It’s 2017, you’ve got data.
But the question is, what do you do with it? Most marketers are tracking things like engagement, open rates and click-through rates, and other metrics that help them figure out what parts of their campaigns are landing and what parts are struggling to take off. So what else is there?
The answer to that depends on what else you want to know. How about, “what’s average open rate for a product-focused campaign?” or “does our target audience prefer newsletters or personalized email campaigns?” The thing about data is that it’s the gift that keeps on giving. You’ll always have more – metrics, contacts, buying cycles, campaigns – ad infinitum. So as marketers, making smarter marketing decisions starts with asking the right questions. Here are three to get you started:
Question 1: Are we looking for trends?
When it comes to data, it’s often easier to look at figures that are consistently unusual as opposed to looking at figures that show a consistent increase, or continually vary very little, but looking for trends in your data can give you a deeper understanding of your marketing efforts than just looking at outlier figures. Say you always get a higher engagement rate when you feature a photo of the speaker in your webinar presentation. Whichever metric you use to track the engagement on your webinar is one thing, but what if adding an image of the speaker to the landing pages might also drive registrations? What if you could feature that webinar and that image on the homepage of your website to drive traffic to it? Seemingly simple trends can lead to a whole lot more. It’s easier and more accurate to look for trends over a longer period of time, say, month-to-month. You can compare metrics like open rates and click-through rates on CTAs to get an idea of performance, and try changing small things: including an image, versus not including an image, or making the main CTA bold to test your theories.
Question 2: Do we really know our buyer?
As you market to your target audience, you’ll gather a metric-ton of data about who they are and what they do, as well as what they’re looking for in a product, solution or service. This demographics data about groups of customers – for example, CEOs of companies with 500 or more employees, or construction equipment suppliers in the north-east – is already a marketer’s bread and butter, but there’s more that you can learn from studying it. Industries often set patterns and precedents in terms of what businesses operating in their space will need to do or learn in order to grow. From rules and regulations to more generalized industry knowledge, it pays to learn a little about what your prospect’s most important goals are for the development of their business within their industry, and it’s the kind of data that you can get from sources besides your sales funnel. From industry studies and guides to reports and factsheets, this type of data will give you insight into not just where your buyers are, but where they’re looking to be as well.
Question 3: Are we using the right tools?
Taking intelligent action on your data starts with technology. Unless you sell into a very niche market, you more than likely have thousands of accounts and data points that you’ll need to analyze for each campaign to scale the level of customization that today’s savvy, educated buyers demand. Enter technology. The most obvious first step is an analytics software that can help you track and organize your data. But you can also move beyond that. Technology is only getting smarter, and as a B2B marketer, that means you are too. The tools you choose to manage your data will soon be able to not only show you numbers and stats, but also offer suggestions based on what you’ve done previously, and what works for that particular type of buyer. When you add intelligence to your tools you make tracking and understanding data on an enormous scale manageable and practical, and that leads to success.
The goal of analyzing data is to take the guesswork out of the task of getting to know what your buyers want, what they’re looking for, and what they’re goals are. From there, you can create customized, personalized buyer journeys based on facts. The questions to ask will change based on the tools you have available, and what your goals are as a marketer, but the data will always hold the key to guiding your buyers through the buying cycle and into the sales funnel.