5 Ways Marketers Can Hire Data-Savvy Talent

Data Savvy Marketers

By Jessica Hawthorne-Castro 

Original Publication: Recruiter.com

Date of Publication: September 25, 2018

The field of marketing and advertising has historically attracted a wide range of people with a wide range of skill sets and interests. Communication, psychology, art, writing, and business are all part of the marketing stew — and increasingly, so is data science. While the Mad Men days of collaborative brainstorming and Data Savvy Marketersflashes of inspiration are not completely gone, data has transformed the profession into one that requires both creativity and science.

However, the talent pool has struggled to keep up with the evolving demands of marketing and advertising, with only 1.9 percent of marketing leads reporting they have the right talent to leverage marketing analytics.

Today, getting maximum ROI from marketing and advertising campaigns requires teams that have both marketing knowledge and data science skills, yet many companies are feeling the pressure of the talent gap. To close that gap, here are five things hiring managers and recruiters can start doing today:

1. Think Beyond Marketing Majors

Marketers and advertisers should no longer focus solely (or even mostly) on pure marketing majors during recruitment. The key is to gear your recruitment efforts toward data-savvy talent. You should be looking for students who have taken classes or minored in statistics, math, computer science, data science, and programming. Consider participating in a job fair at an engineering school or posting job ads on websites that target programmers to tap into these talent pools.

Similarly, psychology and sociology are also valuable majors, as the skills learned in these programs can be useful in customer research and related efforts.

2. Establish an Internship Program

Internship programs are an effective way to give data-savvy students who may not have considered marketing a chance to dip their toe into the industry. Conversely, an internship is an opportunity to emphasize to students with marketing backgrounds the importance of data science. A program that includes hands-on projects will give students real experience and drive home the importance of data science skills. When they go back to school, they may be inspired to round out their studies with other disciplines and classes, perhaps pivoting their elective curriculum to include SQL and statistics.

3. Work Alongside Local Universities

Academia tends to be a few years behind the market, and the lack of communication between the schools and the market is part of why the skills gap exists. However, schools want their graduates to find jobs, and they are usually appreciative of feedback about what employers are looking for.

Agencies and companies should invest in building relationships with collegiate marketing departments to develop well-rounded curricula that include technical data science skills. If a direct collaboration with a university isn’t feasible, getting involved with alumni networks is a great way to build relationships and open lines of communication. Take advantage of opportunities to speak on alumni panels and emphasize the importance of data-science skills. Don’t be shy about reaching out to math or engineering departments to let them know you’re interested in their students, too.

4. Seek Community Partnerships

Look for ways to get involved with nonprofits that teach young people in-demand skills. For example, Marketing EDGE helps students who want to break into marketing and advertising learn what they need to be competitive in the market. By getting involved with these types of organizations, you can help ensure the next generation has the skills you are looking for.

5. Search Outside the Box

When looking for the next generation of data-savvy talent, post job listings that cater to candidates of multiple backgrounds. An engineer, a mathematician, and a marketing person may all be interested in the same job, so employ language that attracts them all, and be sure emphasize that you are looking for a multitude of skills.

When it comes to advertising required skills, remember that soft skills are just as important as hard skills when filling data-savvy roles and bridging talent gaps. At Hawthorne, for example, we look for drive, self-sufficiency, and street smarts. We want people who are self-starters and willing to go above and beyond. We look for a “Swiss Army knife” quality, meaning people who are eager to step outside their comfort zones and experiment.

The marketing industry moves fast, and candidates have to be adaptable and eager to keep up. Marketing teams can avoid looming skills gaps by hiring people who are hungry and giving them plenty of opportunities for skill development, like mentorship programs or advanced courses.

It’s one thing to recognize the importance of data-savvy talent and another to have access to it. Marketing teams that want to stay ahead of the curve have to invest in the next generation of talent, both internally and externally. Marketers can’t only think about their current needs in the short term. They have to start preparing for the future.

Jessica Hawthorne-Castro is CEO of Hawthorne.

How Agencies Can Help Prepare The Next Generation Of Data-Driven Marketers

Jessica Hawthorne-Castro

By Jessica Hawthorne-Castro 

Original Publication: AdExchanger

Date of Publication: September 20, 2018

Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, CEO at Hawthorne.

