In the past year, there’s been an ongoing scramble to figure out what big data really means and how they can use it to impact their business processes. The idea of “now what?” holds true for many marketers, as until a year or so ago, data was largely the responsibility of the IT department. However, there are a number of ways that marketing can utilize big data to make them seem like stars – data can impact business processes and even the company’s bottom line.
Here are four things that you can do with your data right now that will not only help improve your marketing campaign performance, but also drive increased ROI.
Big data has our attention because it’s new and we still have to so much to learn. But it’s important not to abandon the straightforward, “small” data that’s been business-critical for years. Specifically, your CRM system is the backbone of your business and a window into your revenue stream. Although we often think of CRM as sales’ domain, the account specific data it contains is the foundation of successful marketing programs. By providing insight into account status and pipeline activity, it enables marketing to build a scalable account-based framework that extends into website, social, advertising and search.
It’s critical that the CRM data is the driver of those programs, because the account data puts all the big data in context. Though the account lens, marketers can break down big data into metrics that actually connect to business goals. For example, rather than run a blanket display ad campaign that reaches thousands of unidentified viewers, you can run targeted display ad campaigns with targeted messages that align to different phases of the buying cycle. You can also target content on your website so that it works in conjunction with sales to move prospects through the pipeline or nurture a current customer relationship.
That account-based framework enables web analytics to be more than “after-the-fact” reporting for reporting’s sake. When you’re using traditional analytics it’s easy to get bogged down counting page views from visitors that don’t matter (wrong company, bots, someone’s cat walking across the keyboard, etc). You get stuck making fuzzy guesses about attribution and website performance based on metrics that might not even connect to your business goals.
However, if you look beyond traditional analytics to collect rich company data about visitors, you gain the necessary insight to proactively drive your conversions. The information you glean about your website visitors should be collected, analyzed and put into action throughout every phase of the buyers’ journey. For example, if you know visitors from a particular company has visited multiple product pages, you can serve them targeted content such case studies or white papers the next time they’re on your site. You can also collect and report on buying signals, so that you can proactively engage interested companies through ads, direct marketing and sales engagement.
Of course, in order to make real-time data-based decision, you need immediate, easy access to data. In the past, data has been the exclusive domain of the IT department or a data scientist. But data that can only be understood by the data team doesn’t do anyone much good. It’s not enough to be able to put in a query request – you have to have common sets of tools that all departments can use to explore and discover correlations in a meaningful way.
As marketing begins to own more and more of the customer lifecycle, it’s critical to have feedback and insight from every touch point, including during the sales cycle and post sales. Keeping data in departmental silos prevents the kind of exploration, research and testing that will give us deeper understanding of big data.
That doesn’t mean that everyone should be looking at sprawling sets of raw data. It needs to be organized in an interface that is equally user friendly and relevant for all stakeholders. Then each team can explore the data that pertains directly to them and data from other teams.
Data doesn’t offer actionable insights when it comes to your website or CRM. In fact, just as you need to merge those data sets internally, you need to merge data sets across channels and in all aspects of your marketing, even offline activities.
Social and advertising are channels where data often exists in siloes, but the effectiveness of these channels is amplified when they leverage data you’ve collected on your website or in your CRM system. If people have visited your website or are in the sales pipeline, you need to deliver a message via social or advertising that corresponds to their other engagements with your brand. The same goes for campaigns such as email marketing and in-person events.
You always want to know who your audience is, what types of communication they’ve had with you and how they have responded. When you leverage your data across all campaign types, you align with sales and have the opportunity to be an integral part of the revenue chain.