At this point, almost everyone uses data, but from my experience running Firebrand Group I'm still shocked at how many businesses only use it at a surface level. Glancing over data is great to quickly collect basic information, but it's still critical to take a deep dive and ensure that you're getting all of the metrics you need.
Skimming data could leave marketers' efforts sinking, meaning they aren't fully reaching their customer base. It's important to really understand the data you have to work with and any larger context required so it can influence your decisions.
Given the vast quantities of data marketers generate these days, it's tempting to stay safely on the surface, but this would be a mistake. While glancing over your data may seem like the more efficient option, it doesn't produce the same results over time. As Dara Treseder, CMO of GE Ventures, says, "We have amazing tools that allow us to skim over a lot of information, but we need to remember to swim in it as well."
Let's say you're measuring the reach of a marketing campaign, and you notice the ROI was lower than you were hoping for. As a data skimmer, you might just label the campaign unsuccessful. A data swimmer, however, would dive in further to understand what caused the ROI to be lower than expected and what factors could be shifted to achieve the desired results.
Consider these four reasons you should be diving into your data to gain insights:
1. Data can help increase sales.
From tracking sales leads and SEO performance to delving into email marketing analytics, data allows you to pinpoint what efforts are driving your bottom line. For online marketplace Way.com, data is vital to understanding supply and demand dynamics, explains Binu Girija, the company's founder and CEO. "In our parking vertical, knowing insights driven by data regarding market pricing and utilization will help in increasing the average order value, thus increasing the sales."
"We run national campaigns for our clients, but we've found that some of their best dollars are spent targeting locals," explains Lathan Fritz, founder of Amerisales. "If we run a compelling ad directed at a specific niche, let's say purchasing managers in Chicago, pretty soon you're actually talking directly to that individual and you know who they are and what they're looking for." Follow Fritz's approach and data can help you determine the best strategy for effectively reaching members of a niche group and showcasing what they are most likely to respond to.
2. Data can give you a holistic view of your company.
You should already know where the money is going in your company, but I think we'd all agree that time is an incredibly crucial resource as well. Discovering what your employees spend the most time on will help you determine the areas where you can most easily improve your processes.
Famous UFC fighter Georges St-Pierre is credited with saying "When you pay attention to detail, the big picture will take care of itself." You may not need to step into the Octagon next week, but as an analyst of your company's performance, you do have to cultivate a love for details. Diving into your data will show you precisely those areas where your company should target its improvement efforts.
3. Data can help you find new audience members when their interest is at its peak.
You may have started out by serving a specific niche, but a close investigation of your data will allow you to find new customers and meet their needs for a certain product. To glean those insights, sports consulting and technology company FanThreeSixty transforms data from live events into information that helps businesses engage more customers.
"From a loaf of bread to a vase of orchids, everything's better when it's fresh," explains FanThreeSixty CEO Robb Heineman. "That includes data -- especially data from live events. Think of it this way: is it more valuable to market LeBron James' latest Nikes the minute after an amazing slam dunk or five days later? It doesn't take a longtime marketer to know the answer."
4. Data can help you better know and better serve your customers.
Knowing your customer is important, and customer relationship management software can help. Effectively managing pertinent information about your customers will help you spot opportunities to cater to their needs and generate more sales.
"Often, the biggest thing blocking the path to success is a lack of insight or information on a subject," explains Jeffrey Pruitt, chairman and CEO of business design and innovation firm Tallwave. "Once we have it, it's easier to make decisions and map the right path or course correct."
It's also important to look for areas where you need to improve your services. Customers wield a substantial amount of influence, and a poor experience from a small number of them can quickly erode your brand. Use data to improve customer satisfaction, and whenever possible try to rebuild relationships with previously unsatisfied customers.
When it comes to data, details are everything. With an accurate picture of what's going on in your organization, and following the four steps above, you can take the actions necessary to significantly improve your performance.