Dirk Melief & Ties Carbo – Artefact

Dirk Melief & Ties Carbo – Artefact

Dirk Melief is Director Digital & Data Marketing, and Ties Carbo is Consulting Director at Artefact, a digital marketing company specialising in data consulting and data-driven digital marketing. Artefact is headquartered in France and is currently located in 13 different countries. The company is growing rapidly and has most recently opened an office in New York. The Benelux office in Utrecht currently employs over 50 people.

Realising growth

Artefact helps its clients transform data into value. Dirk: “There are two main business results we strive towards: 1) increase of revenue or market share, and 2) cost reduction. Those are the two most important business metrics. Of course, you have your brand metrics, but above them lies a bigger business objective.” Ties shares how data strategy has become more important: “We notice that clients are asking more questions in terms of their strategy. We look at their business goals and peel back the strategy to the point where we know what needs to happen on data, e.g. what data needs to be collected and combined to drive impact. We have our sweet spot in the marketing, sales & data space and our clients are often the CMOs, CDOs and other digital leaders. We are working on building bridges and breaking silos within organisations, showing the value of data on all levels. For example: data you collect at the front of the organisation, e.g., sales data, can also be utilised in your supply chain.”

Dirk: “In our Marketing ROI projects we look at the entire picture of marketing and sales data, the cause-effect relationships, and how investments in certain marketing channels reflect on your sales and brand impact. You invest in media and that needs to pay off, both in the long and short run. Those two effects need to be measured in the right way. You will not judge a YouTube campaign on conversions. You need to know what it does on brand impact and look at conversion rates in the long run. However, there are brands that do not sell directly to their customers. Not having that direct sales channel creates a (1st party) data gap. We see this clearly with FMCG clients. Think about it, when was the last time you visited the Lay’s or Coca Cola website? We see a shift happening where companies are increasingly looking at how they can reach those consumers and capture their data, for instance through a cashback or prize lottery via the website or app. We help clients with their 1st party data strategies.”

“Being present is one of the most important things in marketing and sales. The basic marketing principles don’t just disappear when you are in digital marketing.”

Outlook on data

When it comes to their expectations for the use of data in the future, Ties and Dirk share a similar outlook. Ties: “These past few years there has been an increase in the things we can measure, but I don’t think much has changed. The movement of collecting and storing data has been around for some time, but the next step is to connect those different domains. There is already a lot of data, so it will be more about what you do with that to be relevant in your marketing and activation. That is where the growth lies. Of course, there are more digital touchpoints that make it easier to measure and collect data, but it is about what you do with that.” Dirk comments how data has become more real-time through digital developments: “Before, you had to wait a month to get the data, and you needed 5 people to analyse it and create insights. Nowadays, data and insights are almost instantly available through the help of machine learning and AI. The technology is not necessarily ‘smarter’ because you still need to fuel those systems with information, but they are used in a better and smarter way. Despite new developments and technologies, human insight and knowledge are still very essential in the process.”

Main pitfalls in marketing data

At Artefact, and also in his former role as measurement & attribution consultant at Google, Dirk has seen many data challenges that brands regularly face. “People further removed from day to day digital marketing sometimes think that everything in digital marketing can be measured on a single user level, which is not the case”, Dirk continues. “You are dealing with privacy legislation, cross-device behaviour and technical limitations. Expectations run high of what we can track on a user level for a consumer journey, but organisations like Google, Facebook and Microsoft have their own walled gardens, and they share very limited across platforms  This is where solutions like the Artefact Marketing ROI model come into place. But also traditional marketing KPIs can be misleading. That is why we need to ask more questions about the data. What does 80% brand awareness mean? That number alone is meaningless. You need to look at the trend data and underlying characteristics such as demographic or geographic variation. That is the data a marketer can make decisions on to move the needle.”

Another pitfall Ties points out is that people tend to focus on the technology, without connecting that to business value and change: “They start to collect a lot of data, hire a lot of people, without having a good business case for those activities. Change management is also an important aspect, educating people to work and think differently. Currently, they are used to making decisions based on gut feeling. And putting a dashboard in front of them and saying they are now “data-driven” is not an effective way to make change happen. You need to guide them and for that, you need support on C-level to transform towards a holistic data-driven organisation, especially as there are still a lot of (data) silos. I notice companies are now taking a more holistic approach to data and taking steps, but we are not there yet.”

Digital marketing

Ties iterates that being data-driven is not a goal, but a means in achieving your business goals, whether that is brand growth, reducing costs or something else. Dirk shares how things have started to shift: “Marketing is now being looked at more scientifically, more research is being done and the likes of Byron Sharp, Peter Field, and Mark Ritson have helped us look at digital marketing as a broader subject. Not just activation or brand building, but what are the other marketing principles that apply in digital marketing and sales? Pricing, promotion, placement; understanding that and translating that to digital is very important. Something I notice in digital marketing is that people speak of targeting and media, whereas actually, it is about availability. If you are not present online, you are not top of mind which makes it difficult to sell your product or service. If you are not in Google search (SEO & SEA) or on Amazon or Bol.com, you are not on the ‘shelf’. You need to constantly balance your marketing P’s, and ‘place’ and ‘promotion’ go hand-in-hand in digital sales.  For me, that is one of the most important things in marketing and sales; making sure you are present. And that is what many digital marketers forget. The basic marketing principles do not just disappear when you are in digital marketing. They are still very relevant.”