Sales and marketing are different, but they have the same goal: to convert consumers into customers. However, while sales has taken great strides to use updated techniques and tools, many marketers seem to still be operating in 2009, working off their instincts and the most basic knowledge of SEO.
These days, successful marketing needs to be high-tech and data-driven, not built on gut feelings and good intentions. If your business needs to bring your marketing into the third decade of the new millennium, learning how to make a data-driven marketing strategy is your first step.
Change Your Marketing Department
To use data in your marketing, you need marketers who know how to use data. If your marketing team has only aged in the last decade, it’s likely time for you to introduce some fresh faces — ideally those with a background in data. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should issue pink slips to your entire marketing department; instead, you might consider:
- adding a business analysis team to your business. This is a good option for a larger business that needs assistance with data outside merely the marketing sphere. While data professionals would work closely with the marketing team, they could also complete other data-driven projects for sales, R&D, IT and other departments.
- educating your existing marketing experts through continuing education or training. This is perhaps the most cost-effective option, and it is also a compassionate option that helps retain and build loyalty with employees. You can use tax deductions and credits to fund the continuing education of your marketers.
- hiring one or two marketers with data experience to lead the data revolution. You don’t have to completely transform your marketing team, but you do need to introduce an important change that spurs the adoption of data-driven strategies. To that end, you can add a couple new faces in prominent positions (like team leads) to shake up normal marketing patterns.
Understand What Data You Need
Some data is useful, but too much data will overwhelm your marketing team, slow down operations and result in less success than your previous strategies. Therefore, it’s important that you devote some time to determining what kinds of data your marketing department needs to thrive — and for that, you’ll need to make goals for what you want your marketing efforts to accomplish.
You should spend time talking to your marketing and sales divisions as well as researching your market, your existing accounts and any intriguing or promising data-driven strategies. For instance, if you run a B2B, you should investigate account-based marketing tools, which might be exactly what your business has been missing. If you aren’t certain whether certain types of data or strategies will work for you, you can implement tests, where you experiment with new techniques for a certain period and use metrics to determine success or failure. Ultimately, your goal should be to identify what you want your business to do and how data can get you there.
Gather That Data
The first step in using data in your marketing is gathering data — and this is also often the first roadblock businesses encounter when trying to craft a data-driven strategy. It’s important not only where you find your data but also how and from whom. You can and should utilize all your online locations, such as your website and social media pages, to collect information on your prospects and leads — to include what content they interact with, what keywords they use and more — but you should also use third-party data providers to give you access to other data from around the web. However, you should be careful when trusting third-party data providers; you should thoroughly vet them to ensure you are getting accurate and useful data that meets your specific needs.
Too often, businesses focus so intently on data collection that they neglect data analysis. Data analysis is arguably the most important step in data application because it is where you glean all your important insights, which you will use to alter your strategy and boost success. Data analysis is a delicate science — one that requires extensive knowledge and experience. If you perform analysis improperly, you could follow the wrong path for your business. This is why you cannot foist data upon your existing marketing team but instead you must retrain or hire those with data expertise.
Don’t Stop Making Data a High Priority
Data-driven marketing is not a one-and-done endeavor; it is a major shift that requires consistent effort to get right. You should stress to your marketing team that data is not a fleeting trend — they will continue to use data to drive their campaigns for the rest of their careers or at least their remaining time at your company. It is only by continuing to utilize data, to test new data tools and strategies, that your business will grow and thrive.