Use powerful tools and keep consumers’ concerns in mind
Data can be used in all stages of marketing. That’s because no matter how good marketers are, they cannot perform miracles. They need to measure and test.
No one knows that better than Diana Richardson. Nearing 20 years as a digital marketer, she is the social media and community manager for the Agency Unit at Semrushan online visibility management software as a service platform.
Tapping into her experience as an educator in the industry, Richardson talked during an Africa Tweet Chat about the power of data in marketing.
From the start, marketers must know how to collect data online.
“Work smarter, not harder,” Richardson said. “Find a tool or resource where you can sync all your data so you don’t have to keep spreadsheets or have a thousand tabs open. Of course, I mean you should try Semrush.
“Be consistent,” she said. “Sometimes I don’t think people realize how important consistency actually is.”
Naturally, Richardson believes date is important in marketing.
“Data informs every part of marketing — or at least it should,” she said. “Even when the goal is something like, ‘We should rank on the first page of Google for X keyword,’ data still plays a role in how you approach that.
“From audience persona information to competitor details to your own marketing success, data plays a role,” Richardson said.
In a critical area, data makes messages clear.
“Data is a way to communicate,” Richardson said. “People understand graphs and charts. Data is quite significant even when it comes to answering questions like, ‘What have you been doing to my site?’
“Data even comes into play when you’re pitching the C-Suite a new tool you want to use,” Richardson said. “My question is, why would data not be important? I hope you’re using it all day, every day. Data is powerful and versatile.”
With such information as a backup, it’s no surprise that data-driven marketing is usually a success.
“Lots of marketing is successful, but data lays an actual foundation instead of a hunch or experience,” Richardson said. “Data collection real people’s interactions, engagements, annoyances and so on. It’s a way to listen to your audience and make improvements in your marketing.”
Her formula is data = marketing intelligence = engaged audience = trust.
“I’ve always liked digital marketing,” Richardson said. “That’s why I wish I had taken consumer psychology in college. The numbers literally speak to me like people telling me about themselves.”
Data-driven marketing is effective because it enables you to understand customers’ journeys, know what works and eliminates guesses.
“It’s so important to base the journey on data and not what you think it should be,” Richardson said.
Using data might sound new, but Richardson does not see it as revolutionary.
“We’ve always had some sort of data to include,” she said. “Thinking back on the ‘Mad Men’ Don Draper days, they did surveys and studies to understand the consumption of their marketing pieces.
“Does anyone remember the Nielsen surveys or the boxes they would send you to monitor your TV or radio habits?” Richardson asked. “We’ve always found ways to collect data.”
However, new technology makes a big difference.
“What’s changing is how much and what data we have access to,” Richardson said. “Sometimes it’s a Catch 22 because we can’t track everything. We still struggle with conversions that started online but happen in the store.”
Marketers need to adapt and learn what data to use and what is of no use to them.
“That is crucial,” Richardson said. “Just because we have all the data doesn’t mean it’s useful. Plus, the same metrics from three, four or six years ago may not be applicable any more. Sometimes the data’s definition changes. There are some shifts coming with the Google Analytics 4 release.”
An abundance of data can be overwhelming, but proper use of tools can help with understanding.
“It comes from experience and knowing what you’re trying to show,” Richardson said. “Different data will back up different successes, failures and tests.”
Social media has been running on algorithms, leading to tugs between different types of numbers.
“In the world of personalization we live in, we will always have algorithms,” Richardson said. “They will always change. They may not always affect your particular campaign, niche or audience.
“Your data, however, will tell you if things are shifting — whether an algorithm is the reason or not,” she said. “Gauging success or even your averages and baselines could shift due to other factors. Strategize and optimize based on your own actual data.”
Data is not only making information count. The goal is to use data to successfully create a marketing strategy.
Richardson suggests using data in these areas:
- Audience personas
- Baseline and industry averages
- Expectation setting
- Answer the question “why” because that comes up a lot
- Make “It depends” stronger with numbers to back it up
With that in hand, she would apply data for these tasks:
- Map out seasonal trends.
- “Listen” to the audience’s interest and engagement in content.
- Learn data-backed insights about competitors.
- Visualize non-data-traditional areas of success such as how many site errors have been fixed.
Brands practically fall over themselves in pursuit of personal data. This could be a breach of personal privacy or a great marketing strategy.
“This is a very tough issue,” Richardson said. “Personalized data does help marketers tailor campaigns toward a specific audience and understand when the marketing is messy or amazing.
“Goal it’s our personal information plain and simple,” she said. “There should be a threshold of what’s sacred and what can be used to our — the customer’s — advantage. I speak from both sides here as a marketer and a consumer.”
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