Marketers know that data drives good decisions, yet 90 percent of marketers feel that data is their organization’s most underused asset. At our August luncheon, we welcomed Angela Ridpath, former KCDMA President, to talk about strategies to get, use and interpret data effectively. 

Getting the Data

We all wish that getting clean data was as simple as an easy download. Yet we reach our customers through multiple touchpoints and multiple systems. As a result, our data has to be cleaned up to allow us to connect the dots. It’s imperative to get a “360-degree picture,” letting us understand the journey and the data through all the customer’s touchpoints.

To make things even more challenging, marketers are often further removed from purchase behavior and information than we should be. During surveys and focus groups, we may hear indications of purchase intention, but what people say they will do and what they will actually do is often quite different.

So, what’s a marketer to do?

It’s vital to work across departments to find the data. Then, research opportunities to enhance and append your data: campaigns, 3rd party data, primary and secondary research, purchase behavior, tradeshow attendance and customer surveys are a few options. Working with a professional data organization to purchase and append data could help.

Creating the Insights

Data and insights are not the same thing. Marketers must take the critical (and often brave) step to rid ourselves of spreadsheets and replace them with well-crafted dashboards. You may have the internal resources to make this happen or you may have to work with a company that can consolidate your data into a single view. Data science is a term we hear more frequently now – data scientists help clean up your data, set up a statistically significant model, and ultimately make sure you are reviewing the right data. 

Let your insights come to life by building customer personas. Personas help with your targeting – they shape your communications, allowing them to become more personal and to drive an emotional connection. Persona building is a deep-dive exercise, where you extrapolate from your dataset then humanize your potential customers.

Finding the Metrics

Relevant metrics change throughout the customers stage in the sales funnel. Understanding the distinctions can help measure our effectiveness.

  • At awareness: does a potential customer remember your advertisement?
  • During consideration: did they download a whitepaper?
  • At converting from a lead to a sale: how long did it take?

Explaining the different metrics to the team that reviews your dashboards can be as important as the data itself so that you can gain buy-in from the decision-makers.

Avoiding the Pitfalls 

Angela talked through some of the common pitfalls with using and interpreting data. 

Consolidation: Marketers are well aware that data can come from multiple sources. Bringing it together can take technical expertise and, in some cases, data scientists. Consolidation must be a team effort with open communication.

Attribution: A common pitfall is “last touch attribution,” or crediting the last customer touchpoint with the sale. This easy-yet-misleading metric doesn’t take into consideration everything that led up to the sale. The entire journey and how long it takes needs to be taken into consideration.

Skimping on Testing: Testing is often low or no cost but pays its rewards in useful data. Results often come back stunningly counter-intuitive. Angela posed the question: “Would you have a focus group of 1? That’s basically what you are doing when you do not test.”

As marketers, we can find ourselves data rich, insight poor. Allow yourself to explore upfront planning, speak with experts, and ask yourself the hard questions about your customer journey.