How A Better Campaign Brief Is Unlocking Data-Driven Decision Making

May 2022

How A Better Campaign Brief Is Unlocking Data-Driven Decision Making

In an invite-only industry roundtable held last week with DHC Group members and fellow pharma marketers, Jim DeLash (GSK) shared with other marketers from boutique to large pharma how he is challenging his team to think differently about the role of the campaign brief in data-driven decision making.

Modern marketing is certainly a marriage of art and science, and the savvy marketer needs to know how to use data and creative in harmony. Jim recommends starting with the end in mind – a well-designed brief that considers what the data has already told you about the patient population. In his presentation, he shared how a better brief can take marketers to next level analytics and eventually drive advanced experimentation.

Jim Delash
“The campaign brief, then, is the is the linchpin, that the starting point to what we believe will lead to better, more valued content being delivered to the audiences in the ways that they can really consume it effectively.”
Jim DeLash, Multi-Channel Marketing Director, Vaccines, GSK

The Campaign Brief

Why are we talking about a campaign brief in a conversation on data-driven decision making? Because everything that follows is designed to tell you how and when the customer has engaged with your creative and what creative and message to serve up next. The best data-driven decision making can be hamstrung by bad creative. Pharma’s role then is to ensure that the brief process is both efficient and well-thought-out.

Jim identified a significant disconnect brought out in a recent study across marketing and advertising organizations in which only 10% of agencies surveyed felt that briefs are currently well written yet 80% of marketers surveyed believe they are doing it very well. Top complaints around briefs by agencies are that briefs are “unfocused, unclear, dull and thoughtless”. Jim’s proposed solution: constrain briefs to ensure a very tight, focused one-page document that distills down the 200+ pages of data and insight work that have likely gone into it. A great brief checks the following boxes:

Next Level Analytics

How does this better brief take us to the data-driven decision making? Jim outlines how with the next level analytics approach, on the heels of a brief that gets you to truly great creative, you can shift to more macro approach to understanding and influencing customer behavior.  Next level analytics is designed to shift focus from certain channel-specific measures that don’t help marketers make data-driven decisions.  Rather than focus on e-mail open rates where accuracy is uncertain or display ad CTRs with arguable value, Jim recommends that instead you look at macro indicators of campaign success such as paid search impressions which will reflect if your well-designed campaign (thanks to your brief) is striking a nerve with your audience. This feedback loop should be monitored frequently and look at elements such as media investment, channel mix, messages and adword groups.

A second metric of success in this next-level analytics is around high value action site visits based on campaign call-to-actions. Moving deeper into this more sophisticated and intuitive approach includes monitoring what Jim calls “active” and “passive” triggers. In this model, active triggers are your positive indicators of success such as a promotion response, purchase activity, or a sales force call versus a lack of response or decline in purchase activity – passive triggers. This model can be applied all the way through to a dynamic segmentation phase of analytics in which micro-segmentation can take place in evaluating whether the customer base and individual segments are moving in a positive direction.

Advanced Experimentation

Building on the base of solid creative and next-level analytics allows marketers to delve into advanced experimentation. Jim recommends splitting these into two categories:

  • Micro-experimentations are the ways you might change copy language to test a more emotional headline or AB test copy. Click-through rates will quickly tell you what works and what doesn’t, and allow you to test your intuition on what motivates customer behavior. Factors in the micro category are high in volume but lower in impact. 
  • Macro-experimentations are campaign level changes which means they are much fewer in number but carry a significant impact.  Jim’s example: you want to test a theory that you can cut the spend in half for a customer segment and the data shows no change in buying behavior, and the cut allowed you to reinvest somewhere else. 

These advanced experimentations are often driven by your original campaign brief process – taking this concept full circle. Jim noted that part of what you glean during the in-depth work to distill down all the data and insights can often be what gives you the best ideas for this experimentation phase. Spending time with the data up front will allow you to exercise those marketing muscles that lead you to new ideas for both micro and macro level campaign improvements over time.

About the Author
christine franklin
Christine Franklin

Christine is the Executive Director of the DHC Group and hosted this conversation with Jim DeLash and a group of invited thought leaders. You can connect with her on LinkedIN here.

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