An overview of recombinant data and how combining data sets such as keyword impressions, page sessions, related search listings, competitor rankings and social media data can unveil transformative business insights.

According to a study by IDG Research, the average business draws data from over 400 different sources but almost half of respondents say their analytics and reporting efforts are held back by complex data environments.

Today’s marketers have access to vast amounts of data but making full use of it remains a challenge. In this article, we look at a process called recombinant data and how you can use it to channel data from multiple sources and extract transformative insights.

What is recombinant data?

Recombinant data borrows its name from biological terminology where, in genetics, “recombinant DNA” refers to the artificial creation of genetic material by combining DNA samples from multiple sources. This produces recombinant DNA (rDNA) that none of the participating genomes could produce by themselves.

In data science, recombinant data refers to the combination of data from multiple sources to create insights none of those sources could produce by themselves.

For example, our intelligent automation platform Apollo Insights pulls in more than 500 metrics from dozens of sources to compile an in-depth view of search performance. This makes our search data more reliable by overcoming any inaccuracies of a single source and it also allows us to gain advanced insights no single tool can produce.

Overcoming the weaknesses of single marketing tools

The purpose of recombinant data is to improve the depth and quality of insights by overcoming the weaknesses of using individual marketing tools.

These weaknesses include:

  • No single marketing tool collects all of the data available to you.
  • Generalist tools collect a broad but shallow set of data.
  • Specialised tools collect a detailed but narrow set of data.
  • People use tools based on preference and familiarity.

Limiting the depth and quality of your data limits your ability to turn insights into valuable actions. For example, we recently published an article looking at three ways to increase eCommerce sales with PPC, which explains how we pulled in data from the Met Office to maximise sales of a very specific product (dog coats) for one of our customers.

First of all, having access to this data allowed us to identify the link between rainfall and dog coat sales. With these insights, we could then use weather prediction data to automatically adjust bids for the product, based on weather forecasts, to maximise sales ahead of (and on) rainy days.

We would never be able to do this if we were only using Google Ads’ native reporting system. In fact, we wouldn’t be able to do this if we were only using search marketing data without addressing external factors and how they impact sales.

This is the power of recombinant data and why it’s so important in the new age of search marketing.

How recombinant data improves marketing insights

Recombinant data produces a greater depth and quality of marketing insights and, to illustrate this, let’s look at a basic example of how this works.

Let’s start with three metrics most search marketing platforms track out of the box, even if they call them something slightly different:

  • Organic keyword impressions
  • Organic page impressions
  • Organic page sessions

We can use these three metrics to determine two performance insights:

  1. Searches you are seen for and get good traffic from.
  2. Searches you are seen for but get little traffic from.

From here, we can look at the searches you’re gaining impressions from but not generating traffic and optimise these pages to improve results. For example, we might test different page titles and meta descriptions with the aim of increasing click-through rates.

Or, we might look at this data across all impressions and see that pages need to rank in the sixth position or higher to generate significant traffic.

We’re already turning this search data into marketing actions but we’re working with a narrow and shallow set of data here. So, what happens if we start bringing in data from elsewhere, such as related search listings to each query?

By pulling this data in, we can quantify a third performance insight that our previous data wasn’t capable of:

  1. Searches you are seen for and get good traffic from.
  2. Searches you are seen for but get little traffic from.
  3. Searches you aren’t being seen for but should be.

Now, we’re finding new content opportunities where your search coverage isn’t stretching far enough. We’re finding new keywords, new content ideas and expanding your search presence to reach a wider audience – all by bringing in data from one new source.

So let’s take this one step further and bring in data from a couple more.

If we pull in competitor research data and keyword competitiveness data from Google Ads, we can now identify the easiest search opportunities to exploit.

  1. Searches you are seen for and get good traffic from.
  2. Searches you are seen for but get little traffic from.
  3. Searches you aren’t being seen for but should be.
  4. Low hanging fruit with high demand, little competition; and that you aren’t being seen for but should be.

By pinpointing high-demand searches with low competition, we can prioritise these opportunities with campaigns that’ll make the biggest impact, as quickly as possible. This means all of your search marketing resources are honed in on the biggest opportunities.

Moving beyond search data for deeper insights

We can use a recombinant system to combine search data from hundreds of different sources but we can gain even deeper insights by pulling in data from outside of the search experience.

Let’s pull in four more data sets, this time from social channels to analyse social profiles, track retweet ratios, monitor social topics and measure URL share ratio.

With these insights, we can find commercially beneficial industry influencers who are most likely to share your content. We can also determine what type of content you need to produce to maximise shares, whether you’ve already got it and what to produce if you haven’t.

With the search and competitor data we’ve already got access to, we can also evaluate the search competitiveness of this content, how your related content is performing and who else is producing this type of content.

You’re not limited to marketing data either. Earlier, we talked about pulling in data from the Met Office to track the impact of weather patterns on consumer behaviour and automatically optimising campaigns to maximise sales. Weather is quite an obvious influence on shopping habits (especially in the UK) but there are so many factors that impact purchase decisions: economic developments, news events, Twitter trends, major sporting events, government announcements, etc.

You’ve got access to all of this data and, with a recombinant system, you can pull it all into one platform to identify the external factors influencing the success of your marketing campaigns.