Jessica Hawthorne-Castro

The rise of data science has had a major impact on just about every industry out there, but the effect on marketing and advertising has been particularly acute.

Data science has transformed marketing by providing insight into whom to target with what message and when. As the field has become more data driven, however, the talent pool has struggled to keep up. A sizeable skills gap has emerged. Today, only 1.9% of marketing leaders report that they have the right talent to leverage marketing analytics.

This gap is a problem every marketing team and agency faces. Now that ever-greater portions of marketing budgets are allocated to analytics, employers need people with data skills who can deliver the right ROI from campaigns. A strong data science team is key to being competitive in the marketplace.

As demand for data science skills outstrips supply, marketers have an important role to play in preparing the next generation for data-driven jobs. We can’t sit back and wait for the talent pool to expand.

I see three effective ways agencies can create a pipeline of hires with the combined skill sets needed in today’s advertising world.

Partner with universities

The first approach is to collaborate with universities on curricula. Academia tends to move slower than the market, which means students may not graduate with the actual, practical skills they need to succeed. Conversely, agencies looking for entry-level hires may recruit at universities, only to find a dearth of qualified candidates.

One way to ensure schools are teaching students the skills they need is to open up direct lines of communication. Partnering with educational institutions and providing insight into desirable skills allows agencies to say, “These are the skills we are looking for,” which could include statistics or computer science. The academic departments can then use that information to shape coursework accordingly.

Schools are invested in their graduates finding jobs and usually appreciate feedback about what employers are looking for. If a direct partnership with a university isn’t feasible, getting involved with alumni networks is another way to build those relationships. Look for opportunities to speak on alumni panels and reach out to math or engineering departments to let them know your interest.

Create internship programs

Another strategy is to establish an internship program, which provides a direct way for employers to convey their needs to the next generation and to guide them as they choose their majors and classes. A program that includes hands-on projects gives students real-world experience and drives home the importance of data science skills. When they go back to school, they may be inspired to round out their studies with other disciplines and courses. For example, they could pivot their elective curricula to include SQL and statistics.

Internships are also an opportunity for students with data science backgrounds, who hadn’t considered marketing as a career path before, to see if it’s a good fit. Someone studying computer science or engineering may like that marketing allows them to be creative and may decide to round out their technical coursework with classes in communications. A great way to recruit these students is through job fairs at engineering schools or by posting job listings on websites geared towards programmers.

Work with nonprofits

Beyond university campuses, there are some great organizations out there training the next generation of computer and data scientists. From coding boot camps, to General Assembly, to nonprofits such as Marketing EDGE, these groups can serve as a valuable talent pipeline. Marketing EDGE, for example, helps students who want to break into marketing and advertising learn what they need to be competitive candidates. Getting involved with these groups puts agencies in direct contact with fledgling data scientists.

All of these initiatives are geared toward overcoming the skills gap by building stronger connections between employers and tomorrow’s marketing hires. Marketers and advertisers can prepare the next generation to have the right data-savvy skills by being proactive about outreach and participating in the educational process. The work upfront will pay off down the road.

Four Best Practices For Successful, Responsive Media Campaigns

Four Best Practices For Successful, Responsive Media Campaigns

Author: Jessica Hawthorne-Castro for Forbes Agency Council

Original Publication: Forbes

Date Published: September 12, 2018

It’s getting harder for brand advertisers to earn market share with traditional media approaches. At the same time, targeting consumers and business-to-business customers can also be difficult.Four Best Practices For Successful, Responsive Media Campaigns

What’s needed is accountable media that scales to the client’s needs, uses data-driven campaigns, capitalizes on advanced technologies, is performance-based and can be measured. It sounds like a challenge, but it can be done with these four best practices in mind.

1. Strike the perfect balance.

Traditional media agencies are making significant strides to offer stronger, integrated solutions to marketers. Offline and online should work together. Traditional TV, radio and linear audience measurement can deliver the right scale to meet a marketer’s specific campaign requirements, and then you can target local markets with digital and social media platforms.

