data driven marketingBrands continue to collect more and more data from customer interactions from a variety of sources, all of which contributes to the big data buzz. With a wealth of data at their disposal, few would argue the critical role data should play in helping marketers make better decisions.

For instance, are customers opening email promotions? Are social campaigns paying off? Not only should data be used and analyzed to help personalize customer offers, but marketers should also be utilizing it to measure the effectiveness of their marketing efforts to improve future campaigns.  

Considering that 42 percent of data consumed by marketing organizations is sourced from external entities -- including social network providers -- marketers need to consider all customer channels. However, many struggle to use analytics outside of traditional sources, such as web analytics and email.

 To help with their analytics approach, marketers should look at the three essential phases that lie at the heart of every data-driven decision: Understand, Execute and Monitor. This methodology helps contextualize data and allow real business decisions to surface from the sea of numbers that are produced from marketing activity. Each of these three steps requires a different application of data and marketing analytics though.

1. Understand

Based on the source of the data, what type of business decisions can be extracted from the data? Analysis for the sake of analysis provides little value and consumes precious time in a marketer’s busy day.

For a marketer, it is best to develop a basic understanding of what they plan to accomplish with marketing analytics -- improved customer knowledge, new segments, channel effectiveness, competitive insights, etc. It might even be appropriate to back into data requirements by defining a core business challenge or key question that the organization would like to answer with the analysis. This will help determine exactly what data is required and possibly even identify new opportunities for capturing critical data in the future.

Be sure to understand the following:

  • The problem itself
  • The availability of data
  • The strategic outcome desired
  • The assumptions
  • The technology requirements

2. Execute

After developing a core understanding of the data itself and translating that into business strategy, it’s time to execute and act. Often involving some additional refinement of the information produced in the Understand phase, execution may be done through reporting engines, analytical models, testing and even spreadsheets.

For example, if the goal of an initiative is to improve online targeting, start with a series of tests (accessible in most digital marketing platforms) such as A/B testing, multi-variant testing, visual targeting or predictive targeting. Testing offers an automated means to use physical data, rather than intuition or gut feel, to define exactly how you should act to maximize marketing results.

3. Monitor

It’s critical for marketers to close the loop on analytical exercises through ongoing monitoring of a standard set of KPIs. This might be accomplished via a dashboard or periodic report, but the goal should be to standardize metrics over time so you can establish a benchmark for significant changes in the data that may alert you to opportunities to optimize marketing results. This information should also be available for marketers to better understand and initiate new campaign cycles.

Each of these three steps forms a perpetually-optimized process for analyzing marketing data. Naturally, it’s much easier to apply marketing analytics when a core system of records exists to capture, aggregate and analyze customer data from a variety of marketing channels. Yes, marketing analytics is the marketer’s new best friend. It’s crucial to performing and optimizing essential daily tasks -- but only if the tools are user-friendly, putting these three steps in the hands of marketers so they have full control over the marketing strategy.

Title image courtesy of Peshkova (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: Interested in reading more tips on using analytics for marketing? Check out Anil Batra's  5 Tips to Improve Marketing Campaigns Using Data