Using Data Insights to Make Better Marketing Decisions and Drive Better Results
Big data is a ubiquitous term these days. It seems as though everyone from marketing to tech companies to well-renowned journalists are using this phrase in their writing. We’ve even discussed big data in marketing a time or two on our own blog.
Though the origins of the term itself are somewhat debatable, most users today are in consensus about the definition of “big data” in 2015. According to Wikipedia (the inarguable source of all knowledge these days), big data refers to “a broad term for data sets so large or complex that traditional data processing applications are inadequate. The term often refers simply to the use of predictive analytics or other certain advanced methods to extract value from data, and seldom to a particular size of data set.”
Big data can have different implications for different industries, including technology, government, economics and even marketing. In each case, it is not the definition of big data that carries the weight. Instead, it is how that data is used in each industry, how the insights gained from data are applied, that make the difference.
Putting the data to work for your organization in a way that is relevant and purposeful is what matters. Collecting data just for the sake of collecting it, with the promise of eventually analyzing it and implementing your findings, just won’t cut it. To effectively harness the power of big data, you have to apply the insights you gain to your organizational activities.
The Rise of Insight-Driven Businesses
Companies and organizations that are utilizing the data and analytics they collect to shape their business trajectory are being dubbed “insight-driven businesses.” Like the term big data itself, these subsets of businesses are on the rise. More and more business owners and leaders are using the data points gleaned from research and analytics to shape their decision-making and thus, the growth of their companies.
Technology consulting firm Capgemini recently released a study on insight-driven businesses. The group surveyed 1,000 senior-level decision makers in nine different industries to gain a better understanding of the market’s changing direction. The resulting report focused on the impact data insights are making in the way leaders operate their organizations.
Though the report was segmented to focus on nine different industries, four major themes emerged across the spectrum of business owners Capgemini studied. These themes can apply to medium-sized business or large corporations in any number of industries. Regardless of the piece of the market you own, you can apply the principles Capgemini compiled to your organizational operations.
The Four Major Ways Data Insights Are Changing Business
From its research, Capgemini drilled down to four primary ways in which data is shaping business today. Those four changes include:
- Data is driving business efficiencies. Businesses today are able to produce better work with less effort, thanks to insights into opportunities to streamline processes and integrate technologies that reduce the need for multiple systems or resources.
- Data is driving existing business. By analyzing purchasing patterns and consumer behaviors, organizations are able to better target their existing customer base with opportunities for new products and services to increase revenue.
- Data is driving new sources of revenue. With the same analysis of purchasing patterns and consumer behavior, businesses are able to identify opportunities for growth in new areas or creation of new products and services based on market demand.
- Data is driving monetization opportunities. Companies are capitalizing on opportunities to monetize the data collected from different sources, through programs like geo-targeting, that increase revenue streams through alternative methods.
From these four themes, it is easy to see that big data is causing a major paradigm shift in business. In fact, Capgemini found that 64% of companies it surveyed believe that big data is changing the traditional boundaries of business.
Being informed about these changes opinions and perceptions can help you stay up on the data game.
Applying Big Data to Marketing
As a digital marketing agency, we long ago abandoned the “traditional boundaries” of marketing and business. In our case, the traditional boundaries would be the conventional principles of outbound or interruption marketing, not the inbound methodology of attracting prospects, converting leads, closing customers and delighting brand supporters to which we subscribe.
Whether inbound marketing is a part of your overall digital marketing strategy or not, the implications of big data and the changes it is causing in our space are apparent. Data is, or should be, one of the primary driving forces behind every marketing initiative you execute.
When you are a marketer, data should be the primary tool you use to determine all of your plans, from content calendars to email campaigns, from keywords to website design. Without data, how do you know if what you are executing is worth your time and effort?
You could spend an entire quarter thoroughly mapping out a plan to market a new product launch, including developing ad creative, securing placements in print and online, composing a series of emails to market the new product, and writing a lengthy white paper on the benefits of this product for your consumers. You could spend countless hours dreaming of what the increase in revenue from this new product will mean for your organization. Your stock will rise! You’ll get a raise! You’ll get a promotion!
But, if you launched into the planning before you took time to collect and analyze the data, your dreams of vacationing in Aruba could disappear. If you launch a new product without understanding whether your customers need–or even want–this new product, then all of your efforts could be wasted. And worse, your company could have spent countless hours and resources developing a plan that doesn’t fit with your target market.
