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  • Jay Dillemuth

What the heck is People-Based Marketing and why should you care?

As marketers, we are all well aware that budgets are always limited. I’ve never met a marketing team who had more money in their budget than they needed to drive all the programs and initiatives on their wish list forward. Consequently, maximizing the value and impact of marketing’s contribution to the organization requires making difficult investment decisions in an increasingly complex world.

As new marketing channels and touchpoints proliferate, the holy grail for marketers is increasingly the ability to deliver the right message to the right prospect or customer at the right time. Doing this well is a challenge for many of our clients, requiring cross-functional alignment within the organization, integrating digital and CRM data and media planning, and a new approach to measurement.

From channel-centric to customer-centric

Mass media (television, radio, out-of-home) targets large groups of consumers based on the likelihood that they watch a certain show, listen to certain radio programming, live in a certain neighborhood etc. Traditional digital media, while much more precise and targeted than mass, is still anonymous at its core, deriving interest and intent from user behavior. While behavioral data is extremely powerful, the anonymous nature of traditional digital media has contributed to marketing silos that take a channel centric vs. a customer centric view of goals and performance.

Recent advancements in digital marketing platforms are beginning to break down these silos and enable marketers to deliver coordinated messages to customers and prospects across digital and offline ecosystems. This coordinated approach to marketing with customer data at the center is often referred to as “People Based Marketing” (PBM). But what exactly is PBM? And how does it work?

People-Based Marketing (PBM) defined

At its essence PBM entails using personally identifiable or addressable first-party CRM data (name, postal address, email address etc.) as the starting point and activating that data across a number of traditional direct marketing and addressable digital channels. PBM enables marketers to employ new technologies and vendors to deliver marketing communications to customers and prospects across channels and across devices on a 1-1 targeted basis.

This represents a major shift from a channel-centric to customer-centric perspective which will impact the marketing organization from planning through analytics.

Why you should care about People-Based Marketing

In addition to the obvious benefit of synchronizing offers, messaging and creative treatments to deliver consistent and orchestrated customer experiences, PBM enables data-driven marketers to understand the lift in yield and Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) implications of various multi-channel combinations. This has historically been extremely difficult to do across anonymous and known audiences, across devices, and across channels.

By starting with the individual-level data and then layering channels and touchpoints on top, marketers can match targeted audiences against customer files to understand the conversion rate per exposed prospect for each cell in a test matrix. This type of progressive A/B channel testing can help you find the sweet spot or “Goldilocks Zone” that maximizes scale and profitability.

Ultimately, the end result for the marketing team is that people-based marketing represents a huge step forward in gaining visibility and helps answer the question: “Where should I spend my budget to get the biggest bang for my buck?” In fact, some of our clients have seen ROAS lifts of 20% or more by employing PBM.

How to get started

At Pragmatic, we are actively working with several of our clients to systematically test our way into people-based marketing and measure the impact it has on the media mix. If you have a direct marketing program, you have the ability to test into PBM, and we’d love to help you do it. Get in touch and let’s chat about your needs.


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