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Separating data from insights

As marketers depend more on digital channels to communicate with customers and prospects, so we gather more data about them. But not all of this data is useful to us, says JOHAN WALTERS, Technical Account Director at Acceleration Media.

Thanks to digital marketing channels ranging from websites, paid search, and display ads, through to rich media, mobile and social, marketers have more data about their customers and campaigns at their disposal than ever before.

With all the data flowing into the business from our electronic systems, our challenge today is not gathering data, but making sense of it. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of data, losing the significant data that we could use to improve our businesses in the process.

The first step: Know what you need to measure

The first step towards making more effective use of data from your digital channels and touch points is to understand what it is that you need to measure. You can gather a range of data about impressions, unique views, clickthroughs, and so on, but it is all meaningless unless you know what you want to learn from that data.

Therefore, you need to understand what your business goals and key performance indicators are so that you can align your digital marketing metrics behind them. This will enable you to gather the data that is most actionable for your business and use it to improve performance in line with your business goals.

For example, your business goal might be as simple as to drive sales through your e-commerce website. The data that you gather should help you to understand how customers arrived at your site, what encouraged them to purchase something, as well as how each element of your digital strategy helped to nudge them towards this goal.

The full picture: understand the customer journey

You can and should look at the performance of every element of your online strategy to improve and optimise. For example, you can track display campaigns to understand which creative executions drove the most clickthroughs and which placement delivered the highest number of leads.

This is all good, actionable information you can use to refine and improve campaigns. But the real magic happens when you look at the bigger picture to understand the customer journey often uncovering insights that are surprising and counterintuitive.

The customer journey is seldom just a single stop at a display ad there is far more to consider. For example, when a customer arrives at your website via a search engine query and makes a purchase, you might attribute the conversion to search. But with the right data at hand, you might know that he or she was exposed to a banner ad two weeks earlier and also interacted with a paid search ad before the query that brought him or her to your site.

Knowledge about this path to conversion enables you to streamline the customer journey as a whole, taking into account how the channels impact on each other.

Closing words

We are often told that the measurability and trackability of digital is its biggest advantage that the way it enables us to understand campaign performance and customer preference and behaviour are its most powerful benefits. This is all true, and it is data that drives these benefits.

But to make data really work for your business, you need to be able to turn it into actionable insight. This implies getting the metrics you are tracking right, ensuring that you have the right tools in place to analyse the data, and having the processes in place to get the insights to the people who can act on them.


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