That’s where becoming an insight-driven marketer becomes critical. Without testing, analyzing and compiling data points on your marketing activities, your efforts could be for naught.
So how can you as a marketer incorporate the tactics of big data and insight-driven businesses into your daily role?
- Target new customers.
Data, big or small, can be a powerful tool when you are targeting your buyer personas to acquire new customers. When you really understand your buyer personas, what they are searching for, what their challenges are, and what drives them to act, you can tailor your marketing efforts and messaging to appeal to these potential customers. With this data, you can utilize tools (such as Facebook’s ad targeting platform) to drill down and present the right message to the right audiences, acquiring new customers along the way.
You can also use technology to target new customers include using data for geo-targeted marketing opportunities, location-based services, and mobile offers. Understanding where your target audiences are active and engaged will help you understand which platforms to use to market to these potential new customers.
- Target existing customers.
Using similar resources available to target new customers, data insights can help you target your existing customers to upsell and cross-sell as well. It can be as much as six times more costly to acquire a new customer than to extract more revenue out of an existing customer. When it is much more cost-effective to upsell to your existing clients than it is to acquire new customers, why would you not target your existing customer base first?
Analyze your existing customers’ purchasing pattern to determine which products or services they find most valuable. Engage in social listening to understand what your customers are expecting or asking for.
For example, if you send an email newsletter promoting five products, but the majority of your customers only click the link for more information on two of the products, focus your future marketing efforts on those two products instead of continuing to promote all five and hope you generate sales.
- Identify new opportunities.
From the data you collect on purchasing patterns, from the conversations you monitor on social media and from the metrics you gather on your website conversion opportunities, you may find that your customers or buyer personas are demanding information, products or services that you do not yet currently offer. This could help you identify new business opportunities for your potential and existing clients.
You can use Google Analytics to measure which pages of your website are most popular or at what times of day your customers are visiting your site. If your ecommerce site sees increased traffic before 8 a.m. on a consistent basis, maybe you want to offer an early bird sale to your database.
By listening, analyzing and evaluating, you may find new opportunities to leverage your business. Through web and social analytics, you may discover that your audience is craving more of your product in a different setting. Your product can meet their needs but not in the outlet they are demanding. So, how can you leverage your product to be in the place where your customers are looking for it?
Positioning yourself as the answer to their needs will open the door to new business opportunities and drive additional revenue streams for your company. But you have to utilize the data available to you first.
- Create business efficiencies.
In the Capgemini study, creating business efficiencies referred to the concept of integrating software platforms or leveraging existing tools. In the marketing realm, big data can be used to create business efficiencies by allowing you to do more (and better) work with fewer resources through iteration.
Once you determine which types of marketing activities work best for your intended audiences, you can take those ideas and action items and expand upon them for your next campaign. Analyzing your marketing metrics will allow you to create opportunities to iterate what is working and not waste your resources on what isn’t.
That’s not to say that your marketing should become stale, but instead, it should become more targeted, and more effective for your intended audiences. Why should you start at ground zero every time you are ready to launch a new campaign? Using data from your previous efforts and applying the results to future marketing plans will help guide you in the right direction, while saving you time along the way.
Metrics to Measure
Harnessing data and analytics can be powerful for transforming your business and helping you to reach new audiences. But what good does this do you if you don’t understand the numbers you are looking at? How can you set this up to collect the data you need to make informed marketing decisions?
Here are a few suggestions for metrics to measure when evaluating the data you need to become an insight-driven marketer:
- Email open rates to understand best subject lines, content and send times
- Click through rates on specific links to determine engaging content or CTAs
- Time spent on site to know which pages or content are most valuable
- Views, shares, likes and comments on blogs or social posts to gauge audience’s interests
- Sources reports on your Google Analytics or content management system to understand how visitors are finding and arriving at your site
- Social listening and monitoring tools to engage in conversations about and related to your brand
- Coupons to track which offers are most appealing to your buyers
- Surveys from existing clients to gather detailed information about your product or serice
- Qualitative reports from CSRs who interact with customers regularly to get a first-hand understanding of what really matters to your clients
With data from these sources, you’ll be a savvy, data-driven marketer in no time.
Tell us, how have data and analysis shaped your business and marketing decisions?