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Marketers: Keep Calm and Follow the Data in the Pandemic

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As of this writing, no one knows for sure how bad the economic fallout of the pandemic will be. The news isn’t encouraging. These aren’t your grandfather’s jobless numbers. Oh wait, they are — if your grandfather was alive during the Great Depression. The economy has taken a hit, and people are scared.

Even Google is thinking about cutting marketing budgets in half and implementing hiring freezes, according to CNBC. With so much economic uncertainty, panic is understandable, but it’s still counterproductive. The right way to react is to keep calm and follow the data.

It doesn’t make sense to slash marketing budgets across the board

It makes sense to adjust marketing spend in this unprecedented time. Maybe your company had money budgeted for several industry tradeshows this year, and that’s not going to happen. But marketing is still important because it directly affects customer loyalty and sales, which you need now more than ever.

Instead of tradeshows, maybe shift your investment to outreach digital channels, webinars, etc., which typically cost a lot less and can be incredibly effective when you figure out which messages work best at a time like this. Data from A/B testing can tell you what resonates right now.

This is also a good time to refine your ideal customer profile. Not all segments of the economy have been hit with equal ferocity. Analyze the data to see which sectors are thriving, who’s still buying, etc., and adjust your targets guided by data, not guesswork.

Marketers can use data as a shield to keep the budget ax at bay

Instead of panicking about possible budget cuts, marketers can keep the budget ax from landing with data that proves their contribution to the revenue value chain. It’s a bit trickier in digital marketing because martech point solutions provide data on activities — page views, open rates, etc.

Those numbers are nice to have, but what you really need at a time like this are metrics that directly link campaigns to revenue. With the right tools, you can establish that connection, attributing revenue to campaigns inside the CRM system so everyone is making decisions using a single source of data truth.

It’s also important to monitor key performance indicators so you can figure out what’s working and what’s not. Keep an eye on how leads that are generated by digital campaign progress at every stage of the funnel, e.g., from marketing-qualified leads to sales-accepted leads and eventually to revenue.

Use data to create a virtuous circle

Complete transparency with data is the objective. Too many marketers are afraid of it, but if you believe in the value you create (and you do!), embrace data so you can prove your worth. Compare digital campaign performance across time, and use the data to pick winners and make adjustments.

Keep in mind that business conditions can change quickly — haven’t we all just seen that? — and adapt accordingly.

Ideally, total marketing outreach composition should be 80% campaign types/channels that are proven performers and 20% experimental outreach to keep things fresh and innovative.

Data can tell you when to fish or cut bait. When you measure everything marketing does in terms of the leads and revenue and results it creates, it becomes obvious what you should do more of, what requires adjustment and what you should stop doing altogether. That’s the beauty of data.

So, instead of slashing marketing budgets, look at the numbers and invest in outreach that generates the most revenue. Instead of panicking about reduced spending, retool messages and channels, test everything and figure out what works in this new reality. In short: keep calm and follow the data.

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