Marketing has always been part science and part art, with the vast majority of changes throughout the history of the industry affecting this ratio. Today, due to the spectacular computing powers and cloud computing, the ratio is moving to the science side, as data becomes lauded every so increasingly.
There are good reasons for this.
A data-driven marketing strategy, when formulated and deployed properly, will be more accurate, targeted and more responsive to the changes in the marketplace. All of this has resulted in an increasing number of marketers investing more in data-driven marketing.
Once again, for this to happen, you will need to approach your data-driven marketing strategy with utmost care. Forget about one thing, and it all collapses.
You Will Need People
It always starts with the people.
In order to be able to run any kind of a data-driven marketing campaign, you will need a team that will be able to handle it or willing to learn how to handle it. This is going to be an undertaking that will go well outside the comfort zone of most “traditional” marketers and you will most likely need to include a data scientist on your team.
Unfortunately, since data scientists are not exactly a dime a dozen, you might actually have to look outside and hire one. Of course, there is always a chance that you have someone with history in data mining and/or analysis in your organization. Companies that use business analytics practices usually already have data scientists on board and they might actually be very glad to learn a bit about marketing too.
The important thing is that you also have someone in charge of this team. Yes, flat organizational structure is all cool and disruptive, but this is a heterogeneous team working on something new for the company and it needs to have a clearly-defined manager.
Numbers. Numbers. Numbers.
One of the biggest selling points for data-driven marketing is that it is supposed to be very clear and direct about the goals, the KPIs and the ROI of every decision that is made. In order for this to actually be true, the data-driven marketing strategy needs to clearly define these beforehand.
For one, the goals should be very clear. Is the goal to increase the number of visits to the website by increasing the company’s visibility? Is the goal to reduce the number of abandonments somewhere inside the sales funnel by making deals more attractive? Is the goal to reduce customer churn through better targeting?
Once the ultimate goal is set, it is essential to determine the KPIs that will show these new data-driven efforts are heading in the right direction. The good news is that the data that will be collected once the new strategy is put in action will clearly indicate if the KPIs are showing and if the team is heading in the right direction.
This will also serve as a great tool of encouragement and engagement, for your new data-driven marketing team to see their efforts paying off.
Sourcing the Data
Of course, none of this works if you do not have the right data you will be able to use.
The good news is that there is no shortage of channels through which you can gain useful information. For one, there is the data that you openly collect from your customers and potential customers. These are usually obtained via different types of surveys and through direct communication with the customers.
Then, there is the “indirect” data that you obtain from customers visiting your website. For instance, you find out which parts of the website they spend most time on, whether they checked out your About Us page, what their location is (both when visiting your website, but also when visiting your physical location). The list goes on.
In addition to this, analyzing the behavior of your customers and potential customers on social media can provide amazing insights into market trends and fluctuations. The chance is you will need specialized software to do this, but it is almost invariably worth it.
Then, you will want to gain access to the data the other departments in your company collect and store. For instance, you can approach salespeople to check out their data – the percentages of successful sales, customer churn rate, customer loyalty numbers and so on. The customer support people will have data on what troubles your customers the most and how they get solutions to their problems. Perhaps your company also collects dark data that never gets used.
With all this data, it is essential that your team does not get swamped in unnecessary data that they will find no use for. Make sure you only collect data that truly matters and that will influence what you are trying to do.
If someone wants to do a bit of data research on their own dime, then let them. Encourage them.
Staying on Your Toes
A data-driven marketing strategy is not set in stone. Sometimes a team will feel so overwhelmed by the data, the analysis and the attention to details that they will lose sight of what is important – making better marketing decisions.
That is what data-driven marketing is all about – it is about making better marketing decisions.
If you and your team are not staying on your toes and discovering new ways to utilize and even gather data, you are missing the point. Also, if it becomes clear that something is not working (and it most probably will), you will want to be apprehensive enough to notice it in time. Change it. Tinker with it. Do another test. Make another hypothesis.
Data-driven marketing is nothing to be afraid of. Sure, it may require getting out of your comfort zone and collaborating with people you otherwise probably wouldn’t, but it will make you a better marketer and it will benefit your company.
And it all starts with a strategy.