Why your marketing needs to be data-driven
Nowadays, analytics and data are at the core of any successful marketing strategy, playing a meaningful role in moving your business forward. Whether or not you’re using data, you can’t deny that using data correctly can serve you well.
For marketing to be effective, it must be data-driven. Evaluating results and confirming opinions and hypotheses with numbers is pivotal for digital marketing in today’s technology-based world. Meanwhile, data on user behavior, social media activity, and other things helps you focus your marketing efforts on what works.
Table of contents
- What is marketing data?
- How is data used in marketing?
- Benefits of data-driven marketing
- Challenges of working with big data in marketing
- Summing up
What is marketing data?
Data benefits your business by deepening your understanding of customers’ needs and expectations and by driving your company’s bottom-line growth. Not surprisingly, marketers want to increase their data use. According to the Gartner Marketing Data & Analytics 2020 survey, 85% of marketing executives say that by 2022, “significantly more” of their organization’s marketing decisions will be based on marketing analytics.
Marketing analytics uses data on marketing activities and user behavior obtained from marketing platforms and other sources:
- Websites and mobile applications
- Social networks
- Advertising services
- CRM systems
- Email and call tracking services
Complete and qualitative data is the basis of advanced analytics, and therefore it’s crucial not only to collect data but to be sure of its quality and relevance. As recent Gartner research shows, poor data quality is one of the main reasons marketers don’t trust insights obtained from reports. That’s why we recommend choosing martech services with data monitoring features like OWOX BI.
In 2021, when the whole world has been operating online for more than a year, it’s difficult to imagine marketing in the old way without using big data. Let’s look at exactly what data-driven marketing is and how a data-driven marketing strategy can help your brand achieve its business goals.
How is data used in marketing?
Simply put, marketers rely on user behavior and business data to make informed decisions and achieve marketing goals. In other words, data helps marketers do more efficient marketing: choose better interaction channels and creatives, more precisely target audiences, and show relevant advertising to each user segment.
It’s also worth noting that today, 61% of customers expect a personalized approach backed by data and to be provided with precisely the products or services they need at the very moment, on the device they’re using.
To respond to shifting customer preferences and needs, marketers need to make management decisions based on data and the results of its analysis. Most often, these decisions can be divided into the following tasks:
- Optimizing websites and landing pages
- Personalizing advertising campaigns
- Increasing sales and LTV
- Boosting customer loyalty
- Email marketing
User behavior data is undoubtedly the driving force for marketers to proactively navigate the changing marketing landscape. However, collecting data and actually being a data-driven company are two different things. The Gartner Marketing Data and Analytics Survey 2020 shows that 54% of CMOs are unimpressed by the results of their marketing data and analytics.
Poor data quality, unactionable results, and a lack of clear recommendations are among the reasons why marketers cannot use data to its full potential. Moreover, marketers have to wait a long time for reports from analysts, and often when they receive these reports, it’s too late. That’s why we believe business users should be able to build reports on their own to untangle data and find relevant insights.
As you can see, despite the progress that’s been made, marketing technologies still have room for improvement. After all, in an ideal world, marketing would be based not only on data but on insights.
Benefits of data-driven marketing
Data-driven marketing allows specialists to stay the course under constantly changing conditions, grow faster than opponents, understand their customers, and, most importantly, earn more in a world where the cost of advertising is rising and competition is increasing.
The most valuable benefit of data-driven marketing is comprehensive knowledge of your customers’ needs (both existing and potential).
By embracing data, marketers can make informed decisions about what strategies to take on, what marketing efforts are justified, and what actions are unsuccessful and only drain resources.
Let’s see what key advantages there are for marketers that make use of their data:
- Optimize marketing channels. You need to take different approaches and strategies to customers coming from different sources if you want to raise your conversion rates. For example, you can dynamically change content based on gathered data about users.
- Segment your target audience. The point is not about spreading your message to as many audiences as possible. Ideally, your brand messages should be different for different people and fit their interests.
- Personalize the customer experience. This is a logical continuation of audience segmentation. Users want to receive information/products/services when they’re useful and necessary for them — and, of course, at the moment when they’re required. In today’s supply and demand world, buyers can afford to be picky. In turn, companies must ensure they are the first to meet buyers’ needs.
- Incorporate marketing automation. A vast amount of data coming from different sources can get anyone into a mess. Processing this data can take up all of your working time (and more), lead to a boring routine, and, most importantly, result in inevitable human errors, ultimately leading to a loss of data quality and a lack of faith in data. In the modern world, working with data without high-grade automation simply doesn’t make sense. Automation affects a bunch of things, from reporting and scoring leads to sending segments, managing rates, and dynamically swapping content on your website and in emails.
Faster, better, more proficient! What can you do to transform your business, accelerate routine digital work, and increase your marketers’ productivity? Let’s look at the basic concepts and functions of marketing automation along with an example of marketing automation for analyzing marketing performance.
- Employ an ongoing testing program. Everything can be evaluated and measured in digital marketing, and you should take full advantage of this. Of course, no one says you should test 24/7, but... why not? By using analytics and constantly getting fresh raw data, you can test as many hypotheses as you can come up with.
