By Katrina Olson
Analytics are everywhere—from Google analytics to social media likes and followers. But what metrics should marketers look at and how often? According to a 2017 TrackMaven study, most (47.42%) marketers look at data after a marketing effort to gauge performance. These are considered “data-informed” marketers.
Only 27.84% consider themselves truly data-driven, as they regularly use insights from data to adapt their strategy, and continually monitor, test and benchmark results. A smaller percentage (17.3%) are data aware, focusing on social media metrics like followers, engagement and website traffic to evaluate and improve their efforts. And 6.2% say they are driven by their gut, using digital marketing without quantifiable goals.
How does data drive marketing?
With the right tools and systems, marketing can collect data on how users engage with the company, from individual interactions to market-wide metrics. This data is analyzed to determine what makes a successful marketing effort. Using this information, marketers can focus resources where they'll have the most impact. Over time, marketing becomes more efficient, better utilizing resources and reducing wasteful spending, thus increasing ROI.
Say you want to test two promotional offers. You can use A/B testing to compare two e-mail offers to see which performs better. Send offer A to one group of customers, and offer B to a similar group of customers, then track the results.
This is just one of many ways data can help fine-tune your marketing plan. The key is planning, testing, analyzing, iterating and redeploying the effort based on the insights you've gained. Find out what works then compare the results to your original KPIs. Then, repeat, repeat, repeat.
How to become a data-driven marketing department.
Before you can become a data-driven organization and marketing department, you'll need to get a few things in place including:
- A strategic marketing plan that identifies key performance indicators (KPIs).
- A means for collecting and monitoring data that support the company's KPIs.
- Tools that collect and manage data, with simplified reporting making it easy to identify and share insights and trends.
- Staff with the expertise to extract meaningful insights from data and identify trends, or access to a budget for hiring consultants.
- A marketing budget that supports the time, resources, tools and training the staff needs to become data-driven.
- A compensation plan that rewards marketers for performance and achieving metric-based goals.
Once the processes and systems are in place, marketers need to prove their impact on the bottom line by carefully identifying and tracking metrics that tie directly to the overall business objectives. Then, they need to report successes to the C-suite to demonstrate how marketing is increasing engagement, generating leads, gaining customers and contributing to revenue. This will also help marketing make the case for larger future budgets.
Data is the future of marketing. Some distributors and manufacturers are already ahead of the curve, learning how to use their CRM systems to gather insights and refine their marketing efforts. Will you get on board or be left behind?
Olson is a marketing and public relations consultant, and principal of Katrina Olson Strategic Communications. She has written for tED magazine's print edition since 2005, judged tED magazine's Best of the Best Competition since 2006, and emceed the Best of the Best Awards ceremony for a total of seven years. She can be reached at Katrina@katrinaolson.com or via her website at katrinaolson.com.
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