According to research, nearly half of all marketing leaders maintain that data analytics is one of the top three capabilities essential to the success of their organization. However, data analytics also makes 71 percent of marketers feel overwhelmed and 69 percent feel distracted. Yes, the ability to analyze data and glean actionable insights is mission critical, but it is also likely responsible (at least partly) for our growing dependence on Pepto-Bismol, aspirin and sleep aids. To help you recover a little peace of mind, we’ve gathered seven simple steps you can take to make gleaning actionable insights from your data a stress-free affair.
1. Pre-Prep Data
Before your data can give you the kind of insights that lead to your company experiencing its best year yet, you’ve got to make sure you are working with high-quality data. As the tech saying goes, “garbage in, garbage out.” The quality of the data you are working with has a direct and immediate impact on the quality of the decisions you make using said data. Regardless of its source, your data needs to be clean, complete, accurate, standardized and timely. Fortunately, data quality is easy to maintain and continuously improve when you use a martech-specific data management and enrichment tool that organizes and enhances your data in real-time.
2. Consider Problems and Goals
Marketing author, Mark Schaefer maintains, “You don’t have to be a math geek or a statistician who has all the right answers. But you do need to know enough about data analysis to ask the right ” Finding great insights begins with knowing specifically what it is you want to know. This part of the process will take some time and consideration; however, if you are diligent in carefully considering what problem you would like to solve or goal you would like to reach, you will find the remaining steps will fall more readily into place. This not only enables you to find the answers you are looking for, but it will also accelerate the speed of your arrival. For example, if your goal is to replicate the success of a marketing campaign from the previous year, a few questions to help you begin your problem/goal dissection, include:
- What Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are most relevant to the problem/goal?
- How can each KPI be changed, improved or manipulated?
- What outcome will mark the endeavor a success?
3. Choose Measurements
Once you have identified the information you want to know and the KPIs that impact it most, it’s time to choose how you will measure your data. A few of the most common ways to gauge popular marketing queries, such as customer engagement, lead generation, campaign performance and brand loyalty, include measuring:
- Number of likes, shares, or comments
- Site visitors
- Pages viewed
- Bounce rates
- Traffic sources
- Opt-In rates
- Open rates
- Leads generated
- Conversion rates
- Click-through rates
Ideally you should have data from the previous year to help you establish a benchmark to measure future data against. However, if this is not available, then the data you gather now will become your benchmark. Also, if you haven’t already invested in a data dashboard, now is the time. This tool makes tracking and comparing multiple data sets a much simpler and easier process.
4. Select Segments
Dividing your customers and prospects into a variety of groups and subgroups for various data experiments is one of the best ways to not only learn who your best customers are, but why they are choosing your brand. Segmentation is a step that is often full of surprises and learning opportunities. When you take an unbiased look at the demographics, psychographics and geographics of your customers and prospects, you can create a variety of useful profiles. These profiles in turn will empower you to fine-tune messages, be more competitive, identify new opportunities and invest your energy and budget in the people who support your business most.
5. Test and Experiment
At the end of the day, data is comprised of numbers, and just as there are lots of ways to mathematically arrive at a certain number, there are numerous ways to gauge marketing performance and test marketing theories. Once you know the type of experiment you want to conduct, choose a small subsection of your segment to test. However, before you test actual subjects, run your experiments on in-house subjects to ensure everything is working smoothly. A few of the most common ways to gather actionable data via tests and experiments include:
- A/B Tests — The backbone of performance insights, A/B tests enable you to hone messages and cater to customer preferences that move the needle.
- Surveys and Polls – Quick and inexpensive, surveys and polls allow you to gather large volumes of data in a short time. Pay careful attention to the questions you ask to make sure you are asking what you need to know.
- Interviews and Focus Groups — Time intensive and sometimes expensive, focus groups are a go-to for revelations on why something isn’t working or how customers will respond to brand changes before they are launched.
6. Review Results
Once your tests are over and all data is in, you are ready to review your results. Depending on the size of your sample segment, you will likely need the aid of a data dashboard in order to compare measurements in a timely manner. Your dashboard should have a reporting feature that enables you to isolate data variables as needed and convert findings into shareable visuals (graphs, tables, charts, etc.) that empower your team and executive leaders to instantly see and understand your findings.
7. Take Actions
After everyone involved in the decision-making process has had a chance to look at results, gather everyone together for a next steps meeting. Here, you will want to brainstorm actions and responses to data findings. Encourage everyone to recommend actions, from changes in campaign approaches and customer acquisition strategies, to allocating a larger portion of the budget to a new media or geographic area, and more. Prioritize the actions your team wants to take and then go for it. Collect data on your new actions and repeat steps one through seven again.