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The news that Hillary Clinton had all but secured the Democratic nomination for president came as a surprise to some younger voters and fervent Bernie Sanders fans. But it was not surprising to anyone who had been watching the numbers behind her campaign, and her popularity with the majority of her party.

The former secretary of state won the largest states, but also the most votes, attracting 3.7 million more registered voters than her rival. She trounced Sen. Sanders on Democratic voters, getting almost 64 percent of their votes.

What do political campaigns have in common with brand campaigns? A lot.

For all the youthful energy and attention that Sanders’ campaign received, Clinton had the numbers — and the numbers where they mattered (urban areas, registered Democrats, voters more likely to vote, etc.) The sample of voters supporting her campaign were closest aligned to the sample of voters needed to secure the nomination.

Brand campaigns that go viral and garner excitement may get a lot of buzz, but if they’re not attracting actual customers — just like the actual voters — they’ll fall flat.

For brands, it’s critical they find out who their customers are, not just who they want their customers to be.

That means if the goal of your campaign is to attract the millennials to your brand, and the data show that your actual customers are over the age of 35, either your messaging is off-note, or you aren’t offering the right products.

And that’s OK. Learning to pivot and change your message to either attract the right people, or better communicate with your core audience, is the key to using data to propel your brand. A new product or product line may be just the thing to reinvigorate your business and intrigue your current and potential fans.

Three things to know about data and brand campaigns:

  • Always start with data to learn about your audience. Don’t make assumptions, and don’t be afraid if your audience isn’t who you thought they were.
  • Be ready to change your campaign messages or even your products if you are surprised by who is in your fan base.
  • Don’t scrap what’s working. If you find out your base isn’t who you thought, you’re not serving them with your messaging. Keep them and cultivate their loyalty by creating campaigns that directly address them and their needs.

Trends forecast:

More firms and brands will be looking to expand their efforts to use data to inform their positions and products. In fact, the data scientist was named the best job in America in 2016. The jobs command healthy salaries, and are expanding far beyond tech into retail, consumer behavior and health care.

Image analysis has become a critical component in marketing, according to the Content Marketing Institute. This will continue to expand, embracing the data that scientists can also glean from objects within images.

Alex Horner

Alex Horner is a number lover who started his career in languages and linguistics but turned to data and analysis in grad school. Spreadsheets are his true love, but you can also find him running the trails around Boulder with his black lab, Carl.
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