“Data-driven” marketing can sometimes sound like a meaningless buzzword. Most marketers now define their activities as “data-driven”, if only because it makes them sound techier. In reality, and as research has found, only 50% of marketers use data-driven marketing strategies to customize and enhance the customer experience. 

There’s a good reason for that: transitioning to data-driven marketing can seem overwhelming. Even a basic analytics package provides you with more data than you need, and so it can become extremely difficult to work out which metrics to measure, and then spot trends in your analytics

In this guide, though, we’ll give you some practical steps to incorporating data into your marketing strategy.

Getting Started: Have the Right Tools

Before you begin, though, you’ll need to get some tools in place. There are a couple of must-have tools for collecting data on your marketing activity. The first is to invest in a quality web analytics package, which gives you stats on who is using your website, and what they are doing with it.

Second, you should ensure that your eCommerce platform is also capable of providing you with reliable, detailed information. Most eCommerce website-building platforms give you some functionality in this regard, but as Alex Williams, head of research at Hosting Data points out in a comprehensive review of the best website builder applications, there are significant differences between these platforms when it comes to data analytics. 

With these tools in place, you can then incorporate the data they provide you with into your marketing strategy. Here are the 7 steps to success with data-driven marketing. 

1. Identify Your Goals

First, recognize that you are not going to be able to measure everything. And, in fact, that you don’t need to. Just because you can measure something doesn’t mean you should. 

Instead, set a number of achievable goals for your marketing strategy. These could be as simple as increasing website traffic by 25%, or as complex as increasing sales of a particular item to a particular demographic.

2. Define Your KPIs

Identifying your specific goals can then feed directly into the next stage of your marketing strategy. This is to work out how you are going to measure success against these goals. If you can’t measure success using the data you have available, either your goals are too vague (so go back to step one), or you need a more powerful data collection system.

Defining your KPIs is incredibly important because they are your ultimate measure of success.

3. How Do You Collect Data?

With your KPIs in place, you should have an excellent idea of which data you need to collect in order to measure them. 

The sad fact is that many marketers skip straight to this step without doing the groundwork first. When you first get a web analytics package, for instance, it can be tempting to make huge spreadsheets from all of the data you are collecting, and only then try and work out what it means. By defining your goals first, and also how you are going to measure them, you can spend less time wading through data, and more time focusing on what actually matters.

4. Store The Data

This might sound like a slightly strange step to put into a marketing strategy, but it’s incredibly important. Sure, your data analytics software automatically stores data using machine learning algorithms, but you should think carefully about how it is doing that under the hood.

If you don’t store these data correctly, you are exposing yourself to a number of risks. Not only will you not be compliant with local data protection laws, but if these data are not stored securely they can easily be stolen. Make sure you use encrypted, secure storage, and put in place a zero-trust strategy that limits access to those employees who actually need it.

5. Measure Your Success

If you’ve completed the steps above properly, measuring success is as simple as comparing the data you’ve collected to your KPIs. At this stage, many marketers find that the data they have collected is not sufficient to capture the complexity of the behavior of their customers. If that sounds like you, don’t worry: even this realization is an important step in allowing you to tighten up your goal setting.

At this stage, you can also turn your KPIs into an accessible dashboard, which highlights your successes. This is a powerful way of arguing for further funding for your marketing team since executives generally respond well to such tangible metrics.

6. Target Your Marketing

Finally, you should iterate the process above. Success (or otherwise) against your KPIs should not be viewed as a one-off measurement of the efficacy of your B2B outreach strategy and campaigns. Instead, it should be used to target your marketing toward particular demographic groups.

Not only does this targeting make your content more effective, but it also has a direct effect on the profitability of your company. There is no point in spending money delivering content to groups who are not responding to it, and your data should give you an excellent idea as to where and when your marketing is most effective. You can then plan your budget for digital marketing around these groups, and make sure that your marketing ROI is solid. 

7. Creativity and Data

This process might sound a little prescriptive for marketers who are used to working in highly creative environments. That, in fact, is one of the reasons why many marketers are reluctant to start to use data-driven techniques. 

In reality, though, research shows that digital marketing techniques can improve creativity. The trick is to use the data you are collecting to inform your creative process, rather than as a replacement for it. You know how your customers think, after all, but collecting data on the success of your marketing is the only way you can prove this!