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To ensure your marketing department is effectively contributing to your business, you need an actionable, data-driven strategy. Data can reveal the strengths and weaknesses of every part of your business, allowing you to make strategic decisions that help your marketing efforts become more successful. 87 percent of marketers feel that data is their organization’s most underused asset. So how do you incorporate data-driven marketing into your business and start reaping the benefits? Here are 5 steps you can take to ensure you’re using data to effectively drive your marketing strategy.
1. Build Your Team
Before you start analyzing data, it’s important to assemble a team to handle that data. This team should include members from different departments and cross-disciplinary teams. As Richard Bayston suggests on Effin Amazing, “That doesn’t just mean someone from IT gets together with whichever guy from sales that managers think they can spare the best.” It means that you have to find individuals “who are willing to go beyond their areas of knowledge.” For example, “Data scientists have to be willing to learn about marketing; sales people have to be willing to learn about IT.” Prioritize the collaboration between these individuals by scheduling frequent, focused meetings in which everyone shares ideas and information and can take credit as a successful team.
2. Determine Your Goals
There’s one more step before you start collecting data: knowing what data is worth collecting. Determine what types of data can have a positive impact on your marketing strategy. Leave data that won’t be used to improve the effectiveness of your strategy behind, and focus on gathering data around key KPIs that can really move the needle.
3. Gather Your Data
Once you’re ready to start gathering your data, you’ll want to ensure you put it in one place for easier analysis. Consider collecting the following types of data:
- Target market
- Marketing & social media analytics (click-throughs, impressions, conversions, etc.)
- Customer data (including persona, transactional data, online activity, social network activity)
- Prospect data (same information as above)
- Qualitative data
...and MORE. Get started by asking the different members of your new team what types of data they create and consume and gather what you can from additional departments as well. As Jim Bergeson points out in an article for MarketingProfs: “Data is sometimes hiding in the inner resources of your organization—perhaps with dealers or resellers of your product or service, your sales force, or locked up in an IT vault.”
Once you have explored the data, you can learn what’s happening at every stage of the customer lifecycle, including information such as: issues at the point of sale, complaints or service calls, online recommendations, referrals and subsequent purchases.
4. Evaluate Your Data & Take Action
Evaluate your data against your KPIs, you can start using that data to drive your marketing strategy:
A) Refine Your Content Marketing Strategy: You might already use content marketing to attract and engage your audience. But you may not have a clear strategy behind your content or have a clear idea of who you’re trying to reach. When you have the data to make good decisions, however, you’re well on your way to success. You can even combine your sales and content market strategies seamlessly to earn more revenue.
Experiment with various kinds of content, including images, GIFS and video. If you’re already putting out quality content on a regular basis, this step will come easily. But don’t forget the most important part: engagement. When you give your customers what they want, they’re more likely to engage with your content. It may take some trial and error, but your data should help you determine how to best engage with your audience.
B) Consider a New Submarket: With all of the data insights you have, you may decide to create a new submarket for your products or services. This doesn’t mean you necessarily need to change your brand completely; perhaps you just want to modify who you’re selling to. For example, if you currently sell custom signage for birthday parties, but you find there’s a huge interest in similar products for weddings, you may want to tweak your marketing to target engaged couples and create a new line specifically for them. The overall goal is to look for opportunities in new niches and serve new audiences with your great products/services.
C) Remove Hurdles: Your data can help you determine the hurdles your potential customers are facing during the sales process. Now, you have to decide how to address those issues. Are customers getting stuck with items in the shopping cart? How can you get them to make the purchase? One example is Pura Vida Bracelets. This company promotes its content on Facebook and recently offered an exclusive, time-sensitive discount on its fan page to motivate shoppers.
D) Explore Alternative Marketing Channels
Have you discovered your business isn’t reaching all of its ideal customers? If your website is the only channel you use to share your products or services, your business isn’t likely to be sustainable. Your data can help you look into other channels and formats. You may want to try co-marketing opportunities with businesses with dissimilar products or start an affiliate program in which your high-value customers spread the word about your brand in exchange for discounts or other benefits. By analyzing your data, you’ll start to understand which channels might work for you.
5. Don’t Stop Testing
While data can help with developing a new marketing strategy, it must be frequently manipulated and tested. Matthew Buckley of New Breed Marketing states that testing your marketing your efforts with small experiments “can be achieved in a day.” Buckley suggests that you use the scientific method to do so. The goal is to be able to quickly and efficiently gather valuable data so you can continue to draw conclusions and build out new experiments. The more data you have and test, the more informed your marketing efforts will be.
Obstacles that Prevent Data-Driven Strategies from Succeeding
Achieving a true data-driven marketing strategy can be challenging. A new study from the CMO Council and RedPointGlobal titled “Empowering the Data-Driven Customer Strategy: Addressing Customer Engagement from the Foundation Up” pinpoints four hurdles that keep marketers from moving their strategy to execution. Issues included lack of real-time data, lack of technology, lack of internal cohesion and lack of customer focus.
The study found that only seven percent of marketers say they can always deliver real-time, data-driven experiences across multiple digital and physical touchpoints. And while 52 percent of marketers assert they can deliver some of these experiences, they can only do so via marketing-owned or digital channels. In short, many organizations are having trouble collecting and analyzing data in real time across channels.
To truly achieve a data-driven marketing nirvana, businesses need the right kind(s) of technology. One-third of respondents say they've invested in five to 10 individual solutions or platforms in the past five years, but many still don’t have the tools they need to have full visibility of their data. The issue lies in the connectivity of these solutions. Only 3 percent of marketers say that all their systems are completely in sync, connecting the data, metrics and insights seamlessly across channels. Fifteen percent also admit they have no strategy at all for developing their internal processes and technologies to adopt new cloud solutions into their legacy infrastructures.
Suggestions for Investing in Marketing Technologies
Ask yourself the following questions before you choose any new marketing tool.
- Data: Are you able to access internal and third-party data across departments?
- In-Line Analytics: Are you able to take the large amount of data you collect and create something actionable?
- Orchestration: Is the data and analytics in line with all of your engagement platforms?
Of course, there are many other reasons your data-driven marketing strategy could fail in addition to a lack of comprehensive tools. 54 percent of marketers say they have inadequate budgets, while 43 percent say their company hasn’t embraced a customer-centric culture and 32 percent say they lack C-suite support. Without that support, there’s no one to provide a budget (going back to point one). Additionally, silos are an issue. 23 percent of marketers say their customer engagement strategies are developed completely ad hoc by several siloed teams. And a disparate customer engagement strategy is detrimental to any marketing strategy.
It can be easy for marketers to get so wrapped up in their products and messages that we don't focus on what the customer truly needs and wants. Data can help you make better decisions across your business - but don’t underestimate the importance of buy in from your C-suite to ensure you have the budget and tools you need for success.
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