The logical benefits of data-driven marketing are well-established: consumer data provide invaluable actionable insights into the needs of the market that can then guide efficient and effective allocation of business resources. The problem is data analytics is a weak spot in many marketing campaigns: According to CMO magazine, 87% of marketers consider data their organizations’ most underutilized asset and only 19% of marketers track all of their marketing efforts in order to drive improvement via reporting.
The problem partly stems from disparate and disconnected data systems, varying internal teams and lack of strong analytical skills. To overcome these and other data limitations, start with the following pointers to develop a tailored and data-driven digital marketing:
Identify the key questions – A sound data-driven marketing strategy should answer three fundamental questions:
- Who is my perfect customer & what is their purchase behavior?
- What are the key drivers of my business?
- How effective are my marketing campaigns in influencing key business drivers?
As long as you can plan your data sources, set your metrics & reporting and conduct analysis to answer these three key questions, you have successfully created a tailored and data-driven digital marketing strategy. This should be followed by gathering, reporting and analysis of useful data to ensure a successful data-driven marketing campaign.
Develop a plan – Understand what matters. Then measure what matters. Make sure you have common company-wide goals, get cross-departmental buy-ins and enable communication between all key contributing teams including marketing, IT, data scientists and C-level suite.
Think about this – measuring returns on marketing investment is not a simple task. A marketing qualified lead (MQL) needs to be validated by sales for conversion and by services for an upsell. Unless the teams have a common goal and a unified approach, leading a sincere and a serious data-driven marketing strategy will be a challenge.
Develop the best metrics to track success – Once you have a data-driven marketing plan in place, shift the focus to which metrics will help you assess success of your strategy. If brand awareness is your goal, you could use time-series and share of voice metrics to track & report volume of social mentions, volume of search data, number & frequency of ad impressions, branded keyword traffic or direct traffic. A strong digital marketing strategy solutions background will help you decide on the best metrics to use.
Identify your best data sources and make them compatible – Your data planning should help narrow down appropriate data sources to track key metrics. Multiple sources of data are available on customer profiles and their behavior patterns, including primary sources, such as internal surveys & focus groups, website data, social insights, CRM data and secondary sources, such as third-party consumer data. Which sources are most likely to get you the information you need?
Sometimes, data sources may not be obvious and data may be hidden in point of sale (POS) database or customer service support databases. Build unique identifiers for customer data across the database so disparate data sources can ‘talk’ to each other.
Quality & comprehensive data collection –The challenge is to correctly set up data tracking and ensure comparability. A capable digital marketing agency that’s in tune with the rapidly changing capabilities of data tracking & analytical tools can help you set up data tracking correctly. They can even guide you towards suitable platforms based on your business need.
Here are some tips & tricks to help you collect more granular and comprehensive campaign and customer data:
- Google Analytics code installed on your site automatically tracks web traffic source. However, in order to track effectiveness of campaigns at a more granular level, ensure that you add the UTM parameters to all links that you promote. For instance, you may want to track conversions from a Facebook ad campaign that you ran.
- Adding UTM parameters to URL links will help Google parse very detailed information about the converting traffic, including source of traffic, medium (CPC, banner, email etc.), campaign term that lead traffic to your site (keywords purchased or term to define the campaign), campaign content and even assigned campaign name. This can allow detailed campaign specific success metrics to be read off your Google Analytics dashboard.
- Create conversion funnel – Creation of conversion funnels cannot be overemphasized. No matter how you define conversion (it can range from ecommerce conversions to sign-ups/opt-ins, content engagement or form submission), creating funnels allows you to examine the expected path visitors follow to convert. Significant drop offs, at any of the stages, can be seen through funnel analysis and corrected. Digital marketing specialists certified in Google Analytics can help you create funnels and help you get the most out of your data tracking options.
- Integrate online leads with your customer relationship management (CRM) software. With web-to-lead forms, streamline lead generation by capturing website visitor information directly into CRM, allowing ability to glean lead (individual) data from website lead forms.
- Google Analytics data is invaluable but what you get is aggregate website data and not insights into individual behavior. Consider other site analytics platforms, such as Kissmetrics, MixPanel or Heap which offer event data on individuals as they navigate your digital channels. If you are looking for very advanced segmentation, real-time automation and predictive analysis, Adobe Analytics is a popular enterprise data analytics platform. For smaller businesses, other alternatives to Google Analytics exist and you can explore some of them here.
Data Visualization/Data Reporting – Data reporting and data visualization strategy should depend on the core metrics and questions that your organization needs answers to. For starters, many data analytics platforms, such as Google, Kissmetrics, Mixpanel, Heap provide excellent data visualization tools. Ensure that data tracking is set up correctly to take advantage of these tools – set up goals & funnels monitoring in Google Analytics and you can access funnel visualization right off your Analytics admin dashboard. Google also includes other cool visualization capabilities, like site visit flows by source, region, pages etc., ecommerce purchase funnels, and more.
If your needs are more complex than what inbuilt analytics capabilities offer, or you are looking to integrate data from multiple sources, there are extensions and standalone tools such as Supermetrics & Megalytics that allow data import from various sources such as Analytics, Bing Ads, Facebook, MOZ, Twitter and more into one platform.
For enterprise level solutions, industry standard data visualization tools options exist, including Tableau, Qlik, Sisense and others. Whichever tool you end up using, set up data visualization to slice and dice data for a deeper-than-surface analytics.
Context-based and testable data analytics – Many marketers work on gut feel. It’s totally fine to have a gut feel. However, support your gut feel with data and test it! How? For starters:
- Translate that gut feel into a hypothesis. Plug in the metrics and test the hypothesis. Use the acceptance or rejection of the hypothesis to guide your future marketing strategies. Statistical testing should help you identify channel successes and deficiencies and provide elements that can be improved for better performance.
- Use data to adjust strategies and tactics and tweak processes as required – We recently ran an Adwords campaign for a Chicagoland-based dental clinic and saw below average conversion rates at the beginning. We then looked at Census economic and demographic data for the locality to find that the area was predominantly manufacturing & retail based and the income was 32% lower than the median household income of the county it was located in. We then changed our ad strategy to better meet the needs of a price-conscious consumer and saw our conversion rates skyrocket to an average of 30%.
- Use data to feed your cross-channel strategies – While developing PPC copies, for instance, use search query data from your search console and keyword planner search volume to buy most profitable words and vice versa.
- Create funnels and optimize each step – We recently audited the website performance of an online university and poured over the online application funnel to notice that 99% of applicants exited the funnel at Step 3 which required very detailed career information form fields. We recommended conducting an A/B testing by adding a version B UX by adding an overlay unit that would appear upon mouse move to X. The overlay was titled, ‘Tired of Typing? Let Us handle it. Request a call from one of our Admission Staff in minutes’ to address the type fatigue that explain the very significant funnel drop off.
- One of the most exciting trends in marketing is around personalization of website experience. Strong customer site behavior data collection, followed by advanced segmentation based on demographics, behavioral patterns and context allows for creation of powerful algorithms that help businesses efficiently personalize the website experience for visitors leading to very significant increases in conversion rates.
Should you need help with developing and executing a data-driven marketing strategy, please contact our industry-certified digital marketing specialists at www.webtage.com