5 Ways You Can Put All Your Numbers And Research To Good Use

Using data to improve your marketing strategy is a great idea in theory, but when you don't know what to do with that data, it's pretty pointless. Here's a crash course on how marketers can leverage their stats for better campaigns.

Plenty of marketers bandy the term "data-driven marketing" about these days, but what the heck does that actually mean?

Collecting and analyzing numbers and research for a more targeted marketing campaign is a great idea. But the reality is, with data at our instant disposable these days, most marketers have more than they are able to effectively use—it’s not about how much data you have, but what you are able to do with your data that can spell success for marketers.

Marketing has always been about storytelling, but now we are telling stories through numbers. From strategy to implementation to evaluation and back again, here are five ways to use data for more efficient and effective storytelling:

1. Ask the Right Questions

Defining your goals at the beginning of a marketing program is a given, but when it comes to what you want to accomplish through the use of data, asking the right questions is key, otherwise you’ll drown in all of that data.

Do you want to drive revenue? Reduce cost? Acquire new customers? Marketers have to take an in-depth look into their business models and determine what problems they’re looking to solve before formulating the specific questions they want to answer through data analysis.

2. Take Inventory

Take stock of what you have and try to supplement it.

You can have a repository of millions of data points from customer relationship management (CRM), but if those data points have been gathered from only a few sources, then you’re not getting the full picture. You’re blind to what your consumer does when they are not engaged with you.

For maximum benefit, be sure that you are harvesting data from across the digital sphere, from your digital properties as well as from third party digital data sources. Getting this well-rounded view of your consumer is crucial to telling a complete story with data.

3. Create Measurable Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Benchmarking and measurement are key aspects of any marketing program, and they are just as important to data science. You are asking the right questions of your data, but now, you need to be sure you have a way of knowing if they’ve been answered.

4. Make Data Visualization a Priority

A common issue for marketers is the ability to truly understand the implications of data, and finding tools to visualize that data can be extremely valuable when it comes to educating your organization.

Before the data crunching happens, draw one data visualization—for example, a graph or chart—per measurable KPI. You’ll have a better feel for how to synthesize easily digestible recommendations without drowning in data.

5. Take An Organization-Wide Approach

An organization-wide appreciation and use of data is also extremely important to maximizing its benefits. Bridging the gap between marketers and data scientists is imperative to deriving meaningful insights from data that map back to business goals and make a real impact on your organization.

Eventually, organizational silos will break down and the focus will be on combining data from various sets for larger scale insight. That insight can then inform strategists, media planners, creative departments, CRM, and even sales and product development. When everyone is working from the same data set, output from all departments can be more cohesive, more efficient, and more effective.

A data-driven marketer is one who ensures that all of their departments are reliant on an educated use of data.

Real data-driven marketing is about connecting the dots with data across the consumer journey and throughout digital touch points. It requires applying what you learn—whether through first or third party sources—across marketing disciplines and breaking down silos within an organization for true collaboration and improved outcomes overall.

James McNamara is the Senior Director of Platform Strategy and Operations at eXelate.

[Image: Flickr user Trans-Media-Akademie Hellerau]

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