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4 Essentials for a Data-Driven Marketing Strategy

People, we’re drowning in data; the world produces an astounding 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. However, for that data to be useful, marketing teams need to have a strategic plan for turning data into insights that can improve their campaigns. Simply put, data-driven marketing involves collecting customer data and then using that data to fuel a marketing strategy. It puts customer behavior at the forefront of marketing decision making, allowing businesses to deliver the right types of content to customers.

So how do we translate that to marketing execution? Data-driven marketing helps businesses create marketing content that is in sync with their customers’ expectations, behaviors, and demographics. But with the amount of data available today increasing at a rapid pace, how can marketers go about this strategy in an organized, logical, and compelling manner?

Here are four essentials every marketing team needs to effectively implement a data-driven marketing strategy.

A Well-Defined Goal

Before delving into a new campaign, creating a team, or even compiling data, marketers must first establish a goal or set of goals they hope to achieve that data can be leveraged to achieve. Direction is important.

Think about what may occur in the best-case scenario. Are you hoping to increase sales? Boost brand awareness? Bring in more foot traffic or sell more from your e-commerce platform? Research from Ascend2 shows that customer personalization is far and away the top reason companies are looking to use data to fuel their marketing. In fact, 70% of companies say “personalizing the customer experience” is their top data-driven goal.

Once you’ve selected a goal for your strategy, be sure it’s at the forefront of all steps to follow. All creative campaigns, calls to action, data collection strategies, and key performance indicators should follow suit, so don’t leave it by the wayside until mid-campaign when your actions haven’t met the goal.

Proper Data Management

At the center of it all, teams must be able to blend both internal customer data and external consumer data to arrive at the most well-rounded insights.

All data, including data generated from marketing tactics, customer data, or other types of internally-sourced information, is critical to discerning insights. Marketers can assess sales transactions already stored in their business applications like customer relationship management (CRM) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, customer interactions with customer service representatives, online surveys, and social listening, just to name a few methods.

Quality data ensures that marketers can deliver targeted, personalized messages to buyers that support and move them along the purchasing process in a natural way. However, collecting, analyzing, managing, and acting on this first- and third-party data is a complex challenge. To lead a data-driven strategy, be sure to use business applications with capable business intelligence and analytics, as solutions from companies like Infor Lawson may be more difficult to yield cross-functional insight.

A Strong Creative Team

Once you’ve collected and assessed your data, it’s time to convert your insights into a marketing campaign. It’s critical to have a creative team that can translate that data into a compelling and goal-reaching campaign. As Mark McGuiness of Copyblogger asserts, “Marketing is neither an art nor a science. It’s both.” The right creative team will be able to create a campaign that resonates from both an “art and science” perspective, and transform your data-fueled insights into a unique campaign.

One great way to allow data to inform your creative content is by looking to target a new customer segment. Using both internal customer data and external demographic data can be a great way to tap into a new customer segment. For example, if you’re looking to capture the attention of 18-24 year olds, compare your current strategy with wider, national data. You may find that data indicates this customer segment prefers content produced on Instagram, whereas you’re solely publishing on Twitter. You can use this same thought process when implementing other tactics into your overall strategy, like an influencer marketing program or even developing a paid social media advertisement.

Post-Campaign Analysis

Customer preferences will change, and so will the data influenced by those preferences. Be sure to consistently revise your campaigns as time progresses. Consistently analyzing data, campaign after campaign, will only allow you to understand your customers, their preferences, and the content they respond to even better.

Try to conduct a “post-mortem” analysis after completing each campaign. Which decisions were made from data, and which were made by instinct? What worked, and what didn’t? Identifying the achievements and areas of improvement for your marketing campaigns will make it much easier to create even better ones in the future.

Lisa Utzschneider, Chief Revenue Officer at Yahoo, sums it up best: “We’ve entered the world of big data, but now it’s about making that data actionable. Marketers have to unite data, creative content, and technology to achieve success. Understanding your audience comes first, but using that information to create more relevant, valuable, creative, and empowering experiences for consumers is the path to greater business success. And that’s the future of how data drives value for brands.”

If you’ve yet to transition to a data-driven marketing strategy, now’s the time. Be sure to include these essentials in your planning to produce an effective strategy for your organization.

Grady Neff Team Photo at Element Three

When asked to sum up himself with just a single sentence, Grady responded with the following, "Commander of the resistance, unrelenting leader in the defense of organic life, chocolate lover."