The internet is an ever-changing landscape, with new technologies and content formats emerging every day. The speed of change can be overwhelming, but it also presents a unique opportunity for marketers to connect with customers in ways that were not possible before. Today, brands and marketing teams need to strive to build a memorable customer experience, and the first step is creating relevant content. This post will explore how data-driven marketing can help you better understand your customer and inform your content programs.
Understanding your target audience is essential to any successful content marketing campaign or digital marketing strategy. Guessing who your customers are won’t cut it, and hopefully will never be a viable marketing strategy. Customer data will always be the fuel that powers the performance of your ads and campaigns, helping you make smarter marketing decisions.
With data-driven marketing, marketers take a scientific approach to defining buyer personas. This means searching for patterns in customer data available from social shares, search engines, and customer demographics. Once you have all the data sources in one place, you can conclude the customer journey.
Customer data is an incredibly powerful tool for informing content strategy. It gives you an idea of what your customers care about, what they are searching for on Google, what they are saying on social channels, and which channels they are spending most of the time. If you know the trends that matter most to your target audience, you can create content around those areas, making it more likely to have a business impact.
Data-driven marketing is not an approach that marketers should use by themselves. It is only valid when combined with the traditional focus group approach. The primary purpose of data-driven marketing is to save time by validating what you’re already doing and finding white space in the market.
What is Data-Driven Marketing?
Data-driven marketing is the practice of extracting actionable insights from useful data sources and then using these insights to inform a digital marketing program. Let’s break that down to understand the term:
Extracting insights from data: Understanding what actionable information is and how it can improve your marketing and advertising strategy. This can include basic demographics, the customer journey on our website, or the conversations happening on social. The key is to ensure that your marketing efforts are based on data and customer insights.
Digital marketing: These are all the programs in marketing and can include marketing tactics like demand generation marketing, email marketing, sales enablement, public relations, customer engagement, ABM, paid search, display advertising, content, and creative approach, and B2B social media programs.
The Altimeter Report asked a particular question about data-driven marketing, “What sources of marketing data do you use to create content?” The answers were all over the place. But the good news is that marketers use data to inform campaigns, messaging, advertising, and other digital marketing efforts.
- 63% of the respondents use website analytics to inform content
- 59% of the respondents are using social media metrics to inform content
- 58% of the respondents use customer surveys and primary research to inform content
- 49% of the respondents use social customer service or call center records to inform content
- 48% of the respondents use CRM systems to inform content
- 23% of respondents use data from third-party providers to inform content
The information in this report is interesting on so many levels when it comes to data-driven marketing. The fact that marketers are using data is a good sign of what’s to come in the future, especially when marketers can align marketing messages with customers’ unmet needs. I am curious though, how many marketers are learning how to measure content marketing performance using this same type of customer data. Time will tell.
Using Web Analytics to Inform Data-Driven Marketing
Using Google Analytics or other website analytics platforms like Adobe Experience Cloud is an excellent source of data for content marketing and building a content strategy for your brand. Google Analytics provides extremely valuable consumer insights related to user behavior, engagement on specific web properties, page views, abandon rates, and monthly website visitors.
The website data also provides marketers with key insights into the top-performing content that web visitors prefer based on time spent on site. Advanced marketing teams are creating personalized experiences based on the landing pages that consumers are landing on after clicking on advertising and paid search ads. Additionally, they provide interest-based insights based on users’ search behavior and the websites they have spent time on prior to being on yours. The amount of data that marketers can use to engage with existing users and acquire new customers is mind-blowing. These types of data insights allow marketers to create data-driven content programs.
Making Big Data Small Using Social Media Analytics
Pulling customer data from existing social media platforms is table stakes for companies across all sectors. Marketers must learn how to leverage these tools for social media data collection, data management, and more importantly, to inform their data-driven marketing strategies.
The challenge with pulling this type of data is too much of it. Big data as a concept is overwhelming. Marketers are so busy that they don’t have time to manage large analytics programs and extract customer data.
The good news is that most publishing platforms like Sprinklr, Sprout Social, or Khoros, can cluster and isolate data in a very consumable way. Using social analytics to understand your customers and audiences is not as hard as you might think.
Data-driven marketing has never been this easy. By publishing content and tracking the post copy, creative, and audiences if you’re using paid, you can start to piece together what type of content, narrative, and story angles genuinely resonate with your target audience.
