This post is part of 123ContactForm’s A Step Forward series, where we look at data management and its role in making better business decisions.
Marketing and advertising and in general the entire communications industry is ever changing. Because of this, professionals find themselves having to adapt again and again to consumer behaviour. At the beginning, these two industries were one way communication streets, but with the development of technology this has changed. Feedback allowed professionals to gain valuable insight into the lives of consumers and to take advantage of this in order to become better salesmen. Data mining was the game to be played.
As time has passed, technology evolved and we have more and more advanced tools and means of collecting data. From simple names, emails or addresses, we can gather more complex details such as shopping habits, search patterns and even face recognition software and hardware. Over the past few years it’s been all about finding out what’s making consumers tick, collecting as much data as possible about them in order to create highly targetable and personalised marketing messages.
With the recession, marketing departments are more often than not forced into making decision based solely on data to avoid unneeded spendings. Phrases such as Return on Investment (ROI) or Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) are on everyone’s tongues and lists of KPIs. This has made marketing professionals run around after consumer data, having the belief that once they’ve accumulated enough, they’ll know exactly the WHYs, HOWs, WHENs and WHEREs of selling somebody a product or a service. When in truth all this has really accomplished is gain little analysable data at the cost of being called intrusive.
That being said, a slight repositioning on the same direction is necessary because data alone is no longer enough. The industry needs to shift from making data driven decisions to smart data marketing. This shift needs to be made because massive volumes of data come with a set of difficulties. Besides being too large to analyze and interpret with traditional statistical analysis, it is painstakingly hard to pinpoint exact actionable information. In other words, after hours of data analysis, you’ll be left in a sea of percentages and with no clear way in which to steer your boat in order to make them better. And smart data marketing is the answer because it offers a stronger signal for your boat to follow, savvy?
Smart data marketing is nothing more but a metamorphosis of big data into something more actionable. Furthermore, smart data marketing tops Google’s top marketing predictions for 2015, announcing it’s official arrival in the professional practice limelight. To be perfectly understood, data will still remain a priority, it’s just that “big” has turned to “smart” data. And the overwhelming amount of data gathered turns into a clearer set of data with a stronger signal, making it more easily interpretable and actionable. Therefore, marketers need to take their focus off “collect all the customer data we can” and towards “what data will help our customers experience our brand”. And in the latest marketing trends one words has stood out more than any other, “experience”.
Let’s look at an example. You could have a survey on a website, asking visitors a set of focused questions. Questions that are designed to reveal more need-based information, like visitor intent. The survey will reveal a clearer set of data, they will be user-led and easy to leverage, offering a more straightforward approach to data interpretation. This, in turn, gives marketers a clearer picture of what needs to be done next.
Collecting this type of data provides a stronger signal because it is the visitor who inputs the answers, and data is not submitted to interpretations that have a possibility to be wildly inaccurate. This is just one example and it is only applicable to a narrow set of situations, but the exploitation potential for qualitative data is immense. What needs to be applied in order to transform big data into smart data is context.
Considering the context when collecting data could hugely benefit not only your company as a whole, but customer experience. And we all know the benefits yielded by great customer experience. When using smart data marketing, take context into account, take data collection issues into account and follow the best practices for data analysis, data interpretation and statistics.
Gathering data is one half of the business, but it is the first half. So you have to start somewhere, build a form, publish it on your website, publish it on Facebook (we hear these ones are great) and be well on your way to successfully using smart data marketing, it’s the new thing!