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Data-Driven Digital Marketing: What Does it Really Mean?

David Bosley

By now, we should all know that being data-driven in our marketing and business operations is one of the key indicators for success. There are plenty of statistics that show how important being data-driven is. For example, companies that are data-driven are six times more likely to maintain a competitive advantage and drive profitability than companies who are. The problem is, it’s sometimes difficult to know exactly what being data-driven means. How do we get there?

In its essence, data-driven digital marketing is right there in the name. You’re collecting data on your customers, their tendencies, and your business operations. You’ll then analyze and leverage this data to inform your marketing and business decisions. Of course, it isn’t always quite that simple. Here are four things you need to keep in mind when trying to be a data-driven organization:

1. Strike the Right Balance

We cannot rely on data to make 100% of our decisions just yet. That means that you need a strong human element in place and will use data to complement it. Your marketing team must be trained to use data the right way and make the correct decisions based on their analysis. Marketing will always require a dash of creativity to go along with analytics. To be truly data-driven, your people will make decisions based on the data they have, and your data will prove or disprove their campaigns.

2. Bad Data is Useless

The entire premise of being a data-driven digital marketing team relies on the fact that you have valuable data to begin with. If you’re mining incomplete or unreliable data, any decision you make based on it will be faulty. If you’re brand-new to big data, start small. Use data that you know is reliable, valuable, and easily reconciled. As you get more comfortable with mining and analyzing data, start looking for new and creative ways to leverage what you already have.

3. Sharing is Caring

Complete data will yield the best results by far. If your departments are using different systems and keep different data, you’ll have an incomplete and thus less valuable view of your customers. Sales, marketing, and operations should work together to share data and build models that work together instead of separately. You might be able to learn, for example, something from an acquisition campaign that the retention team can use to improve their re-engagement efforts. In the end, everyone benefits.

4. Keep it Simple

Once you start basing all of your strategies on the right data, you need to make the process effective for your team. Let them assist in the creation of dashboards and reports that give them the data they need to perform their daily duties. Whenever possible, provide it in a visual form. Data is easier to understand and act on quickly when it’s provided in a visual format.