“If we look back just ten years, the CMO’s job was 90 percent creativity and 10 percent science. I think now we’re at 50-50.”

– Michael Lazerow, CMO of Salesforce Marketing Cloud

As marketing becomes increasingly data driven, the landscape and the types of professionals involved in marketing are evolving at a rapid rate. This has led to many online discussions and water cooler conversations debating topics such as right-brain vs. left-brain thinking and art vs. science. However, we strongly believe that this isn’t a question of “either / or.” It is a question the best ways to combine both capabilities. The success stories are emerging daily of companies that are blending creativity and analytics in order to create breakthrough results.

When new marketing concepts are being considered, there are the typical questions of “who are we trying to reach?,” “what is the context?,” and “what behavior are we trying to drive?” Creative thinking is required to come up with the right message, imagery, and experience that will support these goals.

Companies are finding that the best way to approach the integration of creativity and analytics is through agile marketing techniques. Many are investing 30 percent or more of their marketing budgets into these types of “test and learn” tactics. With agile marketing, teams of creative and analytics pros work together to create ideas and then use data to inform and test as they are introduced.

“Good design is about clarity over style, and accountability over indifference.”

– John Maeda

For example, marketing analytics team members can use data to help the team understand customer segments at a more granular level. Data about customers can provide insights into micro-segments based on behaviors, needs and goals. Marketing analysts are also able to leverage data to calculate the potential value of each micro-segment and how they behave across each stage of the consumer decision journey.

All of this can be used as input into the creative process. Creative professionals can generate ideas based on a more comprehensive customer understanding. Demographics, needs, behaviors, and context are all available to inform the creative process.

Once the idea and creative elements have been developed, the marketing can be packaged and launched, sometimes in the form of a pilot. Agile marketing teams begin to gather and analyze data almost immediately about how this is performing. Based on the data, the creative concept and elements can either be refined or introduced to a broader group.

Perhaps the most compelling example of the power of combining creativity with analytics is in content marketing. Content marketing is now the rage in marketing groups across the globe. With more channels than ever available, marketers are focused on creating more and more content to fill each each channel. However, more of the same content is almost always not the best solution.

There is a growing body of evidence that content aimed at the needs and interests of customers and prospects is much more effective than traditional product-focused content. As creative professionals develop new content, data and analytics can help determine how effective that content is in achieving goals such as engagement and conversion. Analytics can also help marketers understand the best timing, channel, segment and consumer decision journey stage for each piece of content.

When we look ahead to the future of marketing, one thing is abundantly clear–it won’t be a matter of “creatives” vs. “scientists;” it will be a matter of blending both.

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