Article

How To Make Your Data Actionable

The explosion of data available presents a huge opportunity, but has left many scratching their head.

The explosion of data available to companies about their business, marketing and customers presents a huge opportunity, but has left many scratching their head.



Digging into your customer, social, digital and revenue data is overwhelming. Even for the experienced. Some brands were early to the data party, but nobody has missed it. However, waiting longer to begin isn’t going to make it simpler. Every new facet to your business and marketing plan is only going to yield more data, and more ways to compare them, creating an exponential problem.

Software Isn’t The Solution


Marketers seeking a solution to this problem are usually approached with a sales pitch. New tools, software and database management systems aim to organize the data but this still leaves the analysis that makes data actionable. Even the best tools can only automate so much. Machine learning addresses a lot of issues around sorting and storing data. People familiar with the business environment need to be looking into the information much deeper.


To truly be in control, marketers must have the ability to find the story the data is telling. Here’s how to get there:

 
1. Ask Your Own Questions


‘Follow the data’ has become a common trope in marketing circles. The spirit of that phrase is to be embraced, but the approach will likely lead to more questions than answers. For example, digging into Facebook analytics usually leads to solutions involving paying Facebook. Despite all the data they collect about users, what is presented for page owners is never a complete picture and leaves some curious gaps.

 

Instead of starting with a platform, start with your own theories about your audience, business or competitors that you want to prove, correlate or better understand. Then think about the target dataset that will help give detail to those theories. This may mean pulling data from multiple sources, or might be as simple as looking at your website analytics.

2. Seek Answers, Not Charts


Ultimately, the goal of gathering all this data isn’t to neatly store it. It is absolutely critical that you are examining this information to find actionable ideas to improve your business. This means keeping your mind open for specific recommendations that will reveal themselves based on data points and trends.

 

For example, looking at social conversations around the loyalty program of a client led to an understanding that a specific audience was confused and frustrated by it. We recommended that the brand create messaging to clarify and demystify the program, just for that group.

3. Track Progress


One of the biggest misunderstandings about data is that it is not static. Every day, every minute, every second the data grows and changes. Take it for the opportunity that it is. Set benchmarks for your key data points and follow along to see how it is shifting in response to your work. This will not only prove whether your initiatives are working, but will uncover new influences and opportunities to help improve.

 

Working within such a structure is important for two major reasons. First, tracking progress allows you to optimize your programs and campaigns based on actual response, proven out in the data. Second, this approach allows you to focus on the information that is important to your business.

 

Starting with questions leads you to collect just the information that can be acted on, and not trying to capture and analyze every possible data point.

 

Original Article

 

Find out more on the future of Technology at our DLUK - Trends Briefing on the 24th September 2015

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