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4 Simple Data-Driven Steps to Boost your Business Growth — Sanup Pillai, Global Head of Digital Marketing & MarTech at DHL Express


Every industry, from start-ups to big businesses is using a data-driven approach to their digital marketing. Through this method, entrepreneurs and marketers can develop a personalised marketing strategy to achieve return on investment (ROI) for their business. 

But, before we get into how to execute an effective data-driven digital marketing strategy, it’s vital to know why you should create one at all. 

When you are trying to grow your business in a competitive economy, you’ll want to use your resources only on prospective customers.

We talked to Sanup Pillai, Global Head of Digital Marketing & MarTech at DHL Express, about how data-driven insights empower business change and ways to boost digital marketing campaigns.

What’s Inside?

  1. Sanup Pillai’s Career Journey
  2. Sanup Shares How Data-Driven Insights Empower Business Change
  3. 4 Simple Steps to Create Data-Driven Digital Strategies
  4. Ways to boost your digital marketing campaign-ROI
  5. Machine Learning in Digital Marketing-The Way Forward
  6. Lesson Learned
  7. Who is Sanup Pillai?

Sanup Pillai’s Career Journey

His foray into marketing started when he was appointed as Head of Global Digital Strategy and Technology at Mediacom Global.

Sanup Pillai is currently overseeing global digital marketing tasks including strategy, research, and insights at DHL Express. He is tasked with enhancing the digital marketing ROI and contributing to the improvement of wider business ROI. Sanup is also responsible for developing an extensive global digital marketing roadmap and framework as well as aligning with the team in deciding projects timeline and delivery.

With more than 12 years experience in digital strategy and technology consulting under his belt, Sanup considers himself a marketing professional. “I mainly look into global marketing strategy and technology at DHL Express.” 

Sanup Shares How Data-Driven Insights Empower Business Change

Customers want you to see, hear, and understand them. This requires the implementation of personalisation strategies at every point of the customer journey, which promises exponential growth for your business.

Sanup says if you’re new to data-driven and you are working towards your company’s goals, you need to answer the following questions:

  • What is it about? 
  • Who is it for? 
  • What is it for?
  • What are the intended actionable business outcomes and the target?

The marketing professional explains that your intended business outcome should say ROI is expected to increase by 5% or digital ROI is expected to rise by 10%. 

“A project cannot take off without a framework. At DHL, our first step is to set a target and then write the whole strategic framework to achieve the target,” said Sanup. With a framework in place, a business will be able to achieve its target within a year or two, he added.

Sanup also highlighted that an open discussion with the team is crucial as it helps to ascertain what the business hopes to achieve. This will motivate your team to work towards achieving growth and efficiency in the business. 

Needless to say, you will not get swayed away as you have reached a tipping point, if you know what you want to achieve and how you want to do that.

4 Simple Steps to Create Data-Driven Digital Strategies

There are four primary steps DHL Express relies on:

1. Establish Strategic Framework

The first step for any data-driven marketing strategy is to set up a strategic framework, which becomes the holy book of any marketing strategy. That holy book starts with looking at yourself and the company. 


2. Understanding your Company’s Data

Then, look into your own company, and understand your own data set. Deep dive. The first thing is to look into your data and create pillars because what forms the element of a data-driven approach is to have a pillar approach, a strategic framework and that pillars are nothing but the cornerstones of your strategic framework.


3. Setting the Pillars Right Crucial for Data Analysis

Having access to comprehensive data is a great advantage that could turn into a setback without a defined outcome for analysis. Large data sets can elicit a range of observations, findings and insights that could be useful or irrelevant to your business.

Without building the foundation, you won’t be able to erect the structure and that’s the strategic framework already driven by the approach that you need to set these pillars.


4. Experimentation and Acceptance

At the end of the day, data-driven reduces uncertainty and makes a better-informed decision. Experimentation and acceptance are the best way to do that. The reason why you’re setting this digital strategic framework is to make it stronger and more accepted. 

Always keep in mind that you’re making the strategic framework for your company that needs to be adopted by the people in different markets. For example, at DHL Express, when we set it up globally, we want the local and regional markets to follow suit.

They need to understand it and for them to understand you need to make it very clear and straightforward as well as ensure how this is bringing value back into the business. “How will this improve the marketing efficiency of marketing ROI?”

There are three simple rules to keep it simple, yet significant:

Firstly, work hard to make it easy for customers to understand in a simple language because simplification can be really hard. Then, make it more genuine and not based on assumptions because you need to achieve those objectives. Finally, you need to ensure the strategic framework delivers results by being more concise and thoughtful in your approach. 


Ways to Boost your Digital Marketing Campaign – ROI

Just like any other type of marketing, you need to determine the ROI of your digital marketing campaigns. Digital marketing campaigns are expensive but it’s a necessity. However, without a powerful digital marketing strategy, you can’t realize the full potential of your campaigns.

When it comes to ROI, the biggest concerns are how to reduce the cost and improve the ROI. To reduce the cost does not necessarily mean costs of marketing campaigns, instead cost can be reduced by factors like efficiency. 

One of the things that are helping to reduce costs and improve efficiency is the use of AI or machine learning in marketing optimisation campaigns. 

In the past when a team used to spend $10 over a period of eight hours versus a machine that is able to do the same thing in just two hours, you’re raising efficiency and lowering costs – a better outcome.

When you look at the ROI, the biggest outcome is the profit, but how you approach efficiency is also vital. My point is when you look at cost, you don’t just have to look at the costs of marketing campaigns. The cost of efficiency is also important, how efficient your operations are.

Analytics or insights will help to identify the potential problems. That’s pertinent to lowering costs beyond marketing cost. This can help you to bring down prices and raise efficiencies.

Machine Learning in Digital Marketing – The Way Forward?

Sanup said that machine learning in digital marketing is something to look forward to in the future because most customers are spending time online, and there is a better chance of people seeing brands being promoted online.

But, he also stressed the need for marketers to look at the numbers and spend more time behind insights even at a stage where machines are already in use to optimise operations. “Spend more time looking at analytical work, which helps us go back and have a feedback loop to know where we are going wrong.”

Look at the numbers, which you previously would not have had because you are spending so much time optimising yourself that you don’t get time to do things you should be doing.

Making that part more accessible by adopting an AI or machine learning helps us achieve and do boring things – optimisation.

Lessons Learned

  • You should always acquire new knowledge from any website related to your work. If you keep doing it right, you just become an expert.
  • The strategic framework will deliver the results if you do it in a more concise and thoughtful approach. 
  • Spend more time looking at analytical work, it helps to go back and use a feedback loop to know where you are going wrong.


Who is Sanup Pillai?

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