Now that people know how much data is available, marketers are expected to use that information to validate every strategic decision they make. Senior management wants to see the return on investment so it can show investors, shareholders, and the board of directors how the company is performing and what the cash flow looks like.
But management and shareholders aren’t always aware of data-driven marketing strategy and the complications.
Understanding Data Challenges
Numbers might seem concrete, but data can be manipulated or fail to show the big picture. The tools used to track ROI can be expensive and difficult to implement, or there might not be enough data to determine statistical significance. And bad data can block the flow of information.
Additionally, results that seem positive might be easily debunked as vanity metrics, inconsistencies can lead to a lack of confidence in the numbers, and many consumers use fake information when filling out lead forms, which can skew results.
The need for a data-driven marketing strategy also extends beyond management’s expectations. Consumers have increasingly high expectations and attention spans that seem to grow shorter by the day, so connecting effectively at all points of the customer journey can be difficult. But it’s critical in order to gain and retain clients.
A key part of overcoming these challenges is determining which numbers to track.
Setting the Right Key Performance Indicators
The right data can shape a thoughtful and cohesive strategy (and give management something to take to the board).
We live in a world where much of our consumer activities take place online, and it’s all being tracked. Google probably has a record of everything users have searched for and every video they’ve watched. That extensive data collection drives Google’s unprecedented ad targeting.
Such vast amounts of data can be overwhelming and seemingly random, so to stay focused, establish clear KPIs and an agreed-upon method for measuring results from the start.
KPIs can be program-wide or channel-specific. Generally, you should set high-level goals to guide you — ones that will net new names, user registrations, purchase behavior, etc.
Be mindful of vanity metrics such as likes or views. A comment or social share is much more valuable than a quick thumbs-up because users are taking more time to engage with your brand and sharing that interaction with their followers. A study by Nielsen found that 54 percent of the information that drives buying decisions comes from social media sharing, so give your audience content worth sharing.
Also, keep in mind that quick page views aren’t accurate metrics to measure success because they don’t show the whole picture. Does it really matter if you drove 100,000 people to your landing page if only a few converted?
Which Tools Are Best When Creating a Data-Driven Marketing Strategy?
Once definitive KPIs are set and data collection is underway, there are several tools marketers can use to understand their data and effectively create a data-driven marketing strategy.
- Google Analytics
Website analytics tools like Google Analytics will report on the actions your visitors take on your site, how they got there, what they purchased, how your content is performing, and more. You can also leverage Google Data Studio to collate additional reports from digital marketing channels outside of your website.
To learn about new Google Analytics developments, watch the Google Marketing Live event May 14-15. It will be live-streamed for the first time, and these announcements are relevant to almost all businesses.
Finding leads is easy; finding high-quality leads that actually grow your business is an age-old struggle. Marketing automation software like Marketo, HubSpot, or Pardot can help you capture, score, and distribute high-quality leads.
In a survey by MemSQL, more than half of executives said their most significant data initiatives in 2019 are artificial intelligence and machine learning. Good software helps you connect with customers who now control how and where they make purchases. Individual marketers can no longer sift through shopper information effectively, but strategically implemented software can.
The point of collecting data is to drive actionable next steps. Marketing attribution software such as Bizible will give you strategic insights into your customers’ journey every step of the way. With trends such as shrinking attention spans and excessive social media usage, marketers need tools that effectively help them understand how to best spend their resources.
Use of this software in small and medium enterprises has been limited, but it’s expected to grow, according to research by MarketsandMarkets. Global spending on these tools was already $816 million in 2018.
Salesforce and Oracle are great options for customer relationship management software. You can create a database to store information about your prospects and customers throughout their journeys, and this data will inform your decisions around ROI and retention. When you’ve seen where customers have been and what they’ve liked, you can accurately forecast their wants and needs.
The ROI here can be massive. Lucky Brand is projecting $11 million gains in its first year of using its CRM software. The strategy uses machine learning to ID customers even when there are no unique identifiers.
As you gather data, keeping the information accurate and safe is critical. Customer data platforms such as Segment improve the integrity of your data. According to a survey by PwC, 94 percent of CEOs believe data about customer or client needs and preferences is important. This software helps marketers show management that they’re taking consumer data just as seriously as their leadership team is.
- Google Analytics
Your options for data might be vast, even overwhelmingly excessive, but these tools will help you figure out not only which metrics to focus on, but also what to do with the insights you gain.Would you add any tools to this list? Let me know in the comments!
The original version of this article was first published on The Marketing Scope.