Humanise your data and stretch your creative impact

Design for people rather than the numbers, argues Digitas Australia senior data analyst Brianna Taylor.

We spend hours of our day tapping glass, living in an increasingly digital world measured by the drumbeat we play on our phones. It should come as no surprise, then, that there’s a growing sense of disconnect between people and the world we live in.

In part I blame the evolution of the digital experience, driven by the narrow way in which we quantify it. Creative has fallen victim to being measured by clicks and views instead of longevity, while data has been pigeonholed as creative’s measuring tool instead of being its North Star. As a result, we produce forgettable work that doesn’t register or resonate. But by rethinking the role creative and data play in how we connect with people, we can create experiences that are both far-reaching and human.

Image: Rebecca Ryan (Instagram: @whatbryandraws)

Connecting data and creative

To achieve lasting impact, we need to think beyond that first handshake and make customers the judge of our ideas from the start. We need to ask ourselves: do our ideas generate investment from our customers, or are we catering to the superficial?

Take for example the famous ‘mermaid wall’ that used to exist on the former Yardhouse building in London. People from around the world would come to take their pictures in front of it – but it didn’t generate any interest in what the building was actually made for, which was to showcase affordable housing for artists. To avoid this kind of disconnect, great creative needs great data at its root to get people knocking.

Great data is the right data

Great data should reveal the motivations of customers. In other words, it should reveal the why behind their actions. When we understand our customers in this way, all the other data we collect inherits an additional layer of context that creative can leverage to deliver better experiences, enabling us to iterate and feedback to those customers in a way that feels personal, relevant and intuitive.

Creative that speaks to customers on a deeper level also becomes a great teacher, capturing the kind of data that enriches our knowledge of our customers and helps propel and steer development. If we constrict our view and approach to data, we do the same to our customers – running the risk of making creative that talks to numbers instead of people and creates walls instead of doorways.

Delivering on the data-creative promise

Brands that can deliver on the connection between data and creative are already reaping the rewards. A recent campaign by Cadbury – a worldwide virtual Easter egg hunt – encouraged users to hide a digital egg for a loved one anywhere in the world with a personalised clue. The campaign recognised the need for people to connect with loved ones over the holidays and designed a solution to cater to that motivation in a compelling way.

By focusing on their customers’ motivations, Cadbury captured that moment as an added perspective to the data that it collected – and this campaign collected some highly valuable data. The most actionable of that data? The clues given to the would-be recipients of the Easter eggs. These were the special moments people shared with each other to connect: funny memories, favourite places, important milestones – all meaningful glimpses that could be used to create increasingly relevant, engaging and personalised experiences with the brand. And this context will be invaluable when they return for next year’s campaign – something Cadbury is set on after this year’s success, which saw 1.78 million users visit the site and 680,000 eggs hidden around the world. There was even a marriage proposal.

So how can we make something durable and made for humans?

  • Create investment – Everything we put in front of people should be considered. What value are we adding for people when we create a campaign, develop a website or send an email? How does each interaction ladder up to an end-to-end journey that people want to be on?
  • Build for why – When we make things that solve for the motivations of users, what we end up learning about the customer becomes enriched by that added context. Build experiences that solve for why first.
  • The ‘creator economy’ is everywhere – Give customers the opportunity to improve their own experiences through what they create and digest. Come up with experiences that empower customers to show you what problems they’re trying to solve for.
  • What’s your return on discovery? – Treat your creative as a learning platform. Is the data you’re collecting along the way going to aid in the development of creating better, more valuable experiences for your customers?

The future isn’t data-fuelled – it’s data-partnered

When we allow data and creative to work in tandem, we unlock opportunities to make incredible things that have a lasting impact. But more than that, we can generate a valuable feedback loop that allows us to continuously evolve how people see and interact with brands through experiences – all guided by the why in every action people take.

Brianna Taylor is a senior data analyst at Digitas Australia.


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