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Data-driven marketing for data-driven marketers

Marketing is a multi-faceted business function and, depending on the company, can range from events to communications to advertising, among other areas. However, much of marketing is driven by data and insight. The onset of big data is opening up a wealth of possibilities to deliver more accurate, data-driven marketing.

In theory, more data means more insight. But in practice, more data often means more complication. The challenge for companies nowadays is to use data to their advantage without getting caught up in its web.

A wealth of data

There’s now a huge wealth of customer data available to shape and drive effective marketing. From sales transactions to customer service interactions, online surveys to consumer feedback, social media insight to online activity monitoring and, the ultimate source, the Internet of Things – we now live in a world of data.

There are also companies whose service is to provide business-to-business data about consumers and markets, which can be fed into analytics programmes alongside internal data to create insights that weren’t available even a few years ago.

Part of a marketing team’s role is to sort through this information and transform it from white noise into insight-driven, predictive data.

Identify strengths and weaknesses

The first step in creating an effective data-driven marketing strategy is to identify to what extent your marketing is already data-driven. That includes understanding what data resources you have available and where you need to target your efforts. Additionally, this has to be a concerted approach across your team. Axel Schaefer, senior manager, strategic marketing EMEA at Adobe Systems, explains:

“As an organisation that wants to execute on data-driven marketing, all involved need to be very aware of the available resources, the restraints, requirements and needs, in order to develop actionable steps to a data-driven strategy roadmap.”

Determine your goals

Make sure you have a framework in place to guide your marketing efforts. Decide on your KPIs. For example, is the purpose of your data-driven marketing strategy to focus on revenue or income? Or is it to create an outstanding customer experience? Do you want to expand your reach and generate new customers or concentrate on your current ones?

Decide how to collect your data

In line with your information goals, decide which data collection channels are best. Whether that’s through online surveys, monitoring page visits and online activity, carrying out in-store surveys or creating memberships that provide better insight, make sure you evaluate how this will contribute to your marketing insight.

Hone your data

With so much information out there, the hardest part of a data-driven marketing approach is to decide what data you need and then hone it into something useful. Identify your desired outcomes before you begin your analysis. Remember, these can always evolve as your research continues, but don’t lose focus by getting drawn into data that doesn’t match your KPIs.

Gain customer insight

Research by IBM revealed that 75% of consumers now “expect organisations to understand their individual needs ”. Understanding what your customers want is your key to effectively target your market. If you can figure out where the gaps in your knowledge are – which insights you need – then you can focus your data efforts on creating a 360 degree view of your customers and what they want. Once you understand what motivates your customer and what marketing channels and approaches they respond to, you can target your marketing efforts accordingly.

Buyer personas and targeted content

Having amassed your data, the true value is in turning this into actionable insight. The best way to understand your customers and advance your targeted marketing is to create buyer personas, preferably through a single customer view. Once you’ve segmented your customers into specific buyer personas you can then build targeted content and use this data to market directly to your customers’ interests, creating greater return on marketing investment.

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