It’s 2018, and the marketplace is always open. Consumers are wired 24/7 into an all-you-can-eat digital buffet of choice. Anytime and anywhere, the internet beckons with literally millions of pages of content and products and curiosities to explore. Tapping into this endless, individually-tailored catalogue feels less like a chore than a reflex. It’s easy—even enjoyable. Or at least, that’s the objective of the brands battling to prove their quality, and—perhaps most of all—that engaging with them they won’t waste consumer’s most valued commodity: time.

When shopping is a quick glance through search results, brands win or lose in split-second intervals. Marketing leaders know that leaving those millisecond impressions to chance is bad business. To fine-tune their understanding of what drives consumer choice in critical moments, leaders look to the data. They use integrated platforms to gather info on consumers’ most prevalent trends and habits, and tailor their tactics to catch customers at the opportune time.

A recent study of 1,700 consumer and B2B marketers (by Bain & Company in collaboration with Google) shows that leading marketers—those who scored in the top 20% for revenue and market share growth—are 1.6 times more likely to prioritize integrating technology such as machine learning into their platforms as a strategy for compiling relevant data. The research also identified three core strategies common to leading marketers that facilitate deployment of ads with pinpoint precision.

Leaders Use Digital for Max Impact

Adidas’ Head of Digital Experience Chris Murphy believes that customer experience can be augmented using audience data. “If you want to be truly consumer-centric, you have to think digital first,” Murphy said. Adidas’ marketing teams work cohesively by sharing digital insights to develop and test sequenced messaging. Keurig uses a similar strategy to promote its coffee pods. Using digital data, they determine customer buying history and target ads accordingly. Such strategies enable Keurig to direct information toward customers who find it useful.  One example might be sending an email introducing Keurig’s range of flavor options to a customer who recently bought a coffee maker.

Leaders Take Control

Digital marketing veterans employ marketing and ad tech to target ads across all available channels, from programmatic display to search ads and emails. Some companies, such as Ritual Cosmetics, prefer to manage their marketing technology in-house. Ritual relies on dashboards that provide near real-time customer data to guide media investments. Digital director Martijn van der Zee notes that since Ritual started managing its own ad tech and analytics, “we saw a relation between what we do in countries in terms of awareness and how that impacts performance-based channels like email and paid search.”

Leaders Share What They Learn  

Keeping data fresh—and available to all—enables the adoption a data-centric approach across an entire organization. Top marketers are 1.7 times more likely to “refresh their most critical marketing metrics and dashboards at least weekly,” according to Bain. Outcomes can only improve if valuable information is up-to-date and accessible by any whose work could benefit from it.