Data-driven Marketing Versus Traditional Marketing: What Works and for Whom?

Most would say that marketing is one part science and two parts art. While this has been true historically, marketing continues to become more and more of a scientific discipline those in certain industries, most notably those in tech and entrepreneurship. After all, when you consider the plethora of data points that the average marketer has at their disposal from free, easy-to-use sites like Google Analytics, it becomes clear that the average marketer is being required to become more data driven by shifts in analytics tools but that some are adopting this approach faster than others.

The scientific approach to marketing is perhaps best embodied by an entrepreneur named Tim Ferris’s book “The Four Hour Workweek.” Why did Ferris decide to title his book this? Data and data only. Both anecdotal experience and hard data showed Ferris that a book with this title would sell better than the other titles he was A/B testing. He initially discovered this when he took out a number of advertisements using Google Adwords and found that “The Four Hour Workweek,” and not “Selling Drugs for Fun and Profit” (his original title) had a higher CTR (click through rate) and sold more copies. Ferris conducted further research by taking several different copies of his book, each with different titles, and placing them on the book racks at his local Barnes and Noble. He noticed that more people were drawn to the title “The Four Hour Workweek” and thus confirmed with his own eyes what his data had shown him as well. Ferris’ ability and willingness to conduct thorough primary research seem to be major contributing factors to his success.

Another, less data driven approach, is to attempt to become a category leader through partnerships with influencers in your industry. This variation on the Principles of Product Placement is as old as the discipline of modern marketing itself (dating back to the early 20th century) and continues to yield benefits for those with the budget and social influence to practice it. For example, companies such as GoPro continue to utilize sponsorships as a primary means of building their brand name. The result is that they are now the action cam category leader to such an extent that the name “GoPro” has become synonymous with action cam in the same way that Kleenex is synonymous with tissue.

GoPro acheived this level of category dominance not through a superior product. In fact, there are many out there who would argue that there is an abundance of alternatives to the GoPro that are better performing, more user-friendly versions of the action cam. Indeed, it is not product quality that is the primary determinant in GoPro’s ascendance. Instead, it is their keen ability to form partnerships with highly visible action sports athletes to get those athletes to endorse the brand.

While other action cam manufacturers like Contour were spending 5% of their annual budget on Research and Development, GoPro was continually reinvesting into athletes who were performing at live events. The result was that the GoPro quickly became a household name as people glimpsed their conveniently placed products on TV, while other brands like Contour languished. In fact, because of Contour’s unwillingness to re-invest in proven marketing channels, it actually declared bankruptcy and was effectively a dead company until late last year.

The aim and thesis of this article is to illustrate that, while in the digital realm marketing remains heavily data-driven, it is the marketing fundamentals that continue to be utilized by the bigger brands in the space. After all, GoPro didn’t become famous because of incremental product iterations like Tim Ferris did. Instead, it identified a pre-existing, tested marketing channel (televised live events) and continued to reinvest in it until it emerged as a multi-billion dollar category leader. Both approaches can be equally effectively and the one you take with your company will ultimately be determined by the size of your marketing budget.

Consilience Conference

Evolution in Biology, the Human Sciences and the Humanities

Poster Winners!

  • Best Overall- Mathias Clasen
  • Best in Biology- Neil Buttery
  • Best in Social Science- Emily Newton
  • Best in Humanities- Michael Hernandez
  • Best Poster That Involves Primary Research in At Least Two of the Three Areas- Mathias Clasen
  • Best New Investigator- Jason Collins

About the Conference

Speakers at this conference are all top researchers in biology, the social sciences, or the humanities. All the speakers know the level of consensus in their fields and can recognize major changes taking place, identify the major unsolved problems, and point toward future directions of research. They can all also discuss relations among at least two of the three areas (biology, the social sciences, and the humanities).

The conference features morning and afternoon sessions for each of three days. Each session contains one speaker from biology, one from the human sciences, and one from the humanities. We’re aimed at maximizing the interaction among the three areas.

Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows are invited to submit poster proposals.

