Harnessing the power of digital & data: learnings from CNP Global 2020

Tim Lawrence

Head of Strategy & Planning

Jody Minton

Creative Strategy Director

Joe Webster

Planning Director

At iCrossing we do Change as Usual and specialise in helping our clients adapt to constantly evolving landscapes. While on the surface the challenges that COVID-19 has ushered in can be daunting, they are giving all of us the opportunity to reassess how we have done things and shape the future now. 

At the beginning of 2020 when we signed up to be partners of the place brand conference, City Nation Place (CNP), we had no idea of how even more crucial our story of how place brands can leverage digital data to influence audiences, understand behaviour and prove effectiveness of marketing spend would be.

We have worked with the Welsh Government for a decade, both on the trade and investment side and tourism – so we know what we are talking about. CNP gave us a great platform to share how our close collaboration with the Welsh Government has evolved our communications to become driven by data and insight.

Audiences: how to stand out

While consumers may have similar demographic characteristics such as age, income and gender, they can have completely different attitudes, interests and behaviours. Head of strategy and planning, Tim Lawrence discussed how we used attitudinal personas in our Year of Outdoors campaign for Visit Wales to increase and surpass brand awareness and consideration KPIs. In this campaign, we used audience insight to identify five global outdoor trends relevant to both our target audiences and Wales’ strategic focus. These insights fuelled creative, content production and media targeting.

Behaviours: focus on the right stories and places

Consumer touchpoints are a complex web that differ strongly from person to person. For example, Google found that typically travellers may have 1,800 digital touchpoints over 4 months of planning, including 534 searches and 1,400 images or maps. We‘re obsessed with data at iCrossing; which Tim illustrated in his talk, outlining how brands can harness digital data to “navigate the messy middle”, understand behaviours and create and serve content at the right touchpoints.

To help Wales communicate COVID-19 public health messaging we used search trends, social listening and site analytics as well as our proprietary trend-spotting tool 'iX insight', to track COVID-19 conversation. Through our research we identified the concerns of our audience. Using a proprietary connector between our trend identification tool and our delivery platform, we were able to keep on top of COVID-19 conversations and, where necessary, respond automatically – and in real-time - to changes in areas of interest.

Effectiveness: being more measurable and accountable

Digital offers data points to prove impact as well as an opportunity to close the gap between trigger and purchase, locking them into your destination and supporting local or regional business in the process.

Our two round-table discussions led by client director Jody Minton and planning director Joe Webster homed in on the justification of marketing spend, something which is highly applicable to all brands in a 2020 COVID-19 context and even more acutely in the public sector.

When it comes to finding effective ways to release budget, the round-table attendees agreed that leveraging positive stories and working closely with more local partners was a winning formula. Our recommendations focused on educating key stakeholders on the value of measurement.

What was clear from the content throughout the day, and not only ours, is that there is a necessity for destination brands to continue to advertise. However, like all marketers they need to be considerate with the message and not overthink it; something that a strong data-driven rationale can assist with.

For more information on how iCrossing can assist with your data-driven marketing get in touch at results@icrossing.co.uk – we would love to help!

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