In our industry, science is all around us. But it is a science that has absolutely nothing to do with pharmaceutical compounds that has my attention these days—and should have yours, too. Actually, it is not one science, but two—data science and behavioral science. Both have come into their own, and combined, are propelling marketing programs forward by leaps and bounds.
Simply said, successful marketing organizations must be able to comprehend, manipulate, and analyze data. Here’s one real example: Recently, our senior data scientist was able to review prescription data relative to a marketing effort, and based upon physician responses and the ways in which they changed their behavior, predict six physician archetypes that would each respond differently to messages. Similarly, with an analysis of an email campaign, it was possible not only to identify which keywords, taglines, and subject lines performed best, but also quantify exactly how much difference they made.
Information like this makes it possible to make constant improvement a reality. This isn’t segmentation based upon personas, or value based on estimates. It’s real world and real time.
Big Data, Alone, is Not Enough
But we humans are irrational creatures. Even the biggest data set can’t explain itself. It can tell us what’s happening—it’s on us to understand why. That’s where behavioral science comes in. This discipline investigates our motivations—why people choose to act, and what kinds of events trigger different types of behavior change in different types of people.
These concepts—the ability to see detailed behavior, to parse it, to understand and address it, and to even predict it—are not new. What’s different is that the disciplines have grown up. How?
- The time scale is entirely different. What would once have taken months is now automated.
- The tools and platforms are phenomenally capable. They have evolved to not only handle massive data faster, but to also analyze it in increasingly complex ways.
- The scientists themselves have evolved. As the disciplines of data science and behavioral science have grown to stand on their own, experts in the fields are constantly surpassing previous standards.
The days of “one big idea”—of deciles providing enough knowledge—are behind us. By applying data science and behavioral science, marketers are finding that they are able to plan and predict their marketing campaigns and sales training in entirely new ways.
We’ve heard plenty of talk about Big Data for a long time. In many ways, we’re inured. We’re accustomed to seeing charts and graphs, and infographics and data points. What is far less common is actionable insight. What does all that information actually tell us?
When budgets are tight, competition is fierce, timelines are compressed, and expectations are high, good guesses—even great guesses—are no longer enough. Precision matters. Detail matters. Speed matters. Data science and behavioral science, together, will make the difference.