The 3 Best Uses of Marketing DataJuly 30, 2012 By David M. Raab
Today's marketers face a different problem: a flood of data, not a drought. They still struggle to build consolidated databases, but their most important choice is what to leave out. Those decisions are—or should be—driven by how the data will be used. More specifically, marketers need to identify the most valuable data applications and focus their efforts on delivering them. Once the core applications are available, they can expand their data systems to support additional needs.
So, what are these core applications for marketing data? Answers will vary, of course, but a reasonable starter set would include:
1. Marketing Impact on Revenue
It's a cliche that today's marketers are increasingly expected to prove the value of their efforts, but it's true nevertheless. The wealth of available data makes is easier to calculate marketing impact, but challenges remain.
The chief obstacle is that links between marketing programs and sales results are often hard to uncover or altogether absent. Few marketing efforts result in a direct sale, and even those transactions are often influenced by earlier marketing messages. But more comprehensive marketing data does let marketers connect more marketing messages back to individuals who later make a purchase.
Marketers can also more easily set up tests to measure the incremental impact of different messages and use the detailed data to conduct more accurate statistical analyses to infer connections that can't be measured directly. While more data doesn't itself solve the value measurement problem, it does allow more reliable estimates.
2. Customer Insights
An important part of marketing's mission has always been to understand customer needs and behaviors. Today's technology makes more customer information available than previous generations of marketers could have ever dreamed possible. This data comes from keyword and site searches, Web page views, shopping carts filled and abandoned, email opens and clicks, location tracking and, of course, social media. Marketers can gather still more information through surveys and forms that customers fill out directly.