A Better Approach To Consumer Research

Shopping for the products we need or simply want can be a time consuming endeavor. Everyone wants to get the best product for the best price, something that’s going to meet your needs and fit your budget.

The internet has provided a flood of resources to browse and research any kind of product you can imagine. But digging through countless reviews, comparing product features and prices and making sure that what you’re reading is accurate can be extremely time consuming.

Reviews by the actual users of products are an invaluable source of information. Typically they can be trusted to be unbiased but it’s quit easy for product manufacturers to fake these reviews so sometimes it can be difficult to know which reviews to trust and which are just shills.

Professional reviews are a better approach. Sites like do the work for you, sifting through dozens or even hundreds of product options, comparing their quality, cost and features. They also look closely at customer reviews and incorporate the combined insight and feedback of dozens of users who contribute their unique perspective on how good a particular product performed for them.

Sites like this employ professional product reviewers who know how to find products with the features that people with very specific needs are looking for, not just offering generic shopping advice.

One good example of this is a recent review of theirs where they cover the best headphones for running. A pair of headphones intended to be used for running or any other kind of exercise requires unique features that might not be a consideration for a consumer looking for headphones for use on a plane or at the office.

When shopping, seek out sites like that look for the best product for very specific needs to help you with your buying decision. You’ll save a lot of time, money and end up being a more savvy shopper.

Why China Appeals to Those Seeking Internships and Full-Time Jobs

Recent years have seen a marked increase in students moving to China to take internships and full-time jobs. Whereas previous decades saw ethnic Chinese uproot themselves and travel abroad in the pursuit of work, and in so doing creating communities of huaren, or overseas Chinese across the globe, we are now seeing this tradition be inverted. Sure, illegal immigrants still drive much of New York Citys economy, but as Chinese once migrated overseas to the US in the search for opportunity, so are increasing numbers of Americans and Europeans traveling to china in search of work.

For evidence, look no further than President Barack Obamas 100,000 strong initiative, which is intended to send 100,000 American students overseas to study in China by the year 2020. The US government appears to be embracing this new development, and so are young people worldwide, many of whom are facing sluggish 2 percent growth in western economies and unemployment topping 20% in Euro-zone countries like Spain and Italy. This year, look for more people to travel east to China, for internships and jobs.

While Chinas Tier 1 cities like Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Beijing have long attracted foreigners, there is the continuing trend of people going to Tier 2 and tier 3 cities as well. In one case study, China Internship company SmartIntern, whose founders started their China careers in Shenzhen and Wuxi cities respectively, recently opened offices in Shanghai. This illustrates yet another trend for expats building careers in china- they start in Tier 2 cities before eventually moving on to Tier 1 cities.

The appeal of Tier 1 cities for expats is largely a cultural one. In these cities, amenities comparable to those in ones home country can be found easily, and while you can expect to pay around a 20% markup, and oftentimes much higher, for things like imported beer, the consensus is that these purchases make a big contribution to ones bottom line happiness. Look at Shanghai as an example- in Shanghai, you have pretty much everything you would need, including a French-owned chain of bakeries, numerous wine and beer shops, and a foreign French population of around 50,000 French nationals. While the French influence does not dominate Shanghai in the way that it did in the 19th century, it remains a powerful and staying influence.

As a capital of culture, Shanghai leaves little to be desired and thousands of French graduates recognize this, heading to the metropolis to begin careers for themselves upon graduation from university every summer. These graduates come for the jobs but stay for the culture in this thriving metropolis.

While Shanghais visa regulations have recently been updated to reflect the growing numbers of foreign nationals working in China, the reality is that the CCP is unlikely to stamp out illegal employment of foreign nationals in China anytime soon. Chinese bureaucracy is full of grey areas and uncertain boundaries, but in spite of this, foreigners in China have managed to find niches for themselves to carve out a living for centuries, dating back to the 18th century traders who more than any merchant class were able to thrive in the far east. While it has become a popular motif to say that, historically and in the present day, the only foreigners who have truly thrived in Shanghai are the traders, while the rest have been victims of institutional bureaucracy and discrimination, this is simply not true.

The bottom line- look for employment, both legal and illegal, of foreign nationals to grow in China over the coming years.