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Why data-driven businesses will weather the economic storm

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South Africa is a difficult place to do business right now. Following the Rand’s crash to record lows, predictions of a recession and the potential downgrade to junk status, economists are warning business owners to brace themselves for a tough economic climate in 2016, writes Andre Hugo, co-founder and chief jat M4JAM (Money for Jam).
As businesses work hard to keep their doors open in these conditions, it goes without saying that costs will be cut – and the first casualties are usually research and marketing. However, now more than ever these businesses need to understand and target their customers effectively so that they stand out from the rest.

Using data to improve business strategies
That’s where data comes in. It’s become an essential ingredient in business success whether you’re a Fortune 100 company or a nimble startup. In fact, 81% of marketers consider data to be a vital part of their marketing efforts, according to a global survey by the Global Alliance of Data-driven Marketing Associations (GDMA). The reason is that effective use of data is the key to improving and refining business strategies that result in campaign success and a higher ROI.

The real value of realtime data
The good news is that getting hold of this data doesn’t need to break the bank. Integrated advertising agency, Ogilvy & Mather, has harnessed real-time insights to inform some of its campaigns and pitches by making use of M4JAM’s JamFactory. The JamFactory allows businesses to create, manage and run their own research campaigns and source quality data and insights in real time, for a fraction of the cost of traditional research.
According to MD of Ogilvy & Mather Cape Town, Luca Gallarelli, “Research is an invaluable tool for substantive marketing, but it has been a cumbersome and expensive business with long timelines and usually one shot only. With JamFactory we can gain particular kinds of market intelligence off very short leads and get the results pretty much instantly, and do it so economically that we can go round again if we need further refinement in the data.”

The case for holding on to the marketing budget
This is a great example of a business that is exploring new, cost-effective strategies to drive business value and show its clients exactly why they should continue to include marketing in their budgets when the going gets tough. Adopting a data-driven marketing approach has allowed them to take functions of marketing that have previously not been quantifiable and develop a factual base on which marketing decisions can be made. They are using insights from customers and prospects to deliver targeted messages and content that will more effectively deliver greater results.
At the end of the day, these results translate into more money for the business. Effectively using data to gain customer insights means money well spent on better targeted campaigns. In fact, McKinsey has reported that organisations that place data at the centre of their marketing decisions see a 15% to 20% increase on marketing return on investment on average.

Data-driven business here to stay
Talking about data might be nothing new. However, as businesses brace themselves for the year ahead, it’s never been more important to find cost-effective ways to get hold of that data and turn it into an asset by making use of the real-time insights it offers and taking the right action as a result thereof.
There is no alternative for proper, detailed research – now more than ever, data trumps opinion.