Data is useless without insight. There, we said it. As blunt as that. But we know it, and deep down you know it too. It’s one of the most significant pain points we face as marketers. Collecting so much data that we can’t actually tell if it’s even useful. Or indeed, if we’re using it in the most effective way to achieve and support overall business objectives and achieve (or in some cases prove) that all-important ROI to the management team.
Today, marketing teams need to look at the customer journey beyond the analytics. Looking at how they can turn customer data into actionable, business-minded decision-making objectives. That’s what we want to focus on in this blog— an insight into how to manage data better, providing support for strategic direction insights, with practical action points to improve the efficiency and efficacy of your overall sales and marketing plan.
The importance and challenges of data
Data is everything. But it is how you use this data that is important. For example, think about our brain. It is stuffed with a lifetime of experiences. However, making sense of all these memories and experiences (real and imagined) and using them to guide our future decision making is a real challenge.
This challenge is the same for businesses, where information and experience are gathered and stored – and now need to be organised, segmented, and used in a way that will positively benefit both the business and its customers.
We’ve all heard of the saying “knowledge is power,” and for businesses knowing their customers inside and out and being able to target and personalise their customer journey is tremendously important. Especially for those businesses who have a lot of customers purchasing small ticket items repeatedly, typically e-commerce sites, (however, the same principles apply across the board, albeit not always to the same degree.)
An invaluable tool for business
Data helps to support and drive business growth, as it can be used to increase sales by not only retaining existing customers who have an emotional connection with your brand, but also by bringing new customers on board. Thereby increasing the diversity of your customer base and subsequently increasing sales, margins and profits in the short, medium, and long term.
Data can also be vital for brand development and consistency. It allows marketing teams to monitor messaging and ensure it is consistent and on-brand at every customer touchpoint. Ultimately, it can help marketing teams remain in control of brand messaging.
However, for most businesses, the most important benefit data can bring is a reduction in wasted time, money, and marketing efforts on campaigns that just don’t work. Ultimately, good data is what will help you to make better informed strategic decisions, which in turn will increase turnover and profitability.
But where does your data come from?
Today’s data comes in many shapes and from a wide range of sources, including:
- Social media
- Advertising campaigns
- Stored data
- CRM software
- Call centres
- Mobile usage
- Web analytics
- Paid third party sources
These sources of data can provide you with a valuable perspective of your customer journey, how your marketing efforts effect customers at different stages, and how you can use this data to see beyond last-click attribution.
History vs. Today
Historically, last-click attribution is how we’ve always managed analytics. Taking a very narrow perspective of where the customer has come from (their last click) and jumping straight into the sale. Most of us haven’t really considered the entire journey customers have taken, or the experiences and touchpoints along the way.
Today, marketers must be equipped with the right tools to measure activity better. And this requires investment, training, and time. Teams need to have access to an active digital dashboard where they can visualise customer analytics at a glance, including all of the various digital and offline touchpoints, to improve the customer journey.
How we can use data proactively rather than reactively
In today’s world, digital consumers demand things instantly. They want their questions answered immediately, not in 24 hours. Because of the growing demand for immediate response, e-commerce organisations are now under even more pressure to deliver faster response business models, allowing them to react to new customer behaviours and environments in real time.
In this sense, businesses need to be in a position to use data fast and at scale – but we don’t mean you should drop the personalisation. Instead, we advise that you get to know your customers inside out and back to front. This is where one-to-one relationship marketing becomes a reality.
- Think about your planning
You need to break down your overall marketing plan to create a strategic marketing platform, and then take this further to develop media-specific marketing strategies. From here, it is then possible to derive an actionable marketing plan with smaller bitesize aims and objectives. This will allow you to use your data more effectively, providing a clearer understanding of what you need to extract to achieve your marketing ambitions.
For example, for brand building, you could look at customer behaviour. Analysing customers interactions at certain touchpoints and analysing their behaviour to evolve insights to improve those that are below par, boosting the overall customer experience and deepening your brand relationship with your customer.
- Cleanse your data
It’s a painstaking task, we know, but it is the best thing for your business. Look for duplication and fragmented records, filling in the gaps and bringing your data up to scratch. Smart data builds strong relationships. Without cleansed data, you’ll end up with less effective outcomes. Also, sending emails without personalisation can even have a negative impact these days, damaging long-term relationships instead of improving them.
