Should You Dabble In Data?

It almost seems like an axiom: Data is crucial for marketing and retention. But much like everything in life, too much of anything is never good. Here's how you can find the right balance

Lauren Dowdle
January 24 2018

One of the most current forms of information is data, that can come in the form of customer survey results, social media posts, emails, online forms, site activity or a dozen other sources. According to a survey by GlobalDMA and Winterberry Group, 77% of marketers note confidence in a data-driven approach, and 74% say they have plans to boost their data-marketing budget within the year. While there are obvious benefits to taking a data-oriented approach, there are downsides, as well. We’ll break down the pros and cons so you can figure out what makes the most sense for your team. Let’s start out with the positives of taking a data marketing approach and how that can benefit your business.

5 Pros of Using Data

On the most basic level, data is used to tell you something about your customers or leads. You can learn about their shopping habits, search history, likes/dislikes, behavior patterns and even possibly catch a disengaged customer before they leave for good. And on the marketing side, a data-oriented approach can give you the information you need to best reach the customer or consumer. Here are five of the pros of using big data for marketing.

#1 Customize the Customer Experience

Maybe you learned from a customer survey that the majority of your email subscribers want to receive newsletters twice a month. Or, one group is interested in your news emails, and another wants to receive messages on updates. Use whatever marketing data you collect to craft their experience with your company. The more personalized you can make it, the better.

#2 Provide Targeted Information

Another part of customizing their experience is creating targeted content to send out to your segmented email lists. Use questionnaires, site activity, social media posts etc. to find out what topics interest them, and send them blogs, whitepapers and other content that you know they’ll like.

For example, have they been viewing blogs on your site about how to organically grow their business? Send them a message like, “We thought you’d like these blogs on how to grow your business,” and link to several applicable pages. Show that you know them, without giving the creepy “I know what you did this morning” vibe.

#3 Improve the Buyer’s Journey Flow

Data is a great resource for showing you what is and isn’t working, especially when it comes to your buyer’s journey funnel. You’ll be able to spot if there’s a holdup between the consideration and the decision stages, for example. That lets you know you need to provide additional information focused on that stage to give them the push they need to move through the funnel. You can also test different pieces of content and approaches using your data results to see what works best.

#4 Show You Care

Anytime you put in effort to learn more about your customers, you’re showing them you care about their wants and needs. Instead of just sending them things that work for your agenda, you’ve taken the time to analyze what they like and are then creating something just for them. Consumers have come to expect this type of treatment. So, while it might not make them say “wow” every time they receive a customized message from you, not using data to tailor their experience will leave them saying something — and it won’t be nice.

#5 Increase Email Marketing Rates (and ROI)

Taking steps to personalize your customers’ experience — segmenting your email lists, creating targeted content, automating send times to match their preferences and giving them emails they want to receive — will result in better rates. Companies that use customer data and analytics average 11.2 percent year-over-year growth in their customer win-back rates and 8.1 percent increase in customer satisfaction. The more people seeing and interacting with your content and site means a higher ROI for you and your team.

3 Cons to Data Marketing

#1 Invasion of Privacy

We’ve all seen the pop-ups telling us a site collects cookies or informing us about other privacy notices. All of that sharing can make people a little wary of what type of data companies are collecting on them — and whether everything they’re doing is by the books. Make sure to follow the rules when it comes to collecting data, which includes giving people opt-in options when applicable.

#2 Lose the Human Touch

Anytime you rely heavily on analytics, you run the risk of losing touch with the human element of marketing. A successful marketing plan should be based on creating and cultivating relationships, so if you allow the data to trump people, you’ll fail. You need to find a healthy balance between the data and being a relatable brand that cares about people — not just the numbers.

#3 Become a Robot

Maybe you won’t turn into metal and start speaking in beeps, but relying on data can cause you to lose your sense of creativity. Here’s what this could look like: after trial and error, you’ve come up with a formula for a successful marketing newsletter. You place the headline there, CTA below the headline and have a main image on the side. While data shows this design has worked, it shouldn’t keep you from ever trying anything new again. That mindset can keep you from creating something even better and keeping your materials fresh. You don’t want your data-oriented approach to blind you from taking creative risks.

Should You Use Data Marketing?

The positives of using data for your marketing efforts outweigh the bad, if you go about it the right way. You just need to make sure you keep the consumer first with everything you do, and avoid getting lost in the analytics. When you find a healthy balance, you’ll start to enjoy all of the benefits that come along with strong data and solid relationships.



Lauren Dowdle

Lauren Dowdle is an award-winning writer and magazine editor based in Nashville, Tenn. Her nearly decade-long writing career has covered everything from landscaping to marketing — plus being interviewed by Jay Leno and winning a backhoe-operating contest. When she’s not behind the keyboard, you’ll find her spoiling her four furry babies and exploring the city with her husband.

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