Simply put, data-driven marketing is using the information we have on customers to better reach our audience through marketing.
Data utilization has grown from a nice-to-have marketing tool to a must-have strategy. The good news for marketers is that, as data has matured, the amount of information available has grown as well. With audience segments, behavioral data, optimization and feedback, marketers can now use data to transform the customer journey and capitalize on consumer behavior.
But it's easy for marketers to wonder just what the best data-driven marketers are doing with all this information. So, we're breaking down the top five things the best data-driven marketers do and how you can do them too.
1. They start with an objective, then let data guide them.
Before you can understand the data you're measuring, you must understand what you're measuring against. That is, with all of this data out there that is yours for the taking, what exactly are you trying to achieve as a marketer?
Before diving head first into a pile of unlimited data and information, the best data-driven marketers start by identifying the objectives of their organizations and then target their marketing around meeting those objectives. They ask themselves, "What is the ultimate goal of our marketing initiatives, and how can data-driven marketing tactics get us there?"
For instance, is your business goal ultimately to gain new customers? To gain repeat business from existing customers? To drive brand awareness? To build an email database for a future product launch?
Once you have a clear picture of what you're trying to achieve, you can then begin to use data to your advantage. Use data to set a base for what you're measuring against, to optimize your consumer journey, to test and deliver the desired results, and ultimately meet your objectives.
2. They're comfortable being uncomfortable.
OK, so you have your base set and you know where you're going. It's time to buckle up and get comfortable being uncomfortable.
Using data means wading through some gray areas as you test hypotheses, tweak your marketing efforts and continue to refine based on new data. Test, measure, tweak, repeat.
Being data-driven means you listen to the incoming data from your customers and have the flexibility to tweak your marketing appropriately. Oftentimes, the best data-driven marketers go out into market with a few variable, testable propositions. They measure the results of their first test, knowing very well their initial work may prove wrong (there's no room for egos here), and tweak their second wave of marketing efforts based on the results.
This work continues until you hone in on exactly the right message at the right time to the right customer.
3. They guide the customer's journey from SEO to retargeting.
According to Google, nearly 90 percent of marketers, across all types of organizations, now say that understanding these user journeys across channels and devices is critical to their success. Good news for you – once you understand your objectives and have gathered the necessary data, you can get to work building your marketing campaign around your customer journey.
Behavioral data will help you understand how to optimize marketing around different points in the customer journey, from brand or product awareness to customer feedback following the purchase. In fact, the best data-driven marketers use data to receive customer feedback and resolve customer-experience issues after the purchase is complete.
Data helps drive the SEO marketing process, helping you show up in search engines whether a customer is first locating your business, looking for information on your product or searching for a related topic. It then allows you to retarget consumers through a multitude of marketing channels, such as email communications, digital banner ads, Google AdWords and Facebook ads.
The point is that data allows you to be with your customer throughout their journey. From initial search to purchase to review, optimizing your marketing early on enables you to acknowledge consumer needs at any point in the process.
4. They use competitor data to their advantage.
Being data-driven means understanding not only your data, but the data of your competitors. According to a study from Forbes Magazine, data-driven marketing leaders are six times more likely to gain competitive advantage and profitability, and a whopping 88 percent of companies have used data to improve their understanding of each consumer.
They're not on a covert mission to hack the competition. Instead, they listen to customers (both theirs and their competitors') to ultimately deliver an experience and journey that matches the needs and wants of their customers.
You can use competitor information to your advantage. What keywords or backlinks are driving the most traffic to your competitors' websites? What is your competitors' customer journey? Are they seeing acquisition at a faster rate? What gap in customer experience do their customers want filled?
For any question about the customer journey, the best data-driven marketers know the answer for both their own customers and those of a competitor. This competitive advantage gives you the ability to truly meet and exceed expectations for the customer journey and experience.
5. They keep it simple and start with the customer.
To drive marketing success, it is extremely important to get back to the basics when utilizing data. This means understanding how data can help you ultimately deliver the best experience possible to consumers, whether you are opening a new restaurant or inventing the next equivalent of the iPhone. Every business or product started by identifying something new and unique for the end customer, whether the customer knew they wanted it or not.
Don't overcomplicate the complex world of data. Keep it simple by starting with your customer, and use your data to reach them with the most effective forms of marketing initiatives possible.
And if you're not seeing your desired results – test, measure, tweak, repeat.