“Do you let your dog sleep on the bed?”

Despite the catchy title (pet videos pretty much rule the internet) I’m actually making a point about the power of specific data-driven insights in marketing…and ultimately a ‘call to arms’ for marketers to dig hard into data to yield a singular, powerful insight.

Some background: Many marketers think of analytics and data-driven insights either as some crazy cool “AI-thing,” or some semi-incomprehensible tableau chart showing website visits rising 10% month over month. Problem is, there’s often not much you can do with something so aspirational (read: expensive) as AI or as mundane (and hard to correlate with specific return on spend) as a website engagement trend. So when I look to explain the value, the power, of a singular data-driven insight, I like to talk about dogs sleeping on beds.

The thing is, people who allow “pets on beds” will spend 5x the amount of money on their pets. Yes — FIVE TIMES the amount of money compared to those (like me) who grew up in households where the pooch stayed on the floor.

How do I know this? An old colleague of mine worked on a team that, using a variety of analytical techniques, discovered (and then repeatedly tested and validated) that people who let their pets sleep on the bed spend on average 5x the amount of money on their pets over the pet’s lifetime. Their client, an e-commerce company (selling pet food and supplies) was, needless to say, pretty darn happy with this insight and immediately instrumented their digital marketing to profile and target high-value audiences, with significant impact to revenue and marketing efficiency.

But it didn’t stop at the shopping basket. Their overall marketing messaging and advertising creative to pet owners reinforced the ‘pets on beds is OK’ to pull prospects towards the brand. Their packaging leveraged new visuals, and partnership strategy shifted towards companies with similar ‘beautiful home and bedroom’ products and corresponding brand personalities.

I congratulate both company and agency on their find, and I’m sure they continue to deploy a variety of tracking and optimization techniques to gauge whether this correlation still persists, or if there’s another ‘nugget’ or big-data insight that they should highlight. But the broader value of the ‘pets on bed’ insight is that it’s a catchy and humorous way to explain the potential of marketing analytics to clients, without involving the expensive or the mundane. It’s not that an AI can’t discover such an insight — it can. Or that repeated regression analysis of ‘mundane’ digital engagement reports couldn’t either — it could. It’s that all marketing professionals should feel comfortable looking to data to drive better work and better performing marketing campaigns.

In a client meeting a few years ago, I mentioned ‘pets on bed’ to explain how we were going to track the correlation between audience profiles, digital behaviors and business objectives. A young copywriter admitted she let her pet sleep on the bed, and then explained, embarrassed, that she was about to leave the meeting to go buy a new dog collar and chew toy for her pet.

I wasn’t surprised.

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