We’re also seeing connected TV, native ads, over-the-top (OTT) services and mobile-friendly subscription programming having a significant surge in opportunity for brands. Those channels and devices that offer targeted programming to their subscribers and viewers will be sought by advertisers who are looking to deliver customized content to their customers.

Don’t overlook the power of local media activation, either. While the use of local media has become significantly more complicated, fragmented and concentrated for select campaign categories, it still remains relevant and recommended for drive-to-retail campaigns. As consumers continue to expect more personalization, local marketing should continue to be a focus, as brands need to exceed the level of service customers want in a one-to-one relationship.

2. Use data to its full potential.

Marketers today have put a substantial emphasis on data and analytics in campaign strategy and execution. The injection of data science and data as a strategic differentiator has changed the relationships among brands, agencies and media — and data and analytics are paramount to campaign success.

So, how much data is enough and are we using data correctly? Simply providing standard or baseline attribution methodology is not enough. You need data that is statistical and provides a great measurement of response to a media channel: not just why they responded, but also the neuroscience principles that triggered a response and how many times the viewer saw a message before responding. This will provide a better understanding of the kind of impact social engagement has in influencing their consumer habits.

It’s important that you can gather all of this data in a way that provides clear, in-depth insights. It should be matched to all media buys for greater visibility as to who a customer is so campaign optimization can happen in weeks, not months or years. Most marketers don’t have an exact profile of their customers. They have a primary and secondary demographic. The goal of data science technology should be to strengthen customer profiles to match all media.

3. Take advantage of trackable media.

Direct response TV (DRTV) offers greater customer targeting and segmentation across all channels. It also uses data to drive broader customer engagement, leverage customized content and create a clear path to action. DRTV initiatives are not “remnant” strategies; they include targeted media across strategic stations and dayparts at a fraction of the general advertising media costs. This enables greater flexibility of booking and optimizing media for the most creative lengths and, more importantly, the ability to clear at optimum levels based on campaign key performance indicator (KPI) goals.

Finally, DRTV’s call to action has expanded to include many different channels and devices — a must-have in today’s multichannel world. DRTV’s highlights include DRTV messaging and content that can be customized for specific buyer personas across all channels and devices and combines a strong data component.

While still a few years away before widespread adoption, brands should also be investigating and planning for the ATSC 3.0 standard. This technology is already being trialed, and it supports personalized content, including targeted advertising for sub-DMA or even household-level campaigns. And it can support a new form of first-party audience data that broadcasters can bring to the measurement of their audiences.

4. Measure across all platforms.

To know whether a campaign is achieving its goals and delivering real return on investment, you have to measure. And that measurement needs to span cross-platform campaigns. To ensure a successful, responsive media campaign, focus on multitouch attribution. Cross-screen attribution methodologies are driven by the use of device ID matching across addressable, connected TV homes to develop cross-device advertising and measurement tracking.

Mobile data is also used to attribute and append mobile response interactions with other device responses to identify customer data habits and enhance experiences. Soon, consumers will be engaging with all their linear and video content through mobile technology and being served bundled, subscription programming packages based on individual customer preference.

With multitouch attribution, you use mixed media modeling and ingest first-party customer data layered with second- and third-party data. This can provide a 360-degree analytic view that connects brands with their customers to gain deeper insights. The optimization of cross-screen attribution allows marketers to fine-tune creative content advertising by channel and device, as well as identify attribution insights that drive media optimization for e-commerce and drive-to-retail campaigns.

Standing Out When Marketing Noise is Louder than Ever


By Jessica Hawthorne-Castro 

Original Publication: MarTechSeries.com 

Date of Publication: July 26, 2018

Six Ways To Fight Back And Rise Above The Crowd When The Noise Around You Gets Too Loud For You And Your Customers To Ignore

In a time where the consumer wants, needs, and behaviors are evolving as rapidly as technology and data, it’s becoming harder for marketers to stand out and rise above the noise. Consumers are literally being pummeled from all sides, and across all devices, as they make their way through the day. In fact, the cacophony has become so loud and distracting that all companies need to start taking some extreme measures to rise above the clutter.