Using Primary Research to Inform a Marketing Campaign
One of the benefits of using primary research is that you can ask very focused questions to consumers about their interests, behaviors, values, where they shop, their favorite brand, and so on.
You can do the same for a business audience as well. For example, you can survey a panel of software developers to better understand what software languages they are using when developing apps or code or which platforms they prefer to build code on. You can also ask more personal questions like which streaming apps they use to listen to music. Based on the data, you can create a digital content strategy with targeted marketing messages tailored to the interests, preferences, and characteristics of this audience. You can also combine primary research with social analytics and website analytics to validate those answers and provide additional insights for your data-driven marketing efforts.
Another example is surveying the same developer audience to see which types of content they prefer to consume when researching information. Do they prefer social media? Or, do they like to spend time in Reddit or Github forums or are they open to downloading white papers or e-books to access the information that they are looking for. This type of customer data is golden for marketing campaigns.
Can Customer Service Inform Data-Driven Marketing Strategies?
Years ago, I had to figure out how to hard reset my iPhone 4. So I went to Google and typed in “how to reset iPhone 4”. I found verbatim search results that linked me directly to Apple’s social community. I had the answer I was looking for within less than 30 seconds.
Imagine pulling up the transcripts from every customer who calls into customer support, asks a question in a community, or interacts with a chatbot on the website—and then using those transcripts to create long-form content with that exact language on the blog or a new thread in the customer support community.
This is an example that is much bigger than just data-driven marketing. This starts to hit on cost savings by decreasing calls to the call center and building visibility for your website in the search results. This is also a way to build brand advocacy with consumers. However, to make this happen, brands need to think about their content operations and building workflows to ensure that response times are handled efficiently.
Using Audience Data from 3rd Party Databases
It’s unclear in the Altimeter study what they mean by third-party databases.
I would hope they refer to audience analytics platforms like Audiense, Affinio, Helix, or other Brandwatch alternatives. Sadly according to the Altimeter Study, only 23% are using social data of this type to inform content. As much as I am disappointed in the report, I see it as an opportunity. If you work in marketing, PR, or other communications function, I would suggest spending time understanding audience analysis to know how to use this type of data to fuel your new marketing campaigns.
Using Data to Improve the Customer Experience
Whether you’re a B2B or B2C brand, your end goal is to provide a positive experience for customers. You can do that by ensuring your content aligns with consumer insights and provides business value.
Below are three reasons why data-driven marketing is so vital in the modern world, where technology makes it easy for marketers and advertisers to collect data:
Data-driven marketing can help you create relevant content for your audience. By knowing the customer’s interests, you will be able to tailor landing pages and ad copy that speaks directly to those needs. Ad formats like video or native ads can also better engage customers on social channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and Instagram.
Data helps you find the white space in the market by helping you understand what your customers want or need. You can also use analytics to create content that will become a leader in your industry for years to come because it is so effective at solving customer problems.
Content is only one aspect of your overall digital marketing strategy. Data-driven marketing will also help you improve your paid search, public relations, and customer engagement efforts because it helps you measure what is most effective from a return on investment perspective.
Speed to Insight Should Drive Data-Driven Marketing Campaigns
One of the advantages of data-driven marketing is that you can get insights quickly and act on them. That’s why it’s important to have a process in place so you can make decisions quickly and improve your campaigns in real-time.
For example, if you are using audience analytics data to determine which content is creating the most engagement, clicks, conversions or impressions, you can use that information to create more of the same types of content across other channels. If you are using customer data to understand how customers interact with your website, you can use that information to improve the customer experience.
As you can see, data-driven marketing is a vital part of any successful digital marketing strategy. By understanding your audience and using data to make decisions quickly, you can improve your marketing campaigns and create a better experience for your customers.
Q: How do I use data to improve my website?
A: You can use data to understand how customers interact with your website. This information can help you improve the customer experience. For example, you can use data to determine which pages are most popular, how long customers stay on each page, and what actions they take on the website.
Q: What is the best way to use data to improve my marketing programs?
A: You should use data to understand your audience, find the white space in the market, and measure what is most effective from a return on investment perspective. This information will help you create relevant content, improve your paid search, public relations, and customer engagement efforts.
Q: What is data management?
A: Data management is the process of organizing and managing data so you can use it to make decisions quickly. This includes collecting data, analyzing it, and taking action on the insights you gain. Data management is essential for data-driven marketing.