This post originally was posted on CMO Innovation and can be found here.
These days, we hear of businesses tapping on data analytics to gain insights and make data-backed, informed decisions on almost anything.
Be it market data for driving a promotional campaign or inventory data for planning storage or warehousing, businesses are looking to data to enhance business performance, identify issues or overcome challenges.
Data analytics, which used to be more strictly confined to data scientists or IT professionals within an organization, has now extended to all lines of business. In fact, business leaders are now encouraging company-wide, data-driven strategies that are aligned across business units.
As such, marketers, the one unit of business that traditionally probably dabbled least in data science, have started putting data-driven insights at the heart of their campaign strategies. Data and analytics have become necessities for marketing departments as they strive to better understand their customers, execute successful omni-channel campaigns, and influence their target audience in today’s competitive marketplace.
While working with data has become a part of many businesses’ DNA, how do marketers know that they are getting the most use of their data to make smarter decisions?
As a marketer myself, here are a few tips and tricks that I have learnt along the way to kick-start a marketer’s analytics journey, ensuring that the data collected turns into actual insights that are useful for critical decision making.
1. A good workman always thanks his tools (and team)
What is your end-in-mind? This is something you need to ask yourself and the larger marketing team before building your marketing tech stack and deciding what tools you need. It is also essential to have buy in from various lines of business to align on these objectives. Be it for social listening, web analytics, predictive analytics, CRM, BI visualization, or more, you will not know what is required to help you reach your goals unless you understand what you are trying to accomplish.
Once you have objectives, it helps to consult an expert. Not just any expert, but one who really understands data management so that you can ensure that the systems being put together make sense and are fool-proof. Having a technical marketing operations professional on your team will eventually allow richer customer analytics to be delivered to your executives anyway. It is also important that the foundation is well-set and that the tools are customizable, without having to rewrite the system for every new use case.
It is essential to have the right and business relevant plan, people and programs in place.
2. It’s all about the data (and customer)
Once the objectives and tools are sorted, for marketers, the depth and accuracy of data we collect on our customers will truly help define the insights and strategies we derive, and enable us to develop more meaningful relationships with our target audience in the long run.
For instance, how complete is the data we have and what other information do we need? At a customer touch-point, what else would we need besides a customer’s contact information and how do we get more details without bugging them too much?
Once again, the solution here lies with the tools. The right data enrichment tools help build a richer customer 360 view, without fatiguing the prospect with too many questions. Progressive profiling is a tried and true solution for capturing customer data, and has allowed us to do so over a period of time, without negatively impacting user experience. The more we know about our current and potential customers, the better we will be at audience segmentation, and at our jobs in general.
3. Put the pieces of the puzzle together
The data we get can be fragmented and it is important for marketers to piece the puzzle together to better understand the complete customer journey.
You may have the data, but are you seeing the full picture. Especially if you have multiple objectives and tech stacks (see point #1), and a mix of structured and unstructured data. Unifying all the data will be key to deriving real analytic value and driving tangible customer insights.
Moreover, no matter how technologically advanced your data management tools have become, it is essential to be able to make sense of all the data you have and come up with a single version of the truth. After all, the data still needs to be prepared in a way that all marketers will find useful. This is where the human-touch in marketing will still remain essential.
4. Numbers talk
Of course, everything is measured by results these days. Marketers need to deliver results that will reflect the success of their data-driven strategies or campaigns. Will the campaign drive better sales? Is the marketing spend (and investment in data analytics) justifiable? Was there increased customer retention? These are some questions we can ask and nothing speaks louder than results.
Customers today are spoilt for choice and their buying behavior is changing all the time. As such, it is becoming more challenging to gain and retain customers. The good news is that the key to building positive customer experiences and establishing long term positive relationships with your customers exists – it is in the data.
It is in the data that we capture at the various customer touchpoints, the market studies, the sales reports, and more. It is captured in the form of big data and here is where today’s marketers can gain their competitive advantage.