Here are six ways your firm can start standing out right now:

1) Think Beyond Your Own Organization
Strive to connect to something that’s bigger than yourself. Have a greater goal for the world. Walk the walk on this commitment by giving a percentage of your profits to charity, donating time to your favorite causes, being an advocate for important issues, or other “giving” activities. Whether you bring awareness to world problems, support environmental causes, or participate in a TED Talk, your ultimate goal should be to have an impact on the world that goes beyond advertising and direct response. At a TED Conference in Vancouver, B.C., for example, I attended a luncheon where Al Gore spoke about climate change and discussed new environmental initiatives. Climate change is a passion of mine, so anytime I can get on board with positive changes, I’m in.

In the end, whatever good works you can do will contribute to the greater good of the world and translate to your own marketplace. It’s no longer OK to operate with tunnel vision or in a silo. We all need to do our part, and in the end, that’s what makes an entire organization—and its valued clients—so successful.

2) Give Back To Your Employees
Make people want to come to work in the morning. Working smart and working hard are big parts of success. I’m a big believer in hard work, but I also think we should have fun at the same time. After all, we spend roughly 30 percent of our lives at work!

Give employees the tools they need to succeed and allow them to do their best creative work in a collaborative, engaging workspace. Strive to foster an atmosphere that infuses employees with pride in working for your company. Celebrate accolades and the fact that valued team members are enthused about coming to work in the morning. This will set your company apart from those where working 9-to-5 is a chore.

3) Improve Transparency With Clients
Put your clients first every time. One of the greatest joys in the advertising business is seeing companies grow, thrive, and reach their potential; they may even merge with other firms or be acquired based on such success. Be passionate about helping your partners achieve success, and you’ll be able to develop a track record that proves it.

Don’t be afraid to be truthful when you offer advice. When we give our clients advice on campaigns, for example, we point to the ROI for every dollar of media invested. We do so for the greater good of that client’s company. Their success is our success—and that’s what we truly enjoy. Any business supporting a DR marketing campaign should follow this model.

4) Merge Analytics With Creative
Few would argue the profound impact that big data has had on the business world, and on marketing in particular. Defined by Gartner research analysts as “high- volume, high-velocity, and high-variety information assets that demand cost-effective, innovative forms of information processing for enhanced insight and decision-making,” big data has pushed marketers to spend more time thinking about exactly how their advertising investments and campaigns translate into bottom-line benefits and corporate growth.

As this trend has advanced, the marketers that identify and use the data that matters most are the ones that achieve better efficiencies, higher return on investment (ROI), and better decision-making for the future. Smart marketers are identifying opportunities that advance their brands’ positions and capabilities, targeting new customers more efficiently, and serving their existing customers more effectively.

At Hawthorne, we see the intersection of data and marketing as a particularly creative junction in and of itself, based on the fact that it allows DR marketers to do what they do best: create and develop effective campaigns that are engaging, accountable, and on-point.

5) Make The Magic Happen
Every company should be able to multiply its media investments with a carefully crafted creative and media campaign. The three simple words at the heart of a strategy should be: launch, grow, and brand. Adopt a strategic approach to creative, media buying, and analytics, and merge them to create a successful campaign. Launch, grow, and brand with an underlying analytical foundation—and consider yourselves to be partners in your clients’ growing businesses.

We have helped clients turn relatively unknown brands and products into sales powerhouses by following these operating philosophies. One of our clients—an online pet food supplier—was acquired for $3.35 billion, and that came less than a year after we launched its first ad campaign. Another client introduced a household product to consumers that became a major brand for a global manufacturer.

You can follow the same path as you partner on projects. Help your client companies grow and take pride in the fact that you’ve contributed to their success and future growth. Then you can enjoy every minute of the journey alongside them.

6) Let Your Customers Tell Your Stories
When making a purchasing decision, the overwhelming majority of consumers, nearly 70% according to a Nielsen survey, trust customer reviews. Aside from the product benefits and features themselves, customer reviews can be the decisive factor for potential buyers who are mulling over their options. The rise of digital media over the past several years makes customer testimonials even more accessible and ubiquitous in the buying process.

