During my time in undergrad at Miami University, I was fortunate enough to take a research course while studying for my degree in Marketing. This course taught us how to conduct, analyze, and report findings based on acquired data. In turn, this data-driven research could be used to provide strategic business recommendations on product launches, segmentation, brand enhancements, and targeted communication efforts.
It was in this course that a light-bulb went off in my head where I realized the key to succeeding in marketing is all in the data. The brands, consultants, and people who are able to ask the right questions, store the data properly for easy access, and analyze it for strategy development are the ones who will excel in their marketing efforts. Every day we collect thousands of fragmented pieces of data, from both anonymous and known online users, that can be pieced together to form a clear picture of your buyer’s wants and needs. As a marketer, this is a goldmine.
The key is to step-back from the daily grind and look at your strategy from the top down. Our inboxes tend to be a blur of new priorities from various stakeholders rapidly changing at any given moment. By stepping back and putting on your strategy hat, you can start to make the most of your data by following these four steps:
1. Collect the right information: Anytime a visitor wanders onto your website, opens an e-mail, makes a purchase or clicks an ad, your system is aware of this activity. Other times, you collect information from buyers by asking about their preferences and noting their purchases. While data is extremely valuable, it is even more valuable when you can directly apply it to your business needs. Make sure that the information you’re collecting is not extraneous, but targeted and strategic – always have a clear goal in mind.
2. Store everything in a central hub: From my experience, it is common for companies to have their data scattered about multiple systems. Some of it lives in outdated excel sheets, while some is stored in CRM systems not optimally designed to achieve your goals. Now that you know what data you are collecting across the entire organization, it needs to be stored in a central hub to help you build out segments. By allowing all departments to have access to all information, it provides new insight to make the most informed decisions in any department.
3. Analyze your data: With all of your data being in one central location, it suddenly becomes easier to perform data analysis. Anytime I start to analyze data, there are two approaches I take. In the first, I have a specific question in which I want to find a solution. In the second, I explore the data to see what I can find. You do not need to be an expert with data to discover what is working and what needs improvement, but you need to be curious as you look at the information that you have. If you have a Data Scientist, this would be a good time to pull him or her in to see what insights can be extracted.
4. Implement Insights: The last, and most crucial step, is to implement the insights you just discovered. If you notice that your customer base makes 3x more purchases on weekends then during the week, you might want to setup an integrated marketing campaign to monopolize on insight. By setting the campaign up as an A/B test, you can test the validity of your research. Always keep testing – nothing is every constant and your business needs will always continue to change.
Data is everywhere. It provides unique understanding of your customers where you get to know them individually, instead just a line in a list. Make the most of your data and make it a simple process for you. Marketers have enough on their plate without having to dig through 30 different vendor software platforms for information when it is time to execute a simple marketing campaign.
For more information on IgnitionOne’s Data Management Services, click here.