- Accountability is key
No one person is capable of managing the entire customer journey, data management and integration; however, having different teams and people accountable at different stages does help. Introducing a cross-functional approach is great for businesses. Everyone is working together to achieve their objectives and targets, while at the same time feeding their efforts into overall company performance.
- Tailoring communications is essential
Across the digital landscape, customers have become more tuned to how brands communicate with them. They want their buying process to be seamless. You need to be in a position to manage cross-channel interactions and see how these feed into individual journeys.
Customers no longer expect:
- to be referred to in the third person.
- formality and ambiguity.
- generalisation in communications.
Marketing teams need to track, know, and understand all individual customer journeys and personalise the content accordingly. It might seem an impossible task, however, it can be done.
Tracking and proving ROI
ROI has often been a sticking point for marketing departments when it comes to justifying budget spending. However, tracking campaigns and their success can be quite a challenge – especially if your sales and marketing departments aren’t aligned. There are solutions to help if, and only if, you have a clear picture of your customer journey. These solutions can include:
- Integrating manual inputsat popular customer contact points. The manual approach might be to simply ask your customers or your sales team how a lead was captured and converted, with the information then being added to the correct campaign and logged for reporting use.
- Using integrated systems such as CRM softwareto help automate processes and generate in-depth reports. These automated solutions offer tracking features and identify where a customer is located in the sales pipeline.
User-friendly analytic programmes should be fully integrated with existing CRM systems (such as Active Campaign and Leadfeeder) – providing evidence of any value between marketing campaigns and sales volumes/profit margins. Important to note is that whether you opt for manual or automated, you must communicate your system company-wide. Everyone needs to know what codes relate to what campaign for any data to be useful in reporting.
Changing the face of data
A great example of good data use in practice is from the UK’s largest bakery chain, Greggs. Greggs’ marketing and sales efforts have continued to grow over the years, with the company reporting a record level of sales in 2019. One of the main factors behind this success was their substantial investment in data insight through digital marketing – in other words, mapping out and improving the customer journey.
Using these insights, Greggs continue to look for areas of growth and opportunities to increase their market share. And, moving into 2020, the retail bakery chain vows to continue to invest in its integrated platform and loyalty data programmes, not only to increase revenue but also to continue building and strengthening their brand.
In order for you to get the most out of your data consider:
Data segmentation and personalisation. It’s not a nice to have; it’s a MUST HAVE. It is the one thing that can easily help to achieve those all-important business objectives and increase ROI without any great effort or cost. Why? Because if your existing customers believe that your company cares about them, this will naturally lead to increased retention levels. In other words, they feel greater loyalty towards your brand than you do towards “Joe Bloggs” down the street.
Communication is vital. Keeping the lines of communication open internally is essential.
Everyone should know how their aims and objectives fit in with the overarching commercial strategy. You can have the best automated, integrated software systems in the world; however, if you don’t have the entire business on board, your data problems will almost certainly continue.
Create goals, test and monitor results – and test again. Tracking your results against specific goals, with continual analysis and refinement, should never be underestimated. Complacency is the number one enemy to watch out for when things are going well, because marketing operates in a dynamic landscape where what works well today may not do so tomorrow.
Consider unique calls to action, URLs, QR codes, promotional codes, phone numbers, emails, and even microsites. Trying different things is not panic station marketing when it fits within an overall strategic attitude towards data analysis. In the word of Nike, “Just do it” (and then measure it).
As marketing teams, you need to understand the value proposition in every campaign that you run. What is the value your audience gets out of your communications/campaigns? Not you – your audience. Stand in their shoes. What do they want? It’s probably pretty much the same thing that you want. Treating others as you wish to be treated yourself is a pretty useful bit of advice to keep in mind when trying to understand your customers’ pain points.
Find out more
For a greater understanding of how to get the most out of your data to improve the efficacy and efficiency of your overall strategic marketing plan, you might need the help of a marketing agency. If you would like to find out more about Abacus Marketing, please call Stephen Taylor-Brown, our Managing Director, on 020 3858 7836 or email him at [email protected] to arrange a no-obligation conference call or face-to-face meeting. Find out more at www.abacusmarketing.co.uk