Marketing Has Evolved. So Let’s Talk About Evolution

The internet has changed everything.

It has changed the way we buy products, complicated the way we interact with brands, and upped the ante for our standards of what makes a great customer experience. Today, in the World of Tomorrow, marketing is not only a creative endeavor, but a technological one as well.

Customer data is the future. Collecting it has gotten much easier, but figuring how to take action with it still leaves many marketers scratching their heads. Here at Umbel, we are acutely aware of this and built our Digital Genome technology with this in mind. The essence of marketing hasn’t changed, but the system requirements have.

As a marketing professional, you probably have your own first-hand experience with the complexities of marketing in this brave new digital world. But if you’ll indulge me, let me tell you a story that will hopefully give some perspective on why understanding your customers’ DNA is so crucial. What I find fascinating about the data-powered evolution we are witnessing in modern marketing is actually its connection to the history of evolution itself.

Understanding Evolution
In 1859, Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species, which describes his famous theory of evolution by natural selection. This theory says that if having sharper claws and brighter feathers means that an individual stays alive longer and reproduces more often, future generations will have sharper claws and brighter feathers. That’s an oversimplification, but you get the picture. Survival of the fittest.

Upon publication, this theory provoked a great deal of criticism, especially from other scientists. While it was widely accepted that Darwin’s theory was genius, he could not explain how traits were passed from one generation to the next. Darwin thought that traits might blend. This explained why crossing a red flower and a white flower, gives you pink flowers. Darwin couldn’t explain why crossing two pink flowers produces red and white flowers, which it does.

It wasn’t until around 1900 that the work of Gregor Mendel was rediscovered and brought it all together. Mendel did his work around the same time as Darwin, but being a monk, his findings went unnoticed. He discovered that traits are passed between generations as particles that produce different outcomes in different combinations. Mendel was able to define mathematical models that predicted the probability that you’d get red and white flowers from crossing two pink flowers. This work became the basis for the field of genetics. We now call those particles DNA, and you can’t have a constructive conversation about evolution without it.

Embracing the Marketing Laboratory
So what am I driving at? Modern marketing needs customer data just like evolution needs genetics. Marketers are a curious and imaginative bunch. They eat big picture for breakfast. They have ideas. They have questions they want answered, hypotheses to test. In 2015, the marketing stack is their laboratory, and the Customer Data Platform brings it all together.

The marketing landscape has changed forever, but I think I’ve said enough on that. I’ll leave you with a quote often miscredited to Darwin, though I think he would agree.

“In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment.”