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As a digital marketer in 2014, you stand at a crossroads of opportunity.

On your left are the customers and prospects, ready and receptive to a personalized digital dialogue with your brand. On your right are data and analytics, newly arrived to help you identify your most profitable customers and deliver this dialogue directly to them. .

Businesses who put in the investment to make this happen – for instance, by using their CRM data to create lookalike audiences – are seeing conversion lifts of thousands of percent (MIR link).

Best of all, no huge leap is necessary. Here are three things you can do to unlock this opportunity right now.

1. Stop buying advertising based on where you think your audience is.

I’m amazed at the number of advertisers who are still buying digital media on a context basis; i.e. buying on a specific website because that’s where you think your users are. When you begin to layer in audience targeting, you often begin to see a very different picture of who your buyers really are, which you can then utilize to scale your efforts in those areas.

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It’s not at all surprising that when marketers use audience data to target campaigns, the return on investment increases – and there are also residual effects that they haven’t gotten to yet. You can figure out not only what your audience looks like, but who is taking the actions, how to find more of those folks, and how to scale that level of audience so you can spend your money more efficiently.

2. Start leveraging your CRM data.

To me, any organization’s single biggest asset is the data they have on their customers. If you’re not utilizing your own customer data, you’re missing your biggest opportunity.

First, you can use it to understand channel relationship to closure. Your CRM data allows you to close the loop from advertising to sale, or advertising to action. Then, it allows you to control the message you deliver those people depending on where they are at in their buying lifecycle. Whether you sell cars or clothing, CRM data helps you understand why people convert, the journey you’re going to take with them over their lifetime value, and how you should market to them.

Then, there’s extension. You can use your CRM data to target new people who look like your customers – and if you have segmentation within your customer base, you’ll understand how to market to that new group in different ways, based on your existing segments.

If you’re not leveraging CRM data, you’re wasting money with existing customers, and you’re wasting money attempting to do any sort of reach extension.

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3. Start thinking in terms of “device context”.

We’ve reached a tipping point: that “year of mobile” we’ve been hearing about for years is finally here.

One reason is accessibility: everyone now has a phone with a data plan or a smartphone. Two: social media has had a dramatic effect on phone usage. Personally, I can’t remember the last time I looked at Facebook on my laptop. We’re beginning to see distinct activities happening in different channels – activities your customers do on their laptops, activities on their phones, and activities on their tablets – often with very little crossover.

There’s now a huge opportunity to understand the context of device and what you should be communicating in each context, and how different demographics react.

But to do this, you have to understand channels, context and the variables that go into what you want to show an individual on a website, on the phone, on an iPad, at night, during the day, at lunchtime… before you spend your media dollar.

That’s where you need help: a platform that can help you build on an identification layer, verify who an individual is, assign a set of attributes to that individual and then understand how they interact with you as a customer. And the most effective marketers are starting to understand that these insights shouldn’t work in pieces. This is the time to think about how it all works together. To gain further insight download Neustar’s Q1 Media Intelligence Report.

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Rob Gatto is SVP of Media and Advertising at Neustar Inc., the first real-time provider of cloud-based information services and data analytics. Neustar enables marketing professionals to promote their businesses most effectively. With a commitment to privacy and neutrality, Neustar operates complex data registries and uses its expertise to deliver actionable, data-driven insights to help clients make high-value business decisions in real time, one customer interaction at a time. For more information visit neustar.biz.

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by Brandon Gutman
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Brandon is an expert connector and seasoned business development professional. As Principal of Brand Approved, he's led the advisory to become the bridge between brand marketers and best of breed service providers that are reshaping the industry.

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