Big data has gone from “nice to have” to “necessity” in any company’s marketing strategy. Without knowing what your customers are doing and what prompts them to buy, you’ll never know how to improve your marketing strategy and stay competitive in your industry.
And it can take awhile to identify all of your data points. According to Adobe, the average consumer goes through a minimum of five touch points with a business before converting to a sale. That’s five different opportunities to see what type of content or material your audience is interacting with – and to use that data to help refine your marketing.
So why aren’t more companies tapping into data to help shape their marketing? Reasons range from lack of resources or understanding of big data and how to use it, to trust and transparency concerns. According to reporting from the Wall Street Journal, 70% of marketing executives would like to increase their digital budget, but they want to be sure they can measure the ROI before they take the plunge.
Whatever the reason more companies aren’t harnessing their data, marketers can’t afford to simply dismiss it just because they aren’t sure if they can trust it or not. There’s a straightforward way around that issue: audit your own data collection to get a more transparent picture of what’s going on. Here are 7 ways to get started.
1. Audit Your Target Market
It’s difficult to audit your marketing data without first considering your target market. Their gender, income level, career, and even political affiliation can impact their purchasing behavior and how they interact with your brand. So start your audit journey by studying the data you’ve collected on your audience and look for common patterns.
For example, if you’ve used Facebook ads, you may find your core conversions come from a particular area of the country where people work in similar industries. Or you may find that your customers are all in the same income bracket and share key interests. You can use those digital ad findings to build more trust in your data to determine how your customers’ behaviors may be impacting your sales and marketing effectiveness.
And aside from getting a better handle on your data, going through this process can also give more insights into what types of products or services they want from your company.
2. Perform a Marketing Strategy Audit
Your marketing strategy may not be filled with data points yet, but it still needs to be taken into consideration when putting together a comprehensive audit. Look at your entire marketing strategy, from who you’re targeting to how you’re attracting them to your business.
Think of this process as identifying your business’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These points can help determine if the data you’re collecting is actually hitting your marketing strategy goals or not. For example, you may decide you want to measure data for:
- The age and career level of people signing up for your business webinar
- How many people are signing up for your email list, and through what avenues, whether social media or cold email
- How many people attend your hosted industry conference
3. Determine Which Areas to Audit
Once you’ve pulled together some KPIs and have a refreshed view of your marketing strategy, you can determine which areas to audit. You may already have plenty of data points on your email marketing list and can see how it converts to sales, so you may not feel compelled to go through the audit process for this specific KPI. Although it’s wise to have a comprehensive view of your data during your audit, you don’t necessarily need to audit every area.
However, if you’re not sure if you should audit your data, you can ask yourself a few key questions:
- Do I understand how this data is performing?
- Do I understand how it ties together with my other data?
- Do I understand how to best leverage this data to better shape my marketing strategy?
- Do I trust this particular set of data?
- Do I understand the ROI of my own data-driven marketing?
If you can’t answer “yes” to these questions, then it’s probably necessary to go ahead and audit these points.
4. Track How the Data is Used
Companies are only scratching the surface when they’re simply tracking and collecting data. They should also be auditing how that marketing data is actually used. For example, your email marketing campaign data could be used to roll out new social media campaigns. One way of doing this is by seeing what your customers are responding to and links they’re clicking on in your emails, and using that information in your social media campaigns.
Or your lead magnet on your website may collect data on your customers’ pain points that are then incorporated into your new product launches. Your team can use those pain points to restructure your sales copy, focus on more relevant features and benefits, and find your ideal customers at conferences, MeetUp groups, and through targeted Facebook ads.
Tracking the data could also reveal that the tools you’re using aren’t reliable. If you’re getting different results that show no commonalities and seem ‘off,’ then you may need to invest in different tracking tools. That process alone could help shed more light on the issue and how to resolve it.
One of the positive side effects of auditing your data is that you’ll also be able to see the potential in how you can use that data. Tracking how all of your data is used can identify areas that overlap or can work in tandem to better inform your marketing plan.
5. Analyze Your Global Data
Once you’ve pulled together different data points from your demographics, including collection methods and how and why they’re being tracked, it’s time to analyze your global data. Look at how all of your data is working together and the patterns that emerge from that audit.
Here’s where building your trust in your marketing data comes into play. You should now have a better idea if your data is predictable and reliable, or if you need a new system to collect and analyze it on a regular basis. This step really focuses on the transparency of your data and finding commonalities. Once you’ve done that, you can get a better understanding of how your data builds confidence in your systems.
6. Talk to Your Internal and External Partners and Agencies
Meticulously collecting and analyzing your data can only take you so far. Talking directly to your internal and external partners and agencies can provide you with deeper insights into what’s going on in your data collection process.
Start by asking them how they collect and use their own data, how it applies to your data collection, and gather feedback on their findings. From there, you may discover more data points to collect and audit and get a clearer picture of how the data works together.
Don’t forget to ask your partners and agencies what’s not working in regards to their marketing data. For example, they may struggle with understanding and implementing data collection on conversion rates and how to apply it. Find out how the data can best be used, and where it’s become a struggle and distraction.
7. Turn Auditing Into an Ongoing Process
Planning a data audit and getting past that initial learning curve takes commitment and will likely evolve over time. Your business and customer base isn’t static, and neither is your marketing data. That’s why auditing your marketing data shouldn’t be done just once before moving onto something else.
Instead, make your marketing audit an ongoing process that’s integral to your business. Schedule it for the same day every week or once a month, depending on the size and demand of your data collection. Implement the tools and processes needed to monitor your progress, better understand your data, and identify gaps in your marketing efforts. From there, you can add to your ongoing audit and allow it to evolve to encompass the ever-changing nature of your customer base, trends and business offerings.
Regardless of how you plan to audit your data collection, reframe your thinking on what it means to perform a marketing audit to accelerate the growth of your business. It’s equally as important as your financial audit, and can help take the guesswork out of your business and empower your bottom line. It may also be time to invest in the right tools to help monitor the quality and reliability of your data. A tool like Tag Inspector can ensure quality data with a tag testing platform and comprehensive tag library designed for marketers, to help them manage large sites and multi-brand enterprises.
Do you have difficulty trusting your own marketing data, or have you completed an audit of your own? Let us know about your experience by leaving a comment below: