Customer knowledge is key to success in marketing. The most successful companies know what consumers want but are also able to anticipate new needs by delivering offers based on past behavior. To get there, they need to look at the data, and that vision is what’s called Data Driven Marketing (DDM).
The challenge, however, is that few marketers have the expertise to effectively use data. I am convinced that few of us, including myself, have taken extensive courses in statistics. I am also convinced that few of us have access to data visualization tools and know how to use them. Finally, I am convinced that few of us have the skills to analyze different metrics to detect customer patterns, behaviors, trends, etc. … neither can we recognize if a metric is likely to lead us in the wrong direction.
Difficult introduction, is it not? Nowadays, I think data is recognized at the center of tomorrow’s marketing, and large companies with significant resources are already taking full advantage of it. However, it is not a generalized reality, and it must change in the coming years.
My question then is: how to reconcile skills that are not acquired in formal training courses, but are essential to field teams? Here is a real challenge that must be faced.
Now that the table is put, let’s see how to realistically introduce concepts surrounding the DDM in your daily life.
Data Driven Marketing
Let’s start from the basics: what is Data-Driven Marketing? It is a method of acquiring, analyzing and applying data based on the needs, context, behavior and motivations of customers or prospects. These actions bring out insights, which will influence plans, campaigns, content, channels, and much more.
Beyond its technical application, I would also say that DDM is synonymous with customer-oriented marketing. To be a truly customer-based company, you need to have the means to know them. And that way of doing it is with the data. Let us also say that DDM is a global organizational approach, which must be chosen by senior management, systematically applied at all levels of the organization, and be an integral part of the organization’s vision.
Now that you know more about what it is, let’s see how to introduce concepts into each of the 3 actions mentioned: data acquisition, analysis and application.
Data driven marketing and data acquisition
Data acquisition is generally not a problem – if you use at least one technological solution, you are already acquiring and storing data. The challenge is not the data, nor the quantity, but rather the quality.
Underlying quality, a question we often hear is where can I find it? I don’t think that’s necessarily the best way to ask the question. I would rather say where is the data that will really serve me? In this version, there are two things to evaluate before you even start looking for the data, and I’ll start with the second part.
Which will really be useful to me: why get data that will not help you? By making your database more complex with duplicates, errors or being very big… I can’t see much more. Quality is then found in useful data because it enriches what you are about to do. At the marketing level, we’re talking data to enrich your marketing campaigns, choose the right communication channel, adapt content (for example an offer in the hero of your email), evaluate scenario triggers, and more.
Only after you have evaluated this information will you start looking for the data, asking yourself the following questions:
- Is the customer data in a tool I have access to?
- Is the data available in the same tool with which I want to make my action ?
- If not, how can I transfer it to the tool I will use?
- Is the data in a tool that I don’t have access to?
- What tool is it in?
- Who is responsible for this tool?
- How can I get it?
- How can I transfer it?
To facilitate the work of marketing teams in the short, medium and long term, I strongly suggest you centralize knowledge by mapping the computer systems around you, the in and out of these systems, and of course, the data that is transferred. This is a job I personally did at Dialog Insight, and although it is an organic project that continues to evolve, I have better control over my marketing actions because I know what to work with. I have a global view of sales tools and customer service, in addition to marketing, and these are the ones that feed my marketing campaigns. No need to go into big mapping plans either. Go small, with the tools you personally use, or that your team uses, and it will grow as you find more value.
Data management with a Customer Data Platform
There are several ways to centralize customer data to make it easier to use. Data Lakes are a good example, but they are difficult for marketers to operate. Since 2018, we have been talking more about the Customer Data Platform to better meet the needs of these specialists.
If you would like to know more about this new product category, we invite you to read this article. In general, the CDP greatly facilitates the collection and centralization of customer data as it is designed to increase connectivity to external systems. These systems can be of different kinds (company owned, or SAAS owned), and their number should not be a problem. Its objective is then to generate a centralized database, which recognizes a contact on several channels, whether it comes from CRM, ERP, a website, call center, etc.
