Digital marketing: power of data-driven decisions

What's the big deal about big data? Simple—it's the fuel that powers successful digital marketing.

You don't want to make misguided decisions based purely on intuition or gut feeling. You'll end up doing lots of trial and error, costing you time and money in the process. That's bad for your ROI!

The more data-driven your business is, the higher your ROI and performance. According to a McKinsey analysis, firms that put data at the core of their marketing and sales decisions achieve 15% to 20% higher ROI.

Likewise, a study on the impact of data-driven decisions on business performance found that data-driven companies increase productivity by 5% to 6%.

Big data's impact on digital marketing landscape

What role will big data play in the digital transformation of businesses in 2018? It will surely make a huge impact, said 14% of 850 marketers polled by Smart Insights. In this online survey, big data ranks second most significant marketing trend in 2018.

Apart from taking one of the top spots, big data is interestingly positioned between content marketing and artificial intelligence. Can you see the interrelationships there? I'll explore them in this article.

Seeing the value of big data is one thing, acting on it is another. It isn't as simple as targeting customers based only on demographics. That's just scratching the surface. Knowing that most of your potential customers are American males aged 30 to 40 is way different from understanding what they're doing online—including the links they click on, the videos they watch, the content they share, and the emails they open.

4 ideas to adopt data-driven decision-making on digital marketing

Bring value to your business and clients by using big data to drive your marketing decisions. Get started with these four actionable ideas.

1. Build a data-driven company culture

You're so hyped up at big data's potential that you want to implement it right now in your digital marketing campaigns.

But wait—do your team members really want to support your initiative?

This isn't a mission for you to tackle alone. All hands on deck, so to speak. To make that happen, data-driven decision-making must be deeply ingrained in your company’s DNA.

Get all stakeholders in your company to buy in first. It's easier for them to embrace data as a way of life if they understand not just the hows but also the whys of using it.

Moreover, customer data has to be shared between business units for better collaboration. How can Marketing, for instance, see a complete picture of the buyer's journey (which they need to improve customer experience) if they can't access data from Sales? How can your sales representatives increase conversion rates without a deep understanding of the leads passed on by Marketing?

Ultimately, how can these teams create data-based strategies aligned with business goals without the data and insights they need to make smarter decisions?

So, how do business leaders adopt a company-wide strategic approach to data?

First, invest in big data analytics platforms. These tools speed up the flow of information between departments, facilitating an informed decision-making process.

Second, break down the so-called data silos between your IT, Marketing, and Sales teams. Take your inspiration from how Dell bridged the gap between its Marketing and IT units to build a data-driven culture. The computer tech giant's IT set up a three-tiered data infrastructure to share its data collection and analytics capabilities with Marketing, empowering the latter to perform data analysis efficiently.

Develop better lead management strategies

process flow chart

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Data analytics can help you decide strategically on your lead management implementation. Which marketing strategies bring in high-quality leads? Which prospects are worth reaching out to? What channels are most suitable for prospect outreach?

Simply put, insights from big data allow you to focus your time and energy on leads with the highest probability to convert. Dig deep into your leads' data to see behavioral patterns that will guide you through your decision-making.

A smart way to take your lead qualification efforts a notch higher is to apply AI's predictive analytics capabilities to data. In an MIT Sloan Management Review survey, 76% business executives said they're targeting higher sales growth with machine learning.

Did you know how Harley-Davidson's New York dealership grew its qualified leads by a whopping 2,930% in three months? It used an AI-powered platform to measure and optimize its digital marketing campaigns based on real-time customer behaviors across digital channels. This allowed the company to identify which campaigns were working and which weren't.

The AI marketing tool used online behavior data to predict which types of content would most likely convert. For example, it found out that ads with the "Call now!" CTA performed 447% better than those with "Buy now!" CTA. The tool instantly replaced the word "buy" with "call" in all ads across all channels. In just one week, the dealership sold 15 motorcycles—a far cry from its weekly sales average of one or two units.

3. Create personalized content experience

Cleverly-written content hooks your audience. But if it isn’t relatable and relevant, even the wittiest copies won't drive people to do what you want them to do, like clicking on your display ad or signing up for your newsletter.

Personalization makes all the difference in content marketing today. Big data empowers marketers to craft compelling, personalized messages. Tools like Google Analytics and Buzzsumo allow you to analyze how your content performs, giving insights on which topics and content types are likely to convert readers into buyers.

Major brands like Kohl's are leveraging behavioral data to boost personalization in their content marketing and customer engagement campaigns.

Kohl's uses an in-store mobile technology that tracks customers' purchase history and behaviors while shopping in the department store. As shoppers walk into the store, they may opt in for promotions using their smartphones. People who spend time in the sports and fitness department may receive relevant content about their favorite NBA or NFL teams and a coupon based on the products they’re looking for.

This data-driven content marketing strategy can bring value to consumers and raise the chance of a sale (who doesn’t love instant discounts?). And even if it doesn't lead to a sale, it helps keep the brand as the shoppers’ top-of-mind choice.

4. Win customer loyalty

deal handshake

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As marketers, we wish gaining customer loyalty were as simple as telling them "Trust us!" But a successful digital marketing strategy doesn’t work that way.

How do you get hard-to-please customers to love your brand?

How about saving lives? Sounds impossible? Not for Costco. Typically, retailers send out a mass message via SMS and social networks to warn customers about contaminated food products. The membership-based warehouse chain, however, informed only the specific customers who bought listeria-contaminated fruits via a phone call and follow-up email.

Thanks to data collected from its customers' purchases, Costco was able to identify all those who bought the recalled fruits and warn them right away.

Posting on Facebook, customers appreciated the gesture and got the message that the company wasn’t at fault, and it had only their best interest at heart.

See how powerful data is in winning customers’ hearts?

Final thoughts

Big data is a big deal to marketers today—no doubt about that. How you use data can drive your business decisions to improve your conversions and ROI. It starts with building a data-driven culture in your business and then gradually incorporating big data and analytics into your digital marketing campaigns.

Is your business ready to implement a data-driven strategy? If so, how do you plan to start? If not, what's holding you back? I'd like to know your thoughts!

About Anna Rodriguez

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