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5 Ways You Should Be Using Data (But Probably Aren’t)

David Bosley

Today’s businesses are data-rich, but it’s seldom that the organizations are fully utilizing the available tidbits of information to improve business results and create a better experience for your customers. Data is both awesomely powerful and potentially dangerous, and it’s up to marketers and advertisers to make the best use of the information that they have at their disposal. Maintaining a high level of security is crucial for your business, and that means understanding where data is stored and how it is being accessed at all times. One way to improve the usage of data within your business is to consolidate your various data repositories. As your business grows organically, it’s not unusual to have a variety of different storage locations, such as a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) solution, your website content management system, email platforms, and marketing automation systems.

Each of these business systems is used for different reasons, but they are all capturing important information about your prospects and customers. Even how the individuals interact with your brand on social media can be captured and optimized, if you’re fully optimizing your data capturing solutions. Data is still a challenge for businesses of all sizes, so don’t get discouraged if you’re still in the beginning stages of wrangling your data! Whether you’re a newbie to the wide world of data or are a hardened data optimization professional, here are 5 ways that you could be leveraging that important information to improve your revenue and provide a more seamless experience for customers.

Data Science and Business Technology

1. Optimizing Local Search

Local SEO is a relatively new offering for businesses and requires several bits of data to fully optimize your website. In this case, your internal teams are creating data that will be used in local searching. When you’re researching keywords for your website, you want to start with casting a wide net and then narrow down your offerings. There is a range of local search tools that help you target a few high-performing keywords before you begin your on-site optimization for this information. Your SEO title tag is one of the most important pieces of information on your site, followed by the meta description and other related snippets. When you locally optimize your site, you’re providing searchers with what you feel is the most important information related to that particular keyword to promote a specific page on your site. Including your local address and phone number also encourages Google to decide that your site is relevant for local searchers, and a map or directions helps as well.

2. Predicting Next-Best Actions for Customers

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning are two concepts that you will hear a great deal about in marketing these days. These two topics go far beyond being the latest buzzwords, however — they are integral to the way we interact with prospects and customers based on the information that individuals have shared or actions that they have taken. With machine learning, you are able to determine which action might encourage a prospect to become a customer simply by analyzing the actions that other customers have taken in the past. This is called finding the “next-best” action, and it is a strategy utilized by major corporations. The data analysis tools that are available on the market today provide much simpler ways to determine which action is likely to create the desired outcome, but it requires having a firm understanding of your available data, any integrations and a knowledge of customer behavior before you can take full advantage of predicting potential future actions. You can also leverage this information to determine the day that current customers are most likely to make a purchase, providing you with valuable foresight into future sales trends so you can determine when to offer a sale to incentivize current customers to make a purchase more often or spend more money with your business.

3. Mapping Customer Journeys

Customer journeys can be winding and complex, with Google recently releasing some data showing that the number of touchpoints used both online and offline seems to be growing. While nearly every interaction with customers began with a search, some customers begin attempting to solve a generic problem while others are researching the best price for a known solution. Understanding where customers are on their path to making a product selection allows you to deliver the most relevant and actionable advertising at each stage of their voyage of discovery that leads to a product purchase. When you capture this information such as the specific pages that users have visited on your website, whether they arrived via a specific landing page or from a social media activity, you can deliver the information to them that will help answer their next question so they gain comfort with your brand and are more willing to make an initial purchase or upgrade. Pulling this information together and charting a course for customers can be a challenge, but starting with a simple journey and adding complexity as you validate your hypothesis helps you stay on the right path for success.

4. Customizing Marketing Messages

Are your marketing messages a bit generic, or are you sending the same email message to everyone in your database? If so, shame on you! The people on your email list are unique individuals and deserve the personalized attention that only you can provide. That doesn’t mean you fire up your email client and begin writing hundreds of detailed emails based on your knowledge of particular customers. Instead, you look at the data such as what type of emails are more likely to have been opened in the past, and what topics or areas of interest linked individuals to take an action based on those email messages. For instance, you may identify that female customers are more likely to react to a message that includes children while males will click more often when they see cars. Looking for these details in the data and then aggregating the responses of customers allows you to create small pockets of custom marketing messages that are more likely to push consumers to take an action based on the information that you share.

A great example would be to offer different messaging for people who have already made a purchase versus those that are prospects. Customers probably already know (and love!) all of the details about your product, and don’t need to receive that information again. Prospects might want more details about how your product or service works or to hear testimonials from current customers. That same information wouldn’t be relevant for someone who has been purchasing your products for many years and is just looking for a discount or product line extension. Understanding where customers are in their sales lifecycle helps you create marketing messages that resonate with your various audiences.

5. Personalized Digital Advertising

You might have been surprised to see ads recently that follow you across the web. Even though you searched for a particular toaster on Google, you see the same toaster that you showed interest in showing up on social media with a discount attached to the ad. This personalized digital advertising is also known as remarketing, and it is an ideal way to encourage customers to make a sale. Each time you take an action online, this information is stored as “cookies” on your computer or device. These details are then used to drive business logic in advertising that is delivered. Marketers can take advantage of this information by setting up rules that state “Individuals who looked at XX product should then receive an ad for a 10% discount if they don’t make a purchase”. This type of detailed information leverages the data that you have available — whether or not the marketer is directly interfacing with this metadata. Setting up business rules does take time and requires an understanding of how digital advertising can work.

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to define rules that are not going to deliver the bottom line results that you need. Measuring the results of your various forays into the world of data is often relegated to the science of business analytics or data science, where highly logical individuals are constantly on the lookout for trends in your business data that can be leveraged and capitalized. The sheer volume of data that is being generated by individuals on a daily basis provides us with a vast universe of information to scour. It’s crucial to look for trends or you can spend all of your time poking through unrelated information instead of making the data truly actionable.