Our smartphones, tablets and social media accounts are beaming out information about us: where we’ve been, what we’ve been doing, our likes, preferences. Right now, data is seemingly everywhere. So, what does this mean for marketing professionals? Everything. Data can transform marketing initiatives from guesses to strategically focused campaigns. But that transformation can happen if businesses leverage data to its advantage — to gain valuable customer insights and then put those insights to improve customer experience, drive higher conversion rate and increase retention.
Data is crucial for real-time insights for real-time decision making, which results in competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Marketers can gather all of the available marketing data about their content and combine that in a database with all of the deployment data — when and where the content went live, how large the audience was at the time of launch, and then cross-reference that combined data set with performance data — social media data, conversion data, customer experience data — to find patterns in what works to drive specific experiences.
Some of the big brands in the world are being disrupted by smaller organisations who have built systems themselves or bought licences for software to gather and analyse data automatically.
The truth is, in today’s supersaturated market, if businesses don’t have solid data analytics tools, they aren’t even getting to the table. So, in the future, what will separate great companies from the good will be their ability to nuance their big data to give them powerful insights.
A study by Forrester found that 64 per cent of marketers believe that they need better data for prospecting, and 67 per cent agreed that customer acquisition is more challenging than retention.
If done right, a data-driven strategy can reap rewards in a big way. A McKinsey report states that “executive teams that make extensive use of customer data analytics across all business decisions see a 126 per cent profit improvement over companies that don’t.”
There’s a lot of opportunity and room for improvement. While the intention to use AI and analytics is there, according to Forrester, “only 15 per cent of senior leaders actually use customer data consistently to inform business decisions.”
The democratisation of data is gaining traction in the analytics world, which is a key building block for scale. Without needing to know coding, marketers can link data from multiple sources and apply predictive analytics. Visualisation tools, meanwhile, are also putting marketers in control of the analytics tools by making it easy to slice and dice data, and support decision making. Companies, including American Express, Procter & Gamble and Walmart, are investing in these types of tools to democratise the use of analytics.
Turning data into action
Every business is different, and has its own marketing funnel contributing to the success of its conversions. CRMs like HubSpot allow businesses to visualise funnels — where they need to optimise, double down, and cut back its efforts.
It’s important for a business to understand where its customers are coming from a funnel perspective — starting at the initial touchpoints, then looking at how that customer engaged with the business, as in, did they go to the website? Called sales? Did a Facebook ad lead directly to conversion?
Case in point: Nazia wants to buy a TV and starts her shopping journey with a Google search. She finds an electronics review site, clicks on a banner ad, reads about the product details, and decides to go into the store to see the model. She posts a picture of the TV on Facebook for her friends’ feedback. She also uses her smartphone to do a quick price comparison, and scans the QR code to get additional product information.
Now, the company knows that a potential customer has interacted with it across a lot of touch points but it has no idea that all these interactions are with Nazia. It can track each of these interactions across touchpoints, but doesn’t know how to tie them to an individual customer. Since each touchpoint yields a particular piece of data, this becomes a complex data management challenge.
Usually, the funnel captures those big ideas and distills them down, so a business can look at the big picture of its customer journey. With CRO tools, marketers can learn the best messaging and design combination by analysing A/B test results.
Businesses can also engage prospective customers with different marketing messages to track response rates in their acquisition marketing. According to experts, changing the headline or placement of the CTA button to see which version produces the best results can work, resulting in new customers at a reduced cost. Multiple approaches can help to gain customers.
There’s a big pay-off for marketers who can follow individual customers across media and channels. Increasingly, such a capability is not just nice to have; it is essential for any business who hopes to stay in the game.
Since data is valuable across channels, businesses can learn from email marketing to understand the value propositions that drive the highest click-through-rate, and use that data, which is translated, to optimise Facebook and Google advertising.
Also, understanding keyword conversion from search engine marketing (SEM) can help inform SEO strategy, because conversion on paid keywords will likely translate to organic keyword strategy as well. Data, or rather intent data, captured across eCommerce, pricing comparison and product review sites is the best source for new customer acquisition.
The best way to execute this is by using a data analytics software that puts all of marketing campaigns into a dashboard, thus making cross channel marketing decisions easier.
Studying the data a business generates can tell which of its online marketing campaigns works best. Do the ads appeal to its target market or another market altogether? The data may also point to completely new areas of customer interest.
Connecting data to action, businesses can understand consumer behaviour as well as anticipate the future, and so build valuable relationships. Put simply, businesses can know their audience. Data can also help to understand a business’ successes, and failures, which is essential for growth. For businesses looking to improve acquisitions, data is the only path forward. Here are some tools that can help.
Google Analytics: It tells the basics of what a business needs to know like where its traffic is coming from and which ads are performing most effectively, and understand which messages appeal to its consumers.
Heap Analytics, Mixpanel or Amplitude: These tools allow a business to execute funnel analyses and data slices, which will give a complete picture of its customers’ journeys.
CRM or email platform: A CRM aggregates all of the data that businesses need to understand about its customers. A Customer Data Platform can help parse CRM data and create customer profiles. The email platform’s native data also holds key information about customers li, like interactingth the business online.
Of late, location analytics is used to increase user acquisition, conversion by on-demand companies such as food delivery companies and eCommerce companies.
Acquiring users in locations where there is already demand will help these companies to reduce customer acquisition cost. Hence, in choosing the next location where they want to expand, a good question to ask is: what are the locations that already have a latent demand in terms of app installs, searches, orders placed?
Locale, a location analytics platform, converts raw lat-long data across all databases and formats into meaningful insights so that decision-makers can make very precise, data-driven decisions about their ground operations. Meanwhile, demand mapping lets an on-demand business overlay its search data and install data that it can use to analyse the spatial and time-wise trends for different areas. Marketers can use these insights to identify which areas are untapped and for the business for different categories.
Customer behaviour permeates throughout the entire customer acquisition process. So it is recommended to use behaviour data to create predictive models that can identify the prospects most likely to purchase, and businesses can focus on their effort on acquiring these customers that are most valuable to them.
Finding where to find the right customers and present the right offer to them will help them to convert. In addition it enables businesses to ask, what is the right journey or path it needs to lead customers down to best convert them, and which customers will bring the most value.
The pressure on business leaders to demonstrate return on investment from a diverse portfolio of marketing programs is only increasing. The data to make smarter decisions are available, as are the analytical tools. Taking an integrated analytics approach is the key to uncovering meaningful insights in driving higher customer acquisition and conversion rates.
Want to know more about topics like this from industry thought leaders? The Vibe Martech Fest (VMF), an in-person edition under the theme “Next is Now”, will deliberate on key issues like consumer behaviour, data and personalisation. The event is scheduled on 7th and 8th of September 2021 in Dubai, UAE.