Using all the capabilities and advantages of data-driven marketing, you can get a holistic picture of your performance. In addition, with thoughtful data visualizations (reports in a convenient and accessible format), you can share the insights you obtain with both colleagues and other departments (or management) to ensure they receive the correct data on time.
Challenges of working with big data in marketing
Big data is invaluable in getting a 360-degree view of what’s happening with your marketing; however, everything would be too fabulous if there were no problems. The more data, the more difficult it is to collect it, store it, process it, and get useful insights from your data silos.
Fortunately, all these problems have long been known, and there are ways to solve them. Let’s take a look.
Analysts collect data from disparate systems and services; and naturally, the structure and format of data isn’t the same across all these sources. In addition, to be sure of the quality of data received from services, you should constantly monitor for updates. If you don’t do this, you’ll receive poor quality data based on which you’ll make erroneous conclusions. It’s a proven fact that marketers waste 21% of their marketing budgets because of bad data.
Solution. The best choice is to set up automatic data collection instead of collecting data manually. At the same time, your chosen connector must provide you with the following features:
- Security. Ensure complete control over access to your data.
- Completeness. Collect raw, unsampled, non-duplicated, high-granularity data.
- Monitoring. Control your data quality and relevance.
We recommend using data connectors such as OWOX BI Pipeline that can collect data from your website and various advertising platforms and enrich it with data from your CRM, email, or call tracking systems.
It’s also worth preparing a place for storing the collected data in advance. We recommend using Google BigQuery, as it’s currently the best option for marketers.
For marketing departments, the best solution for storing data is a data lake — specifically, the popular and convenient Google BigQuery.
Structuring data from disparate sources so that all data in a particular field is in the same format is rather tricky. For example, you might collect cost data from different advertising platforms (Twitter Ads, Facebook Ads, etc.), and each system might have its own currency (dollars, pounds, euros) and have its own label for this data field. Converting all this raw data into one benchmark currency is certainly not a task you can handle without automation.
Solution. When working with so much data, many errors and discrepancies can appear, mainly related to the clutter of SQL queries and scripts. If something fails or changes (an update to a service API, for example), everything will collapse.
Process automation is your safeguard. The connector you choose to collect data should normalize it: clean it, stabilize it, check its quality, convert currencies, and so on. For example, OWOX BI Pipeline ensures the quality and security of collected data. It can also give you a visual report at any time on the relevance of data uploaded to Google Analytics from advertising services.
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Data blending is an essential step to get a complete picture of important metrics such as ROI, allocate your budget efficiently, and eliminate poorly working ideas. The difficulty of such blending is that it’s simply impossible to put all the data into one table.
Solution. There is no difficulty if you use only one data source. Or perhaps two data sources, such as a website and Instagram. Then you can easily use free services like Google Data Studio.
However, suppose you have a large project: You use different platforms and launch many advertising campaigns simultaneously, and you want to take into account your customers’ online and offline actions. In this case, you cannot do without special services such as OWOX BI in addition to Data Studio, Tableau, Power BI, etc. along with an analyst’s assistance. In short, you should choose tools that will ensure universal importing, high data granularity, and data quality.
Note! Due to the frequent changes in data structure by large players in the market, many brands have started applying custom approaches, such as data modeling. Instead of preparing data for each report, the OWOX BI team uses a data build tool (DBT) to model customer data.
The main task of building reports is to provide decision-makers with answers to their questions as quickly as possible. Key brand success indicators presented in understandable visualizations help decision-makers act based on data, not guesses. Reports have two main functions:
- Performance evaluation reports — monitor, evaluate and analyze workflows
- Custom/ad-hoc reports — search for insights and answers to questions
Solution. Visualizing and connecting the right data sources is a time-consuming process that is often simply impossible without the help of analysts. Business users cannot build reports on their own, and this slows down work processes. If they could create ROPO reports, for example, it would bring a lot of benefits to the company's performance.
Also, in addition to using the resources of an analytical team, you should make sure to:
- Choose the appropriate attribution model (which considers the features of your sales funnel)
- Use complete, high-quality data (so you can avoid limitations)
- Automatically update the data on which the reports are based, etc.
Depending on your company’s needs and size, you can choose any convenient reporting service. Everything from the familiar Google Sheets to sophisticated business intelligence tools are at your disposal.
With the help of services such as OWOX BI, you can give yourself a gift of free time for insights and perfecting your marketing strategies. With the unique OWOX BI approach, you can create reports of any complexity without analysts and without rewriting SQL queries. This is especially relevant in the world of the new Google Analytics.
To improve the marketing department’s performance, you need to know everything about your customers. Applying all the above solutions will help you completely change the way you do business. By getting rid of tedious and routine work, you’ll be able to put all your efforts into improving marketing strategies.
The good news is that valuable metrics and advanced data analytics are literally under your feet in today’s marketing world. Companies can use many different tools (paid and free) to define their weaknesses and strengths.
The bad news is that with all the variety of technologies and their constant development, the “Make Everything OK!” button has still not been invented. You won’t receive a magical solution in one day. However, if you implement a clear strategy, you’ll definitely see immediate results.