The data-driven agency truly stands out amongst the crowd of today’s top marketing agencies. Historically we, as brands, have often focused on the creative, digital or even tactical aspects. But that’s changed an awful lot over the past few years.

When I talk about a data-driven agency, I’m not talking only about the ability to leverage Google Analytics. Most digital agencies have that ability, but today’s data-driven agencies have learned to harness the power of big data to influence any number of agency activities and value ads.

Yes…. BIG data. Don’t let the word scare you. I recognized that most marketers and agencies think about the term, and may get a little skittish. That said, as an agency, you need to be able to use data management to gain a broader understanding of your client’s audience and customers.

There are a few key places that agencies can go after big data as a key differentiator. Not only can you better understand your client’s competitors and industry. But your modern marketer now requires you to understand the toolsets that help them better understand their markets, identify potential leads and to help them better leverage their in-house technology stack.

Below are three key spots where agencies can master data:

Social listening: This has been around for a while. The tools available in this sector are directionally good, offering positive, neutral and negative sentiment around anything you’re trying to understand in the broader market. It is a critical tool to measure market penetration, brand sentiment and even campaign effectiveness.

Intent data: As one of my favorite emerging offerings, many media, and technology vendors have stepped into the world of identifying accounts (and sometimes contacts) who are actively searching for specific topics. As marketers (and agencies), its critical that we understand how to use the tools available to identify these “surges” of activity, and to activate promotional marketing to take advantage of it.

Marketing automation data: So your client has one of the many marketing automation suites on the market. They probably use it mostly for email (sadly). But applied correctly, and with your help, they can begin tackling account and contact lead scores. This can trigger a number of promotional tactics. This includes nurture emails, but even better can align to account-based tactics, sales enablement and a whole host of optimizations around demand creation that top marketing agencies can be there to help support. TRUST me, we corporate marketers need the help, and not enough people (agency or brand) really grasp how to connect all the dots.

To net it out, I’ve discussed just a few of the types of tools agencies can and should leverage to better position themselves for the needs of today’s modern marketer. There are many more, and I’ll devote some time in future blog posts on the topic – because it’s extremely important!