By Chuck Leddy
Marketing technology helps drive peak performance, enabling marketers to test assumptions, and then iterate their way to success through leveraging data. Data analytics gives marketers a deeper understanding and continuous engagement with their customers, providing an always-on nurturing engine that drives conversion. We’ll describe how that happens in this post.
What is data analytics, and why should marketers care?
Data analytics transforms your raw data into meaningful, actionable insights that (1) inform better decision-making and (2) support a process of continuous improvement in all you do. Easy to say, less easy to do. In terms of using analytics to drive peak performance, marketers need to begin by determining precisely what data is relevant in impacting the key strategic outcomes they seek (i.e., a clear strategy). Then you need the right tools and infrastructure in place to track and report on your data when it’s converted into business intelligence/actionable insights (i.e., analytics capability). Finally, marketers need a working structure to feed those actionable insights back into the way they work, at both the short-term decisional level (a shorter horizon) and the long-term process improvement level (longer-term horizon).
The days of marketers “going with hunches” are largely gone. You can test and tweak your hypotheses now using data. Increasingly, the best marketing is powered by data analytics. You need to know how to track what’s relevant and drive desired outcomes with data-enabled insights – that’s the promise of analytics.
Analytics also enables marketers to be savvy influencers in the C-suite, effectively building data-driven business cases to maximize their marketing budgets. Let’s dig deeper into some of these benefits that data analytics offer.
Analytics and marketing are complementary
Marketing and analytics are two complementary functions forming a rock-solid relationship. Marketers must understand the behaviors and preferences of their target audience. Well, customer analytics offers just that capability. However, analytics will never eliminate the need for marketers to interact with their customers in real spaces, as opposed to virtual ones. As Sojourn Solutions managing partner Dan Vawter explains, “data analysis and optimization is absolutely key, but speaking with your customers is also required for developing hypotheses and testing them.” Going with a “hunch” is fine, but now marketers can quickly test and learn (from failure and from success) and iterate their way to improvement with data.
Data analytics is the “old-fashioned” marketing survey happening in real-time, and it can confirm or invalidate hypotheses marketers make based on interacting with customers in the real-world. When analytics show that your hypothesis “fails,” you fail small and fast (and learn lessons for your next marketing move).
Behavioral insights to drive CX
Data analytics allow marketers to understand what customers are doing online, on social media, and via other channels, in almost real-time. Using this multi-channel behavioral data, for instance, marketers can create accurate customer profiles and segments that allow for deeper understanding and engagement. With such profiles and segments, marketers are able to be more predictive about customer behaviors and preferences. They can send relevant messages (content, offers, etc.) to the right customer through the right channel at the right time. The impacts of this personalization capability on marketing ROI are pretty clear: relevancy is what customers want most.
Optimizing campaigns through data analytics
Data analytics can help marketers understand and optimize the performance of a single campaign and/or a series of campaigns, providing strategic insights into what tactics worked (or didn’t) and what channels were most effective (or weren’t). Data analytics empower marketers to get a “continuous learning” feedback loop going. You can test a hypothesis, maybe one that assumes “X is the best price for our offering” or “this message will convert prospects into buyers,” and then iterate and optimize based on data analytics. You inform and improve in the short and long term – in other words, you learn.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are increasing making analytics accessible and readily available to anyone, even marketers without a Ph. D. in data science or statistics (i.e., almost all of us).
What works in marketing today? Develop a hypothesis, test it, track relevant data, act quickly, keep tweaking, and keep building based on lessons learned. That “optimization approach” is fully enabled by data analytics. You can collect customer data, evaluate what marketing actions are engaging your customers, and then identify what’s working and what isn’t via analytic tools. With data analytics, you create a continuous learning loop that moves you toward optimizing customer engagement through what you do.
Understanding your customers’ preferences through data analytics will not only help you market products and solutions, but will help optimize your marketing strategies.
Evaluating ROI and budgets
As Katrina Niemisto, Marketo’s senior content strategy specialist, explains, marketers “are continually striving to prove our worth and to show how our marketing activities matter to bottom- and top-line metrics . . . Now more than ever, marketing has to prove its impact on the success of the business.” Data analytics enables you to connect marketing investments to outcomes. With this capability in hand, you can more effectively advocate for more spend on the “right” activities and tools down the road. If you want your C-suite to “show me the money!” for marketing, then you need to show them the ROI. With data analytics, you can.
As Dan Vawter says, “probably the biggest challenge our customers face is lots of different systems with information that can help build a better customer experience, but these systems aren’t working together. Getting those systems integrated is not a simple task, but can have massive impact.” Are you leveraging your systems and data in an optimal way right now to help inform your marketing campaigns, strategies, and budgets? Are you looking to drive more “massive impact” with your marketing operations?
Bottom-line, have you considered what you need to take your performance to the next level? Contact us today.