Danielle Guzman of Mercer

Presenting

Danielle Guzman

VP of Social and Distributed Content at Mercer

As the VP of Social and Distributed Content at Mercer, Danielle uses data to assess the viability of risky campaigns and predict the future of digital content consumption. Since diving head first into the world of insights-driven marketing and leadership, Danielle has seen data transform the careers of dozens of marketers—including her own.

Danielle Guzman of Mercer

WHAT IS MERCER?

Mercer is the largest human resources consulting firm in the world. Offering strategic advice and tailored solutions to their global client base, Mercer helps companies advance the health, wealth and careers of their most vital asset—their people.

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From data-averse to data-first

Danielle Guzman understands marketers who fear data. She used to be one. Looking at her resume, though, it’s a little hard to believe. Before she joined Mercer, Danielle founded AIG’s customer insights program. There, she managed a team whose sole purpose was to mine qualitative and quantitative customer data and provide strategic intelligence to every function of the business. Now, in her role as Global Head of Social Media and Distributed Content at Mercer, she uses data to maximize the impact of social media campaigns and predict the future of digital content consumption.


Her dramatic turn towards insights-driven marketing would make anyone wonder: how did Danielle get from data-averse to data-first?

Danielle explains how she tackled her fear at its source: “People often fear data because they don’t understand it, and they don’t want to admit they don’t understand it. So I first had to get comfortable with not knowing everything I needed to know about data, and then I had to get comfortable asking questions of people who knew more about it than me.”

Reliance on true experts and an understanding that we can never know everything sits at the very core of Danielle’s belief system. “Given the pace of innovation, there will always be more for marketers to know about data. If we wait until we know everything to start using data in our day-to-day, we will spend our entire careers waiting.”

As a marketing leader, Danielle seeks to help marketers fill gaps in their understanding of data. She does this by pairing creative marketers with more data-savvy ones, so they can learn from each other. “When we work with people whose skills complement ours, it maximizes our impact. I know marketers who have seen a massive payoff by acting with data, even if they don’t start out with much technical expertise.”

Since diving head first into the world of insights-driven marketing and leadership, Danielle has seen data transform the careers of dozens of marketers—including her own. Here are three positive impacts marketers can expect to see when they take the leap of faith to grow their familiarity and comfort with data.

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The more marketers incorporate data into their day-to-day, the more naturally it fits into their thinking. Danielle encourages marketers to use data to tell a story. This gives people something to talk about, and it opens the door for greater investment in their work.

“Without data, ideas are just opinions. Using data helps us vet ideas by getting to the ‘why’ behind them. As in, ‘Why do we think this campaign will bring in more customers compared to this one?’ or ‘Why do we think this channel will perform better compared to that one?’”

Data also has the power to instill more trust in Marketing within the business. “My team’s ideas are always met with enthusiasm when we put quantitative substance behind the qualitative story we tell about a program. People are even more receptive if we can use metrics that are relevant to them, and their objectives. So, instead of sharing a channel—or vanity—metric, like the number of impressions we generated, we will point to the attributed social media generated revenue. Everyone understands revenue, and so the entire room perks up.”

“Without data, ideas are just opinions. Using data helps us vet ideas by getting to the ‘why’ behind them. As in, ‘Why do we think this campaign will bring in more customers compared to this one?’ or ‘Why do we think this channel will perform better compared to that one?’”

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Marketing has to constantly innovate to stay relevant in a rapidly evolving digital landscape. Danielle’s team at Mercer uses data to inform their actions when trying new things and to tweak their programs as results come in.

“My marketing team focuses on digital channels, and those channels change every single day. There are new algorithms, new platforms, and new ways of using them. To keep up, we must use past performance data to come up with the freshest approach possible and then iterate on it in real time, or else get whiplash from changing trends.”

Danielle gives video as an example of how her team at Mercer resists simply following the herd and leans into creativity to deliver a fresh take. “By 2019, video will drive 80% of all internet traffic, and so there won’t be much of an advantage to doing video for video’s sake. So our team is trying to understand the ‘why’ behind the video trend. What makes it so powerful? So shareable? That way, we can execute in a unique way that delivers vital insights to our audience.”

To supplement the more qualitative, instinct-based work, Danielle’s team uses data to investigate the past success of different content types and channels. “Data supplements supposition. We look at data to see, for example, the channels where customers are most responsive to a similar content type. That way, we can identify a few leading indicators, break down our approach, and outline why we think it will succeed and where there is uncertainty.”

With analytics in hand, marketers can take educated risks. By tracking engagement with a given campaign in real time, for example, all outcomes become invaluable learning opportunities.

“When we launch a program, and the data shows that people are engaging with it and it’s getting us closer to our overall goals, we can start iterating and building out on that success. When the opposite happens, we are prepared to fail fast. We look at the data to see why people didn’t engage with the content or in a particular channel, learn from that, make changes, and then try again.”

Marketers on Danielle’s team understand that, with data, every outcome is an opportunity to learn. It’s an iterative learning process, and with that culture in place, everyone is less likely to make fear-based decisions, which ultimately limit one of their superpowers: creativity.

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Marketers like taking risks—placing big bets on fresh ideas. Indeed, Danielle herself finds greater job satisfaction in environments where she can do so. She sees that fulfillment and purpose can be real difference-makers in a marketer’s career, especially for those who are dedicated to their craft. Data makes risk taking, well, make sense.

That’s why it’s so important for marketers to focus on the ‘why’ of what they do. To maintain career fulfillment and momentum, Danielle believes marketers need to remain career-empowered.

“Having that personal ‘why’ makes us infinitely more resilient, regardless of the situation.”

With data, questions, and creativity marketers have great opportunity to find campaign—and career—success.

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