Marketers today have access to vast pools of data and associated analytics, all of which can provide a clear insight into online marketing campaign performance as well as product and service trends and business direction.

But despite this amount of information, many marketers don’t have a true understanding of their market conditions or where their marketing efforts are headed, and even if they’re effective or successful.

Too much information?

The issue is that your digital agency team will be more than keen to offer you as much data as you wish to receive, and will generally ask you what you want to know. This is good practice, but there’s more to it than that.

If the agency does not have close experience of your business and target market audience and buyer personas, it becomes difficult for them to establish what you actually need to understand in order to measure marketing performance.

One dimensional metrics

This means that the question ‘what do you want to know’ becomes a here-and-now question, and because of their lack of close understanding, what you will likely get are a series of market snap-shots rather than an insight into your product or service trends.

You might think ‘OK, I can live with a single dimension picture’  but in reality, this will not give you any real understanding of what is actually happening because a single dimension snap shot doesn’t give you a clear picture of trends.

Strategic thinking

So there are big dangers in being bombarded with too much data, or too little of the wrong data. In any event, and whichever way, you will not get a valuable market insight, and you won’t be able to track trends.

What has to happen is that you need to develop an understanding of precisely what you actually need to know.

And the only effective way of achieving this is to fully engage with your strategy and objectives, understand where you’ve come from; where you are now; and, critically, where you want to go.

Parallel delineation

Clearly defining your marketing strategy and objectives will help you to understand what you need to know. It will define success and will allow you to create a matrix that will help measure effective campaigns and the success of each element in that campaign.

But this is simply a matrix of performance indicators, and to make it fly you will need to define your target audience and its buying behaviours, and this is critical to the process as buyer behaviour is at the centre of all analytical intelligence.

Plan for the long-term

If you have not done this previously, you will need to work from the ground up, through the segmentation of available prospect and buyer data, augmented with information from open sources such as directories where necessary.

Marketing automation will also help longer term in buyer persona development and can be an extremely useful tool in not only tracking data but also in building prospect and buyer persona data.

Long-term gains

This probably seems like a long and protracted route to the ‘ what do you want to know?’ answer. But unless you know how your products and services resonate with your target audiences, and who they actually are and how they think, then you don’t have a starting point.

Analytics, and their interpretation in the right hands can drive commercial success. But data means nothing unless you know what you actually need to know from it.

This post was originally published on the Novacom blog.