We are producing more data than ever before. Every credit card transaction we make, each GPS pinpoint taken by your smartphone, and every click of the mouse we make online contributes to an increasingly large and varied dataset.
Analytics is the software used to turn this data deluge into valuable insights – insights that are being put to use by a broad spectrum of industries all over the world. Over the last decade or so, marketing has been revolutionized by data analytics, allowing brands to deliver more targeted messaging and measure their return on investment (ROI).
Personalize your customer interactions
Businesses now have access to more information regarding their customers than ever before. As well as surface-level data about their gender, age, and geographical location, companies can now derive more detailed insights regarding consumer behavior and preferences. It’s becoming increasingly clear that not only are customers open to sharing their data with businesses in order to receive personalized marketing, they are encouraging it. A recent report by Salesforce, for example, found that 52 percent of customers are extremely or somewhat likely to switch brands if a company doesn’t make an effort to personalize their communications with them.
Today, brands are personalizing their marketing efforts in a whole number of ways, gaining fantastic ROI in the process. The likes of EasyJet, Marie Curie, and O2 have all used data from previous customer interactions or geographical profiling to deliver targeted messaging to their customers. When this kind of marketing is done well, customers feel like they are valued as a unique human being, not just another number on a spreadsheet.
Which channels are working and which aren’t?
Greater visibility is one of the main benefits of data-driven marketing. Before the rise of digital marketing and all its associated data, it was difficult for marketing teams to determine which of their efforts, if any, contributed significantly towards a purchase. Did that promotional campaign cause an uplift in sales, or was it just a coincidence?
By using data, marketers can now track customers along the journey from initial interest to final purchase. With insights driven by website cookies and click-through rate (CTR), marketers have a much clearer picture of what’s working and what isn’t, allowing them to prioritize expenditure in the right channels.
Gaining cross-channel visibility in an increasingly complex world
Interacting with brands is no longer confined to simply walking into a shop and viewing a product. Email communications, website visits and social media engagements all combine to create a complex picture. Keeping track of all these interactions can be a challenge – particularly when the average online user now has eight social media accounts – and using data analytics is often the only way to turn the broad spectrum of touchpoints into a cohesive customer profile. If brands can achieve this, then customers receive a high-quality, uniform experience, regardless of the channel they used to reach the business.
Full-funnel marketing in the digital age
The full-funnel approach to marketing is a well-worn strategy, but it does need some tweaking in the digital age. Consumers no longer make a linear journey from finding out about your product to purchasing it. Instead, consumers often conduct most of their research independently, using a variety of sources from corporate websites to social networks. The latter, in particular, is a hugely important part of the modern marketing funnel, with 43 percent of online users aged between 16 and 24 using social media for product research. Marketers must target and nurture their prospective customers across these new digital mediums if they are to truly adopt a full-funnel approach to marketing.
Data scientists can be just as useful as the data itself
Data alone is simply a collection of numbers. It is only through analyzing this data and turning it into insights that it becomes useful to companies. While software packages like analytics programs are certainly helpful when it comes to analyzing data, it is essential that brands do not underestimate the importance of highly skilled data scientists. It is true that technology can help process vast quantities of numbers in a fraction of a second, but real people are needed to develop marketing strategies and objectives that make use of this data.
Understanding your customers as people
No matter how often you directly interact with your customers there is only so much data you can collect. To understand them as the multi-faceted individuals that they are, many brands are choosing to augment their own first-party data with third-party data. Of course, this creates its own problems – namely, which third-party data, out of the masses available, is relevant and trustworthy?
The fact that 30 per cent of online users use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) makes reliable data even harder to come by, but it is not impossible. With cross-device ID tracking, brands can access trustworthy third-party data that gives them a truer representation of their customers.
The future is now
One of the most exciting developments in marketing is the use of predictive analytics to forecast consumer behavior before it takes place. By using audience profiling data to predict what customers want, marketers can be much more proactive, upselling products, creating long-term relationships with consumers and determining market shifts before rival brands.
Unfortunately, many marketing departments have been slow to adopt new technologies like predictive analytics, despite the benefits that they offer. It is, however, surely only a matter of time before this changes, with research findings indicating that 89 percent of brands plan to invest in predictive analytics at some point in the future. With market trends shifting so quickly, predicting new developments ahead of time is an essential part of modern marketing.