Jenna Tiffany
Jenna Tiffany 23 February 2017

Are You One of the 59% of Marketers That Are Challenged by Data?

How often as a marketer do you feel like you’re drowning in data, unable to see the wood for the trees? Don’t fear you’re not alone. Here's my tips on how to generate insights from your marketing data that can inform your strategy.

The DMA’s 2017 Marketer Email Tracker report recently uncovered yet again that a ‘lack of data’, ‘data silos’ and ‘data degradation’ continues to be one of the biggest challenges for email marketers. Generally, it’s not through a lack of generating data. Every day 2.5 quintillion bytes of data and 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone! That’s a lot of data, so much so it’s often called Big Data. Data is all around us. Every click, every web page, every email, every transaction in store and online is all tracked, each generating data. However, the challenge remains of multiple systems not talking to each other, providing marketers with a disjointed view of their customer’s behaviour and activity during their journey with your company.

Here’s my tips on how to retain focus to the data you can access.

Data Isn’t Just Numbers
Many brands are drowning in data. As a consultant, I’m able to take a step back and review marketing activity from a fresh pair of eyes. Recently I consulted for a B2B financial organisation. As they acknowledged, they were drowning in data. Every part of the conversion journey was tracked, however the analysis that followed didn’t provide any clear insights that could inform their marketing strategy.  

The sales process was typical of many B2B brands which had a mix of both online and offline throughout this process. The offline human interaction was also key to keep the lead warm.

Marketing’s Challenge
The marketing objective was to generate leads. To do this, the marketeers needed to clearly understand the channels that were driving the most leads that ultimately converted and the channels that created brand awareness. This may seem like an easy measurement but in this example, there were over 20 data dashboards, reports and various analytical tracking tools, it was a challenge to discover any insights. This is where I came in, as a consultant you can take a step back, review and assess the current state of play through a fresh pair of eyes.

Two Areas Of Focus
The first starting for any consultant is to understand more about the business, the sales process, average lead time to conversion, channels already being used, marketing campaigns, target market, competitors etc. This is important to be able to picture the customer and the direction of the business. 

The second focus for this example was to determine the objectives for the insights and to be clear on the key questions that the data insight needed to answer. When you start any data insight project I recommend asking these two questions:

  1. What are we trying to find out?
  2. What are the questions that we have that currently we’re unable to answer?

When you’re busy on the day to day, it’s easy to miss these simple starting points which will provide you with focus on analysing the data you need, instead than trying to understand everything.

Data Analysis
In this example, the marketing team were unable to make any clear decisions from their data analysis. Previously, their marketing spend had been dictated by volume of traffic without any analysis into the quality of that traffic in converting leads. To break this down, take a blank piece of paper, and do the following:

  • Ask yourself what key analytics do we need to answer our questions?
    • This is important, it’s easy to measure everything, but difficult to narrow down. With a focused approach, you’ll uncover insights and can deep dive in particular areas of activity to understand your marketing performance.
  • Consider the customer journey and break the analysis down into brand awareness/interest (channels driving traffic) and conversion.
    • The mindset and information the new customer will require at these two stages will be different and so should your marketing approach.

Valuable Data
Before drawing any strategic conclusions, ensure the data you’re analysing is statistically significant. Depending on the volume of data, my recommendation is to compare performance across the last 12 months as a minimum. The best approach is to create a year on year comparison if possible. In doing so, trends will become apparent such as any peak months for your business and any months where performance naturally declines. This will assist in forecasting your future marketing spend. In this example, a review of the months that drove the highest amount of leads against a comparison of the months that didn’t drive any leads was also created to identify any potential marketing activity that drove a higher lead volume.

Insights Tell A Story
From using the above methods, the insights highlighted the channels that drove the highest volume of traffic and those that didn’t. This was compared to the channels that drove the most amount of conversions. In this example, we discovered the channels which drove high volumes of traffic but wasn’t necessarily quality traffic. In some instances, the visitors from these channels stayed on the website for less 1 minute (average time spent was much higher) with a very high bounce rate. Therefore, highlighting that either the channel, advertising content or landing page didn’t meet the expectations of the visitors. Historically the organisation had viewed channels that drove low volumes of traffic as unnecessary to allocate marketing budget, yet the strategic insights uncovered that those channels consistently drove the most amount of conversions.

Don’t feel alone if you’re a marketer drowning in data don’t feel alone. Take a step back, note your objectives and the questions that you need data analysis to answer. The answers will be there and be uncovered once you identifying the metrics you need to measure.

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