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In our push to be data-driven, do we risk becoming overly reliant on data? PHOTO: Jonathan Simcoe

We’re living in the age of the consumer. The internet has democratized the relationship between those who pay for a service or buy a product and those who sell it. For marketers, the sheer number of consumers available means a tremendous amount of data that can be used to drive purchase decisions.  In fact, according to Gartner, by 2022, 85% of the executives’ marketing-related decisions will be based on marketing analytics. The issue with this treasure trove of data is how not to drown in the ocean of information. Also, the need to use it effectively and in such a way that doesn’t erode the consumers’ trust. 

Over the past years, businesses have built martech stacks that collect and organize data more efficiently, even without the consumers’ consent, but is that all it takes to do data-driven marketing? We’ve turned to data-driven marketing experts to unveil the mystery. 

Data-Driven Marketing Explained

Data tells you a story. It tells you what happened with a particular customer or segment, but that’s not it. Data-driven marketing means going beyond what data is telling you today; it means being capable of using that information to make decisions that will impact your company tomorrow. 

Data-driven marketing sees data with a holistic eye as one tool to develop strategies. It means treating information, not as an answer but as the spark that will ignite better business results. 

To conduct data-driven marketing initiatives, companies need to include more than just information. They have to add their past experiences with the product, the marketers’ intuition and judgement, and qualitative and quantitative research to the mix to go from chasing data to being driven by it.

Related Article: What is Marketing Automation and How Does It Help Marketers?

Becoming a Data-Driven Marketer

Becoming data-driven goes beyond being a master of data analytics. As data becomes the cornerstone of marketing, we unearth some of the ways marketers can become data-driven in their daily practices. 

Understand Your Target Audience

Jake Jorgovan, CEO at Colorado Springs, CO.-based LeadCookie puts special emphasis on gaining a clear understanding of your target audience. He told us that “at one point, LeadCookie had 40% of website visitors with "marketing" as their job function. That meant that we had to re-assess our site content to provide actionable insights that marketing people could use immediately in their work.” 

Maybe your target audience isn’t the one you had intended in the beginning, and by looking at the data, you can make changes and retarget the audience that’s most likely to buy from you.

Create Personalized Offerings

Personalization is one place where data-driven marketing can drive benefits. According to an Ascend2 report, “delivering a better experience to customers is a top goal for a data-driven personalization strategy to achieve for nearly two-thirds (64%) of marketing influencers surveyed.”

By leveraging customer data effectively, companies can stay relevant and engage their audiences by delivering them a tailored, omnichannel experience that they can enjoy on and offline, with the added benefit of growing website traffic and conversions rates. 

Develop a Customer-Centric Approach

Switch your mentality from a company-centric to a customer-centric approach. From the top down, put your customers’ needs first when it comes to using data. Dmitry Azarov, CMO at Lakewood, CO.-based, itransition states that “every customer-facing department, should know how to combine data with words and emotions to create a story that will resonate with the customer.” 

This means using storytelling techniques to collect and assess data in such a way that it benefits the customer and doesn’t seem like a mindless collection.  

How To Leverage Data Ethically

Data usage and collection has grown exponentially among marketers, but that doesn’t mean that all the efforts to collect it are 100% ethical. The fact of ethical data-driven marketing is often overlooked, but it’s more important than ever to be able to gather data both effectively and ethically. 

Here are some ways in which marketers can leverage data ethically: 

  • Eliminate internal processes of acquiring third-party data. Use only data you’ve earned through explicit customer consent
  • Assign a business value to the data you’re collecting and give it purpose
  • Gain explicit consent over the use of data in every way you intend to use it
  • Make sure that all the data you collect can be traceable to a measurable effect over your customers
  • Offer consumers an opt-out for every instance where you aim to collect data
  • Don’t store your data in places where it could be reached by unscrupulous hands

Checklist Before Collecting Data for Marketing Purposes

While the proliferation of strategies and tools for collecting and leveraging data has made it easier than ever to gather customer data, that doesn’t mean data-driver marketers are allowed to do it and call it a day. 

Data-driven marketing involves not only data but also the will to enhance efficiency, build trust, and create value. If marketers are not careful, they might end up doing more harm than good to their customers. 

That’s why we created this short checklist. Before you collect data, ask yourself or your team these questions:

  1. Who has access to the data?
  2. Does the data contain sensitive information?
  3. What resources are needed to manage data ethics?
  4. How will collecting data affect the people it is collected from?
  5. Do we have data protection strategies to deploy in case of a breach?

If you can answer the questions, and your data collection efforts are effective and ethical, the road is open for you to enhance your data-driven marketing efforts.