Connecting the Data Dots

In this day and age, many marketers exist in a paradoxical state: they’re data-rich but insights-poor. Marketers have an influx in customer data. However, having the ability to understand these vast amounts of information hasn’t necessarily kept the same pace. Marketers know they have to build more complete customer profiles and to connect the dots (i.e., apply insights) at the consumer level across multiple marketing channels.  How do they plan on getting there?

That’s exactly what we asked. Yesmail partnered with Infogroup Targeting Solutions and surveyed 700+ top marketers at the DMA2012 Annual Conference and Forrester Research’s eBusiness Forum. We made some striking findings. For instance, 68% of marketers expect their data-related expenditures to increase in 2013. While this stat reveals most marketers are making data-driven strategy a priority this year, they’re all at different stops on the data train.

Regardless, marketing goals generally maintain a common thread: better targeting, more efficient campaigns, greater customer retention, and ultimately, higher revenue. In order to meet these objectives, brands need the right systems and people in place to manage data collection, hygiene, analysis, and application.

1. Data Collection: As consumers become increasingly fragmented, digital technology has made customer data more accessible and measureable than ever before. (Not to mention, the implementation costs per customer are marginal.)

For example, using email analytic tools, brands can gauge both inferred and declared customer interests via open and clickthrough rates. Utilizing web tracking solutions, marketers can also target customers based on transactional data such as purchase history to trigger automated email campaigns. These data-driven programs lead to enhanced marketing personalization.

2. Data Hygiene: Though collecting data has become significantly easier, cleaning data—not so much. Data maintenance should take place on a weekly or at least monthly basis. However, more than a quarter of marketers we surveyed couldn’t remember the last time they cleaned their data.

Other respondents had even been hoarding transactional data that’s a decade-plus old. Don’t waste time using outdated, duplicate, or junk data. Your campaign performance and sending reputation will thank you, since you won’t target disinterested prospects or end up on an ISP blacklist.

3. Data Analysis: The volume and speed of data collection today can exceed our ability to comprehend it all. Data systems are great for storage, identifying trends and running models. However, dedicated analysts are the ones who build the customer profiles and figure out how to leverage this information to target the right segments appropriately. Analysts make the customer data work and this is crucial, as customers expect you to know them. When we asked marketers if they plan on hiring new employees to handle data analysis this year, one in five respondents said they expect to hire a data analyst or strategist.

4. Data Application: Data comes full circle in the application stage, when insights garnered from analysis are applied and executed. As digital marketing campaigns become more data-driven over time, targeting and messaging become more effective.  For these improvements to be continual, it’s important to remember that marketing programs should maintain consistency across channels and performance results should be measured on an ongoing basis.

While there’s a lot of work to do in order for marketers to catch up with their customer information, data doesn’t have to be overwhelming with the right infrastructure and people in place. Once data is collected, cleaned, analyzed, and applied, it reveals its own value and justifies future data-related investments.

To learn more about how marketers are planning on overcoming Big Data challenges, click here to download the complimentary report.

Author Bio

Michael Fisher

As President of Yes Lifecycle Marketing, Michael Fisher spearheads the continued innovation and leadership of Yes Lifecycle Marketing’s cross-channel marketing & analytics platform, Yesmail360i, award-winning agency services, robust proprietary data, and sophisticated database technology management. He helps brands leverage these solutions and services to enable them to become insights-driven businesses. Michael brings significant experience to this role. He was SVP Sales and Marketing, Americas for Alterian Software from 2008 to 2011 where he successfully built and managed the company’s North American sales team. During his tenure there, sales increased by more than 40% annually. Before Alterian, Michael was at Epsilon as Vice President and General Manager, Financial Services where he developed and delivered integrated data and marketing solutions to clients in the financial services vertical. He also worked at DoubleClick and Unisys Corporation. Mike has a Masters of Arts degree in Organizational Leadership from Lewis University and a BS in Communications from Illinois State University.