December 18th, 2020

5 Effective Audience Marketing Lessons from The Home Depot You Need to Know

Brave New Worlds 2020, our inaugural two-day virtual summit held on October 15 and 16, 2020, brought together the world's most respected leaders to address some of the hardest problems in digital transformation, marketing technology, and data science. This is the fifth in a series of seven blog posts recapping highlights of this event.

The Home Depot is the world's largest home improvement retailer: It operates more than 2,000 stores in North America, employs 400,000 employees, and its website scores 200+ million visits per month. But it's also one of those rare companies that have managed to combine enormous scale with personal attention for every single one of their customers. That's, in large part, due to its particular emphasis on audience marketing. In this pandemic year, that feat has made the company an essential business in more ways than one.

Dorean Kass, Chief Sales Officer at Neustar, caught up with Melanie Babcock, The Home Depot's VP of Integrated Media, during a fireside chat at the 2020 Brave New World conference. They discussed the effects of the pandemic on the business, but also the work that Babcock and her team did long before the pandemic to be prepared, as well as what still keeps her awake at night. Past, present, and future.

Watch the recorded session, which touches upon all the important topics in marketing today, to gain insights you can use to build your own audience marketing organization.

Watch the Full Session Now


How to Get Audience Marketing Right

1. Make evolution your #1 priority

Marketers are jugglers these days, trying to solve simultaneous challenges in technology, privacy, and shifting consumer behavior. Those challenges are all contributing to uncertainty, and while you need to tackle them head-on, you also need to develop an internal culture that embraces that uncertainty. Find out how The Home Depot became a leader in agile marketing and turned it into a competitive advantage.

2. Align your objectives with your company's KPIs

...not just marketing-specific KPIs, like return on ad spend (ROAS), or even sales, but KPIs that are central to the long-term success of your business. At The Home Depot, this means things like improved customer experience, or return visits to complete a project. You won't be successful with your marketing initiatives without the buy-in of your most senior executives, and you need to tell your story in terms they can relate to.

3. Take every opportunity to promote your values

March and April are the most important time of the year for The Home Depot. When the country went into lockdown, the company was classified as an essential retailer, and thus authorized to remain open. But what The Home Depot marketing team did with it will surprise you. They seized that opportunity not to press their advantage, but to show what the company stands for.

4. Get up to speed on martech and data science—now

The future of marketing will be data-driven. Babcock puts it bluntly: "If you don't understand how to use data effectively in marketing, you're not a marketer." Work hand in hand with your IT partners, and make the right investments in marketing technology. It’s "the foundation of our house," she says with a wink. But picking the right partners is a big decision. Find out how The Home Depot went about building its audience marketing practice.

5. Take a closer look at your first-party data—and you may discover that you're a media company

As they were considering how best to prepare for a world without cookies, The Home Depot realized they had first-party data that was not just indispensable to their own marketing needs but could also be used by partners looking to reach key segments of the population, like new homeowners or people embarking on a kitchen renovation journey. They started to see themselves as their own media group. You might discover that this could be a path for your company as well.

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