Connecting The Data

In this day and age, many marketers exist in a paradoxical state: they’re data-rich but insights-poor. Marketers know they have to build more complete customer profiles and to connect the dots (in other words, apply insights) at the consumer level across multiple marketing channels.  How do they plan on getting there?

That’s exactly what we asked in our survey, in which we partnered with Infogroup Targeting Solutions and surveyed 700+ top marketers.

We found that 68% of marketers expect their data-related expenditures to increase. While this stat reveals most marketers are making data-driven strategy a priority this year, they’re all at different stops on the data train.

Regardless, marketing goals generally maintain a common thread: better targeting, more efficient campaigns, greater customer retention, and ultimately, higher revenue. In order to meet these objectives, brands need the right systems and people in place to manage data collection, hygiene, analysis, and application.

1. Data collection: As consumers become increasingly fragmented, digital technology has made customer data more accessible and measurable than ever before. (Not to mention, the implementation costs per customer are marginal.)

For example, using email analytic tools, brands can gauge both implied and declared customer interests through open and click-through rates. With Web tracking solutions, marketers can also target customers based on transactional data like purchase history to trigger automated email campaigns. These data-driven programs lead to enhanced marketing personalization.

2. Data hygiene: Although collecting data has become significantly easier, cleaning data -- not so much. Data maintenance should take place on a weekly or at least monthly basis. However, 26% of the marketers we surveyed couldn’t remember the last time they’d cleaned their data.Other respondents had even been hoarding transactional data that’s more than a decade old.

Don’t waste time using outdated, duplicate, or junk data. Your campaign performance and sending reputation will thank you, since you won’t target uninterested prospects or end up on an ISP blacklist.

3. Data analysis: The volume and speed of data collection today can exceed our ability to comprehend it all. Data systems are great for storage, identifying trends and running models. On the other hand, dedicated analysts are the ones who build the customer profiles and figure out how to leverage this information to target the right segments appropriately. Yet only one in five respondents said they expect to hire a data analyst or strategist this year.

4. Data application: Data comes full circle in the application stage, when insights gathered from analysis are applied and executed. As digital marketing campaigns become more data-driven over time, targeting and messaging become more effective.  For these improvements to continue, marketing programs should maintain consistency across channels and performance results should be measured on a regular basis.

While there’s a lot of work to do in order for marketers to keep up with their customer information, data doesn’t have to be overwhelming with the right infrastructure and people in place. Once data is collected, cleaned, analyzed, and applied, it reveals its own value and justifies future data-related investments.

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2 comments about "Connecting The Data".
  1. Bill Kaplan from FreshAddress, Inc. , February 20, 2013 at 2:30 p.m.
    Great points, Michael. Data overload is a problem most marketers, VPs, and CEOs struggle with every day. Who doesn't want more data to inform and enable optimization of every decision? It's very hard to resist. That being said, they key to success for 99% of people and marketers is to have distilled, actionable information at their fingertips so you can "see the forests for the trees." Whether leading the MIT Blackjack Team or advising FreshAddress clients, my goal has always been to solve intractable problems with simple and elegant solutions. Winning consistently at the game of blackjack and optimizing one's marketing efforts both require mounds of data, advanced technology, and sophisticated modeling analysis with the end goal being to develop a simple scoring system and results set to act upon. At FreshAddress, our SafeToSend™ Deliverability Solution - http://biz.freshaddress.com/SafeToSendDeliverabilitySolution.aspx - solves the data hygiene problem at every point of collection and review. Yes or no - is that email address safe to send? And now, we have just released our eSpend Score™ - http://biz.freshaddress.com/eSpendScore.aspx - to provide marketers with a score (0 to 100) for each of their email addresses, which measures a customer’s propensity to engage and spend at a particular email address. Email marketing can seem like rocket science at times. Fortunately, with the right partner and the right toolset, you can be sure to "send the right offer to the right person at the right email address."
  2. Michael Fisher from Yesmail Interactive , February 24, 2013 at 7:18 p.m.
    Bill thanks for great feedback. Couldn't agree with you more. Good hygiene processes are critical for success in an email program. When marketers interrogate the scads of data available to inform marketing decisions nothing could be more frustrating than to learn your decision was impacted by a bad address. This challenge is only compounded when marketers seek to leverage new data sources from which they choose to automate their messages and decisions and then learn they have data quality issues. As we see marketers leveraging more descriptive data that moves beyond web and interactive data; the need for data quality will gain more importance.