Contributor Scott Rayden advises on how marketing organizations can leverage data and integrate it across the company.
Q1 is a time of fine-tuning for the year to come. In performance marketing, data has been the largest contributor to our strategy/approach for as long as I can remember.
That’s absolutely the case in 2015, but it’s made more complex than ever by just how much data, and how many types of data, exist today.
This post is meant to help you break it all down and help decide how data can shape your company’s immediate future. We’ll look at data through a few lenses: types, sources, culture, analysis, results, and the place for intuition amid all the numbers.
What Data Types Matter & How Are They Gathered?
Years ago, it was purely campaign data that drove decisions and strategy. Today’s marketers have access to a much wider variety of data. At the company where I work, 3Q Digital, we tend to focus a great deal on first-party data (our own data) as well as sales and operational data from our clients.
The focus on data has really shifted to the users — who they are, what devices they’re using, where they are in the purchase funnel, etc.
Because of this focus on getting to know the user, second-party, and third-party data have also really risen in prominence. Second-party data and third-party data, gathered through partner relationships and data warehouses, are also instrumental in filling out the picture of your users.
Your budget and your database capacity will inform how you gather your data, of course; third-party data, for instance, generally comes at a cost.
About two years ago, we understood that to really be able to work with data in interesting and meaningful ways, we needed to build our own technology that would allow us to integrate different types and sources of data.
We made building our own data warehousing a focus; we’re able to bring in different types of Google data along with our clients’ in-house operational data, sales data, marketing data, and other data sets that are meaningful for us to leverage.
(You can get additional information about data types, including how they’re gathered and why they’re beneficial, in our whitepaper here — free with registration.)
Who Analyzes The Data?
At our company, we have two different groups analyzing data: our client services reps and a small team of data analysts who have more training and focus on data visualization.
Creation of a visualization allows the rest of the team members to understand and recognize trends and opportunities faster. You may or may not choose to put resources into a separate (but integrated) analytics team; if you don’t, make sure you prioritize that skillset across your greater marketing team.
What Kinds Of Results Can You Get From Data-Driven Marketing?
We’re able to answer all kinds of different questions for our clients. No longer are we solving pure digital or campaign-focused questions to ramp up ROI numbers; we are now able to use data to help answer important operational questions (optimal call center hours, landing page efficiency, general brand strategy, target audience), as well.
The data we analyze is valuable across an organization and no longer just lives with marketing.
What Are Some Of The Challenges That Need To Be Overcome?
Keeping up is difficult. New data sets are becoming available every week, it seems. New technologies pop up all the time that allow for different types of data sets to be combined.
Clients are also using technologies in different ways, and we need to be able to pull this data into our own systems for analysis. That requires a lot of work and a lot of resources, so plan accordingly.
Does “Gut-Level” Decision-Making Still Make Sense?
Absolutely; although, even gut-level decisions should be based on or at least founded upon data.
Art and intuition, going beyond and beneath the data, are critical to marketing and the work marketers do.
The best agencies and the most successful companies are the ones that can effectively combine the art with the data — and those who can’t are rapidly becoming an endangered species.