So how do you find happy customers to star in your review video? Going to the largest group of consumers with a variety of tactics is key — email blasts and social media contests can be effective ways to identify the right people. Many people are drawn to the idea of appearing on camera, but narrowing down the list to the right group is important.

Once you’ve identified a pool of customers who are willing to participate, take the time to ask them about their use of the product or service to make sure they connect with the brand. A consumer who really connects to a product will naturally bring up points that align with the brand message.

By employing some or (preferably) all of these tactics, you’ll be able to effectively position your company for success in any advertising environment—even one where you have to rise above the noise to be heard.

Opinion Improving marketing ROI with data analytics

Jessica Hawthorne-Castro
 Author: Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, CEO

Original Publication: Information Management

Organizations are increasingly adopting big data analytics to understand and then fix business problems. They’re learning how to extract value from multi-sourced information and then relate that information to an issue in their marketing, manufacturing, advertising, or shipping, etc.

For example, T-Mobile (and the other main carriers) consistently use big data analytics to spot the reasons for (and prevent) customer turnover. Customer attrition is a significant expense in this industry, so firms that can best use data to improve retention and improve satisfaction will have a leg up on the competition. Big data is not just a tool for the enterprise level firms. It’s appropriate for businesses of varying sizes that want to better understand customer behaviors and improve their marketing tactics.

Every organization wants to use data to find actionable insights. It’s “cause and effect” on a broader scale, where there could be multiple factors working in concert that are producing a certain result. The difficulty is in generating the right data, keeping it organized, and then having the right analytics tools and staff members who know how to extract correlations. Doing this right to optimize the customer experience and boost sales requires adherence to several best practices:

Use Statistical Modeling

Marketers working on TV campaigns now have at their disposal a number of modeling tools to help them gauge performance. They can use customer demographics, Nielsen-derived viewing data, airing size, and specific data on the actual stations utilized and the airing timeframes. Marketers can use this clean data to gauge current performance and then dynamically adjust future campaigns accordingly. There can be surprises uncovered in this process, as marketers might find for example a previously under-served demographic that is generating impressive sales in response to TV campaigns.

Clean up the Mess

The “mess” in this context refers to data that is not properly structured and is essentially useless when it comes to analysis. Even the best data scientist and marketing wizard can’t pull insights from broken data. Do some work on the front end to ensure all of the data streams coming into the analytics tool are organized and clean. Attempting to fix data after the campaign is launched is a time-intensive process that doesn’t give the marketers a chance to suggest campaign changes in real time.

Follow Customer Behavior and Actions

Companies have at their disposal a powerful but often underused source of rich data. It’s the touch point for most customers – the website. Whether it’s a landing page, mobile site, or the primary corporate website, all of these channels offer a wealth of information. Firms can track this information through pixels that can be placed throughout the sites to measure customer behaviors, from what they visit to how long they hover the cursor over the “add to cart” button.

Understanding customer behaviors provides unbelievable context and the opportunity for segmentation. Marketers should develop “playbooks” on consumers so they can then be grouped together in new and surprising ways. Tracking should also include device information, especially as consumers move to a mobile-centric way of communicating and ordering. Social media tracking provides another layer of data on how customer’s share information about a brand and gives marketers a way to reach social media influencers.

Measure the Retail Responses

Big data analytics is essentially a new way to look at “cause and effect.” Instead of reviewing a direct mail piece’s performance against actual sales, big data analytics can correlate seemingly unrelated company actions and customer actions.

Marketers should focus on the retail responses amongst the various channels to spot these surprising correlations. With many campaigns, there can be a brand boost in sales for a campaign that is meant to only promote a single product. For example, TV spots about the durability of a housewares maker’s blender could drive sales of the firm’s carbonated beverage machine. Marketers will need to use analytics to look deeper at the behaviors and actions behind such results, and then adjust accordingly to boost sales of both products.

The ROI of campaigns can now have multiple layers, so marketers should understand how to analyze campaign impacts on a deeper level. Marketers that take a measured (yet creative) approach to big data analytics will be the ones most likely to uncover surprises and be able to prove campaign ROI. Doing this right requires some patience and hard work on the front end to introduce clean data, build structured analysis models, and create analytics that are built for multi-channel environments.

Jessica Hawthorne-Castro