FRIDAY 1 DEC 2023 9:37 AM


Sarah Fleming, director at The Right and The Left marketing and communications consultancy, talks to Communicate magazine about how data can help to maximise creativity.

How are you seeing businesses integrate data into communications strategies?

When we look at how we can use data to enhance internal communication strategies, the principles unsurprisingly follow those we’d use to market to our customers externally.

What is the data we’ve got telling us and how can we use it to optimise our communications? Many organisations for example, use digital feedback platforms to help ‘read’ the temperature across the organisation; gathering insight much like we would about our customers from employees can help inform internal comms priorities better than anecdotal feedback and ‘corridor whispers’. Businesses are also starting to use data from feedback platforms to help give more quantifiable transparency to where the organisation is doing well and areas for improvement.


What aspect of data have you found businesses struggle with the most?

In many ways businesses have gone from being data poor to data rich at exponential speed. The biggest challenge facing them now is finding the single source of truth amongst it all. Collating data, particularly internal data that may be across many formats and sources, to a single location and then working out what it’s telling us is the first step to unlocking its power. To do this successfully, you need to have someone internally who has an understanding of all the data sources across the business, or work with a partner such as The Right & The Left to help unlock its value.


How can data enhance communications campaigns?

 Whether we’re communicating to an internal or external audience, at the end of the day, we’re talking to humans. As humans, we are increasingly seeking and expecting more personalised, relevant communications that show the brand or business understands us and what we need at that point in time.

As businesses, we all hold a lot of information and data about our employees, yet we rarely use it to help tailor what and how we communicate with them. Businesses who can apply the principles of personalisation internally will shape far more effective communication strategies that tap into the interests, preferences and motivations of individual employees.


How can data change relationships with customers and stakeholders?

Data, when interpreted with the help of some behavioural science, helps us to better understand people, what they want and ultimately why they do what they do.

When we have that deep understanding, be it of our end customer, our employees or any other stakeholder, we know where they are today and the belief or behaviour shift we need to drive to get us to the outcome we want. That insight gives us the ability to craft considered, intentional and strategically-focused communication strategies rooted in affecting human behaviour.


 Why is it important that data and creativity are intertwined and how is this achieved?

Marketing effectiveness theory shows a strong correlation between creativity and the impact, or effectiveness of a communication. This is as true for internal communications as it is externally with customers.

We must ensure the triad of what (we’re saying), how (we’re saying it) and where (we’re saying it) are working together. Data helps us understand what the audience needs and wants (messaging, personalisation etc.) and where we should say it (channel preferences, behaviours).

Creativity helps us in shaping how we’re saying it. Based on what we understand about an audience and its behaviours, how could we deliver the message in a new format or engaging way? What might help get their attention or disrupt their day?

We don’t have the insight without the data. And we can’t unearth creativity without the insight.