Data is “the new gold of our economy,” according to the Direct Marketing Association. Data-driven marketing allows you to continuously identify new opportunities, offer more value, and extract ever-greater returns.
Indeed, a recent study by Adobe revealed that the most data-driven marketers had a conversion rate nearly 10 times higher than the least data-driven marketers. The top 20% had a conversion rate of 9% or more, compared with 0.9% at the bottom 14%.
Being data driven creates new business value. Take for example STIHL, the world’s largest manufacturer of chain saws, and one of our clients. The company has adopted a data-driven approach to analyze every facet of its marketing, and it’s creating new business opportunities. For example, STIHL discovered that moving its target acquisition age 10 years younger revealed a new revenue opportunity worth $200 million!
That type of discovery is definitely worth its weight in gold.
Henceforth there will be two types of companies: those that embrace data-driven marketing to tap into a new era of prosperity, driven by the continuous flow of opportunities from big data. The others will be the data laggards, which are likely to fall behind and possibly even go out of business.
What’s big data? It’s the avalanche of information about your customers, as they interact with your business, their peers, and their devices. The reason for this unprecedented growth in the volume of data includes the growing number of channels enabling customers to interact, and the increasing ability of businesses to capture and work with that information.
Businesses increasingly realize that data is exactly what they need to take marketing to the next level, create more financial transparency, and improve the ROI on marketing. Indeed, the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO by 2017, according to Gartner.
Data-driven marketing has moved marketing out of the realm of “I’ve got a gut feeling” to one of increasingly precise science. And as marketers have greater access to more scientific processes, they can make better decisions with a greater likelihood of success.
To be a data-driven marketer, you must have the systems and processes in place to capture the data, analyze it, and act effectively upon it. This is what allows your business to engage with customers in a way that is relevant, personal, and at the right time.
Here are 11 essential steps for being an effective data-driven marketer:
1. Measure ROI
The first step in data-driven marketing is to measure and monitor your return on investment (ROI) in marketing.
First, this is why you’re in business. Businesses exist to make money, and it’s essential to know how much profit you make on the money you invest in marketing. Big data makes this increasingly possible.
Second, CEOs and other executives are aware that big data and new technologies make it increasingly possible to measure the financial return on marketing. And thus marketers are expected to do so.
“Technology now provides the tools that permit marketers to genuinely calculate return on their marketing investment,” – Pat Holgate, principal consultant for Teradata applications at Bytes Universal Systems.
To accurately measure ROI, it’s essential to move away from campaign statistics, and instead focus on the big picture: enterprise marketing ROI (EMROI). That’s because today there are more than 60 marketing channels, up from only five a few decades ago. As campaigns often are executed across many channels, it can be difficult to break them out. So it’s most accurate to measure marketing’s total financial return the enterprise.
2. Manage Data
The amount of data in the world is doubling every other year, and will reach 40 trillion gigabytes by 2020, according to statistics from Gartner and IDC. By 2020, the amount of data in the world will have increased 50 times from 2011.
As long demonstrated by Moore’s Law, this is only accelerating in speed and volume every year. This wave can be a threat – or an opportunity. To make it an opportunity it’s essential that you manage your data. Managed and leveraged properly, data is an essential and extremely-valuable strategic asset.
There is far too much data to manage using traditional processes, in some cases even the processes you used a year or two ago. It’s essential to continuously update your marketing technology, your marketing operations, and how you interact with customers.
There are a number of ways you need to ensure that your data is being managed, including your architecture and infrastructure, processes, and even corporate culture.
3. Simplify Data
Because of this growing data avalanche, it’s essential you simplify. This applies to collection, processes, channels, analytics, and more. It may seem daunting to simplify something that’s increasingly complex. But tomorrow, next month, and next year it will be even more difficult. Now is the time to work with IT and other business departments to identify ways to eliminate complexity.
Simplification is essential for many reasons. For example, it’s the key to managing digital disruption, the explosion in social media and smartphone networking. Digital disruption can make finding relevant data more difficult than finding a needle in a haystack; it’s as difficult as finding a needle in a stack of needles.
The easiest way to simplify your data-driven marketing is with technology. Today more than 850 companies offer marketing automation software, up from only 100 a few years ago. These different technology solutions also increasingly have specific purposes, such as systems for measuring and monitoring your marketing ROI.
4. Master Metrics
To be a data-driven marketer, you must adopt a healthy obsession with metrics. You must constantly measure and review the numbers, and then glean what can we learn from the data? Instill a culture where your team always asks new questions and seeks out new metrics.
It’s said that which is measured, grows. So if you measure the number of your customers impressions, leads, conversions, and most importantly your ROI, they are more likely to grow.
