you're measuring to test an ad successfully. Are you looking to generate engagement or sell your product? Traffic, replies, follows, clicks, or conversions are all possibilities to help understanding performance.
  3. Launch the test. There are two main ways to test creatives. Most ad platforms offer functionality to compare variants side by side and split the traffic evenly, this is known as an AB test. Alternatively, with a more automated structure, you can launch both variants and let the algorithm optimize to the best option. After a few weeks look into which has a higher volume and this is the one the algorithm prefers.

When creating the ad it can also be helpful to consider the following:

  • First impression
  • Did the ad stand out? Was there a "wow" factor?
  • Is your ad appealing? Do the testers like it? Does the message resonate with them?
  • Is your ad — and the intent behind it — clear?
  • Is the ad engaging? Does it hold people's attention? Or were they bored quickly and clicked away?
  • Is the ad relevant? Does the ad fit into the audience's lifestyle, wants, and needs?
  • Is there brand fit? Does the ad match your perceived brand image and align with your brand values?
  • Is there a strong call to action? Did the ad compel the viewer to make that action? How high is purchase intent after seeing the ad?

Rinse and repeat the above steps with different creative strategies until you hit the bullseye with the creative that gives your company the best customer experience, provides positive customer feedback, and surpasses customers' expectations.

Remember that even a failed test will provide your marketing teams with some learning and insight into customer behavior and allow you to tweak your data-driven marketing strategy.

4. Try new messaging

Once you reach your target audience, you must make sure your messaging is strong enough that your ad does what you intended it to — whether that's for them to sign up for a newsletter or email list or make a purchase. Your marketing message is pivotal in whether or not your ad lands with consumers. So, it's important to use customer data to help you figure out their problems and needs so that your ad can precisely show why they need a product or service like yours.

Consider the following tips when crafting your marketing messages:

  • Communicate clearly. Consumers are looking for solutions. It's your job to make it crystal clear that your company will meet those needs. Your messaging should always be about the customer and how you can help them, and never about your accolades. Always make it about them.
  • Create and follow a brand messaging framework. You already know that consistency is everything in marketing. The more consistently you show up where your target audience is, with consistent and predictable messaging, the easier it will be for them to recognize you, for your brand to build awareness, and for customers to begin to trust you — ultimately choosing you over the competition.
  • Stand out from the crowd by clearly stating how you're different (i.e. better) from the other guys. You want to do all you can to set yourself apart. 
  • Ensure your marketing messaging always aligns with your mission, vision, values, and goals. Ask your current clients to describe your product or service and what value they get from it. This helps you use the words your audience uses, relates to, and recognizes.

5. Advertise on a new platform

When in doubt, test out a new platform. There's no shortage of marketing platforms these days, so why not experiment with a new one while you're testing advertising methods? You may find that you didn't even know what you were missing and discover a hidden gem that takes your marketing campaigns to new heights. 

Always Measure and Track

With all five data-driven marketing strategies, it is crucial to measure the outcome. Some things to measure include:

  • On-platform engagement
  • Customer behavior on your website
  • Revenue or leads generated
  • Cost per lead or ROAS

Data-Driven Marketing Examples

Data-driven marketing examples include:

Spotify Wrapped

Perhaps the most successful and well-known data-driven marketing example is Spotify's annual Wrapped campaign — with social media users even referring to the day the data is released as "Wrapped Day."

Each year, the music streamer shares interesting insights with its users on their music tastes and preferences, including their most listened-to artists, songs, and genres. Another popular feature of Wrapped is how many minutes of music they listened to over the year.

Spotify Wrapped has nailed data collection and data sharing without seeming overbearing, intrusive, or creepy. Spotify has seen so much success with its Wrapped feature that it even turned it into a successful — and hilarious — billboard ad campaign.


Dating website OkCupid recently harnessed the power of data-driven marketing to help it create engaging content. On its blog, the company regularly publishes insightful user data that peels back the curtain on what people are looking for, what's important to them in a partner, what they find attractive, and much more.

This is a great data-driven marketing example that shows the value of using data to create content that appeals to your target audience and beyond.

DirecTV Partners with USPS

When looking for consumers who were not signed up for a TV plan, what better target audience than people who have recently moved? DirecTV honed in on this audience with the help of USPS and customer data. Through a partnership with USPS, DirecTV could directly target consumers who had recently filed for a change of address. They used that data to send advertisements via direct mail, PPC, and email campaigns, which led consumers to personalized landing pages for people who had recently moved. 

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