Back to basics: The five Ws and two Hs of individualised marketing science

Michael Minami, vice president of advanced analytics solutions at RAPP, has more than two decades of experience in digital marketing/CRM, strategy, product and program management, management consulting, and systems integration across the automotive, media and entertainment, communications, finance, government, and health care industries.

We live in a 24/7 culture, constantly connected with all of our technological advances and smart devices and hyper-personalised media outlets. That is especially true while we’ve lived and worked at home so much since early 2020.

As marketers, we also tend to enjoy living in our own self-created, nonstop working world, filling calendars with meetings and events, always being available, and racing to get the current campaign deployed without any reflection or rest before starting the next campaign. This frenetic, never-quite-catch-up cycle repeats itself until the marketer is exhausted and frazzled, without the necessary time to stop and return to the basics that are our foundation.

Let’s find that time. It’s there if we prioritise correctly. So let’s relax and meditate a bit. Put the devices down, play some soft music, or simply take a walk to clear the mind and get back to basics.

To this end, the “5 Ws and an H“ are fundamental to the information-gathering needed to fully understand context and situation: who, what, where, why, when (and how). That is why journalists and detectives are taught to use this alliterative framework to guide their efforts. Individualised marketing science requires this understanding of context and situation as it applies to individuals and marketers. In addition, a modern look at the five Ws (and two Hs) for individualised marketing science requires a deeper dive into data and how it supports the advanced analytical modeling we do.

Clarifying the five Ws

It sounds absurdly simple to even novice marketers, but one of the Ws is particularly important to understand: Who? Who are you trying to reach? The answer will shape every other marketing decision you make, from messaging to media placement.

From there, determine what you want to present to your target audience (and where). There are so many channels and so many formats to consider — from advertisements on a popular podcast to short videos on YouTube and everything in between. The options are nearly limitless, but what you show (and where you show it) hinge completely on that first W and who it is you want to reach.

The next consideration should be timing: When do you want the audience to receive your message? Which month of the year, day of the week, time of the day, time after trigger event, or time between messages is optimal? When people tune in can make a world of difference in how your messaging is received.

Of course, never forget why you’re making these decisions: Why is this message so important? Why do customers engage or transact? Why are you so passionate about this specific campaign? And finally, how should you deploy and track messages to individuals? Adding a second H, how much value was generated versus how much did the campaign cost?


As 2021 continues to unfold and life begins inching back to some semblance of normalcy, let’s get back to basics by answering the five Ws and those equally important two Hs, and then focus on diving deep into each of them for every individualised marketing science project. This requires extensive exploration, interrogation, and analysis of the data — think hyper-specific and hyper-granular when assessing the data available. Chances are that you won’t immediately have data tied to individual, campaign, ad, content, image/message, deployment, response, etc. — which are the data required for individualised marketing science — but that should be the goal.

Clearly conceptualise the individual consumer journey across marketing and conversion touchpoints, and define terms, KPIs, transition points, and objectives. Perhaps most important, start with the end in mind. Have a clear set of use cases for analysis and modeling that cuts across audiences, marketing messages, and value.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person?

Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.  

View Comments
Leave a comment

One comment on “Back to basics: The five Ws and two Hs of individualised marketing science

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.