From this perspective, the CDP is really the next major marketing evolution, and it will be able to address a major issue surrounding customer data.
DDM and data analysis
This portion is the most technical and getting to do advanced analysis without the support of an analyst is, in all honesty, rather difficult.
However, you do not need advanced data visualization tools in your first steps with Data Driven Marketing. In the simple actions you can already do, there is the measurement of web indicators, which can already guide many of your decisions.
In the best known, there are:
- Openings and clicks of messages
- Engagement on your marketing messages
- Answers to a satisfaction survey
- Subscription preferences
- Behaviors on the website
- Transaction History
These KPIs are often collected in the tools you already use, and even if they are rather basic and not very contextualized, they will enlighten you. You could also use paid online tools, or others that are not, like Google Analytics. Obviously, you must set them up, but here nothing is too difficult, or complex compared to other data analysis options. Finally, in analysis mode, do not hesitate to use A / X testing to build different versions of the same action to evaluate what is doing more. In best practices, be sure to change only one variable at a time to identify the real impact, eliminating external variables.
In addition to your basic analysis
In order to enhance the contribution of the previously mentioned KPIs, you could go further with the creation of dashboards. A dashboard is an information management (data) tool that tracks, analyzes, and visually displays KPIs, metrics, and key data points to monitor the health of a business, service, or a specific process. They are customizable to meet the specific needs of a service/business. Contrary to a report, a dashboard is updated automatically when it is viewed, and it is enriched by accumulating information over time.
The reason a dashboard is so relevant is that it does 4 things:
- Simplifies what is complex
- Tell a story
- Express what the data means
- Reveals the required details (no more and no less)
In fact, a figure without context means nothing. The dashboard allows you to add a context, explaining the numbers that are displayed. How?
- Looking at the same period to compare them (e.g. to previous period, previous month or last year)
- Exposing the source of the data, and placing them in the right place of the dashboard
- Expressing the updated data time frame, which is essential.
Data Driven Marketing and data application
It is not enough to just collect and analyze the data, it must also be used. The possibilities that comes with using data is as endless as your imagination (in a perspective where data is fluid and transparent).
However, from a first step perspective, it is obvious that your decisions will have to be based on what you retain from the previous section. Whether you have dashboards or not, some elements of your marketing actions will have to be modified by the insights of your KPIs. In the notions that are easily modified, and that can be measured according to basic metrics, there are:
- The sending moments
- Design and visuals
Sending times may vary between those that are done manually (are you better in the morning or afternoon), or those that are triggered in your automated scenarios (depending on different triggers possible). Content is very variable, since it can be the subject of an email, the address of the sender, the first contents presented on a web page, etc. Finally, design and visuals can be about colors, the layout of the contents, the calls to action that stand out, and so on. If you have never tested these elements, then it could be a great starting point. If you have already done multiple tests at this level, I would say it’s time for you to move on to the next step.
Orchestration of omnichannel campaigns
Silo data application (on a single channel) is one thing, and that’s the beginning, but where you need to lead your marketing is the use of omnichannel data on all your communication channels. To go back to the notions of the Customer Data Platform presented above, the true value of the data lies in using engagement data, preferences and much more. Not just on one channel at a time, but on all your channels simultaneously.
With a CDP, it is possible, since everything can be done on the platform, or by taking advantage of the multiple tool connections. This way, you can enjoy all the recorded historical data, on all the channels, for each of the contacts. This can lead to real time marketing, distributed marketing, and other even more personalized approaches to customers.
Honestly, analytics and metrics are within your reach. There are various tools, free or paid, that you can use to study the behavior of your contacts. Wherever your stages with DDM is at, start by planning the first actions you will take, one channel at a time. Then you can move on to the next steps, but your foundation will be strong. Good luck!