It’s been increasingly trendy for years to be a data geek. Now is the time to find and embrace your inner nerd.
5. Do Discovery
Understand what works – and what doesn’t. Data-driven marketing creates unprecedented business value in this: it moves marketing away from an art, towards a blend of art and science. And you accomplish this by constantly measuring what worked – and what didn’t.
Now everything can be measured, to reveal whether it succeeded, whether it generated a profit or not. You can drill down to an infinite number of quadrants: demographic, product, region, campaign, time, and more, mixing and matching the segments, and discovering in each what worked and what didn’t.
This is no longer your grandfather’s marketing, where you put up a flashy billboard or a creative television ad and hope for the best. This is more than just an opportunity, it’s a challenge.
6. Know Customers
Data-driven marketing allows you to create a personal relationship with each and every one of your customers, even if you have millions of them. Verizon has boasted of having a one-on-one relationship with each of its 100 million customers.
This approach allows you to use data to gain a deep understanding of each customer’s behavior and needs. The data-driven marketer will know exactly what channels, messaging, timing, and more work – and which ones do not.
7. Personalize Experiences
To give each customer a truly personal experience, you need to employ data-driven marketing to have total clarity and control over the delivery of messages to each customer, by which channel, which device or platform, and at what time.
The data-driven marketer can know precisely which parts of the marketing mix are driving each interaction, at each stage of the buyer’s journey. Based on past performance, you can predict future behavior. You can discover what products or services might interest each customer, when to make the offer, how to make the offer, by what channel, and more.
8. Right Message, Right Time
It’s said that data is a record of the past, something that happened. However, increasingly data is something that happened as recently as milliseconds ago. Increasingly it’s essential that data is captured, analyzed, and acted upon, almost in real time.
At a recent Adobe Summit, Adobe Senior Vice President Brad Rencher explored how marketing was becoming so fast and complex because of new digital functionality and growing organizational capabilities. Referring to “last millisecond”, Rencher revealed the mission of today’s marketers – to listen, predict, assemble and deliver in real time, every time.
Because of the nearly infinite number of choices and options for a buyer interaction with your brand, it’s essential to continuously fine-tune the process. Even the slightest variation in the optimal direction or away from it can lead to a loyal customer or a detractor.
Being timely means more than just at the right moment. It means having the right message, in the right place, at the right time, with the right offer.
9. Network Socially
Data-driven marketers need to look at individuals in the context of a whole. All people are parts of larger groups. Rather than focusing on social media, you need to focus on social networks. While this semantic distinction might seem small, every individual can influence dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of others.
Studies show that consumers spend 67% more money when receiving recommendations from their peers. The data-driven marketer must think of each individual in the context of the whole. They see not only individuals, but parts of the whole.
While marketers focus on information channels, consumers seek information that’s trustworthy, and feel most confident about information from people they know. Also consumers focus on actions that give them the information they need, faster, better, easier. A Facebook post seeking a recommendation is much easier than finding, downloading and reading a potentially-biased buyers guide.
10. Automate & Scale
For data-driven marketing to succeed, it must scale. While every individual may have a unique history of interactions, it’s neither efficient nor effective to try to create to create an individual outcome for each and every possibility.
That’s because it’s simply impossible to conceive of every single way in which a customer interaction might unfold. There are too many variables as each individual, customer, or lead interacts with your brand. There are too many decisions, options, and possibilities to leverage effectively.
The solution is automation. Automation means creating preconceived experiences based on data and predetermined criteria. Through testing and optimization, you create a series of possible experiences for each possible step in the buyer’s journey.
It’s precisely because of the complexity of consumer decision-making, that it’s essential to turn this knowledge and data into efficient, effective automated processes.
11. Measure & Repeat
To end of the chain, you must go back were you began: ROI. This is why businesses invest in marketing: to generate increasingly attractive returns on that investment.
Data-driven marketers will measure the ROI of their total enterprise efforts. They will break down which effort succeeded, and which did not. They will then look ahead, and create hypotheses for future improvement and growth. And then they repeat the cycle, for ever increasing performance and results.
The future of business belongs to companies that base marketing decisions on data, rather than gut instincts or creative whims.
To become data-driven, you must start by measuring your ROI. You need to manage your data, simplify it, become relentlessly obsessed with measuring and analyzing the results, and discover what works and what doesn’t work.
Looking deep into your data to truly know your customers and their social networks, so that you consistently send them the most effective message at the most effective time in the most effective manner.
And then begin the cycle again: measure, improve, and repeat. Marketers are in business to make money: relentlessly ensure that your marketing continuously contributes more to the enterprise bottom line.