A strategic roadmap is vital for data-driven success

Marketers are starting to drown in data, from a range of customer databases and touch points.

September 27, 2012

By Richard Mullins, director at Acceleration

Marketers are starting to drown in data, from a range of customer databases and touch points. Not only are they able to tap into their own marketing systems (including CRM, email, Web analytics, and more) for data but they can also leverage data from a range of third-party sources for insight into their customers.

The organisations that will excel in the years to come will be those that master the discipline of gathering accurate and relevant data from all these sources and using it to drive their customer acquisition and retention strategies.

This means that marketers need to focus on two key areas, namely the understanding of the data available and then the development of a clear roadmap to maximise the data in terms of initiatives that take into account the data needed to implement strategy and campaigns as well as the technology and tools they need to deliver against the strategies.

Putting a data-driven marketing strategy into place can be divided into three major streams:

Customer data

Everything starts with customers in the digital world. They leave plenty of data everywhere they go. Data that provides deep insights into who they are and their needs and desires. This data includes demographic, purchase, website usage, search behaviour and more from multiple touch points, from the likes of corporate websites, email databases, ad-servers, social and search marketing.  Multiple customer data sources can be combined into a complex understanding of different user segments and their behaviour.

Marketing strategy

Once marketers know what information they can potentially access about their customers, the next step is to clarify the goals of their marketing strategies and which data will be useful in attaining them. If I as a marketer want to sell LCD TVs to customers, what data do I need to identify someone who is in the market for a new television?

Understanding the customer journey

The most important part of the puzzle is to understanding the customer’s journey to conversion and the ways that this can be influenced through content and marketing strategies. For example, if users are searching for LCD TVs online and comparing prices, what ad or landing page content might influence them to buy the product?

Organisations that are able to master all three of these streams will be able to achieve a deeper understanding of their customers and how they can be influenced. At the most sophisticated levels, marketers will be able to do predictive modelling based on a deeper understanding of their customers.

For example, a marketer might know that the business wants to increase revenues by R10 million over the next six months. That will involve 5,000 customers spending R2000 each. The marketer will be equipped to put together data-driven campaigns that will help the business achieve its sales targets in order to achieve its financial target. These campaigns are usually extremely focused on customer segments that are most likely to convert and designed – based on an understanding of customers – to lead users through the conversion funnel.

Of course, most marketers have a lot of groundwork to do before they can use data in this manner. They need to put in place data collection strategies and infrastructure, customer segmentation strategies, the ability to integrate the data from multiple sources and the tools needed to automate processes. This involves a lot of detailed strategy, commitment and investment, but the benefits are well worth it. And for clients that embrace the opportunity, they have the opportunity to own the space.