Making Data Work For You – Think Big Start Small

by Veronika Starell House of Kaizen

If you work in digital media there’s no escaping data. It underpins pretty much everything we do and fuels strategic decisions from campaign to board level.

But since big data took centre stage you’d be forgiven for feeling more than a little overwhelmed by the scope of it all, not every organisation is ready to jump straight into DMPs or a full-suite Analytics system, be that for lack of resource, time, or budget. And though unlocking the value of big data has turned into something of a holy grail, don’t let that side-track you from the value of going back to basics.

Though I’d be the first one to acknowledge the importance of a DMP or a full-blown personalisation campaign and though millions of data points are doing wonders for our RTB campaigns as we speak, the main thing about data is neither size nor level of complexity, it’s that you use it.

Look At What You’ve Got

Every organisation will find themselves in a different place. Some have been investing in data for years and are ready to look at advanced platforms and granular customer targeting. Others might be looking to implement an Analytics platform for the first time or may still be struggling to tie their offline customer data together with their mobile customer data due to legacy platforms.

And though it’s great to get inspiration on where you should/could be heading, aiming to get there straight away can often result in you getting nowhere at all. If trying to get budget sign-off for a bigger data project has you running around in circles, with stakeholders asking for an idea of return before investing (and you needing the investment in order to prove the return) or tech implementation is looking like it’s at the bottom of the priority list, it’s worth taking a step back.

Look at how you can achieve measurable improvements on a smaller scale, using the data that you’ve got, to showcase how insights can lead to efficiency and/or growth. By gradually improving efficiency, you will likely have unlocked the budget and resource required to get the next project off the ground.

It’s not all about the full scale, real-time data, there’s still value in historic information that can help build trends and determine where efforts should be focused. So, go back to basics: what are your KPIs and what customer data points are tied to these? Whether it’s share of new subscribers, AOV, or retention rate, map them against something that ties into each campaign (such as an Order ID) and start identifying trends.

Ensure It’s In The Hands Of The Right People

A recent study made by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business asked respondents (CMOs) to identify factors preventing their companies from using more marketing Analytics:

“The leading obstacle… is a lack of process/tools to measure success through analytics, followed closely by a lack of people who can link to marketing practice.”*

In order to make the right data decisions it is essential to get your Marketing and Analytics people working together, be they internal teams or external agencies. No matter what data points you have about your customers, they mean very little if they’re just sat collecting dust in a CMS and even less so if your findings aren’t turned into actions. Suggested changes often only come into play if the people analyzing the data liaise with those who can understand its implications and make strategic decisions based on findings.

Make Sure It’s Actionable

For one of our clients, operating within the computer subscription software sector, we took a simple, qualitative data point, one that was close to their KPIs and illustrated the value of a customer to the business.

Our objective was to increase subscriptions from the right audience. So we ran this data point against all our existing campaigns – we’re talking simple Excel and VLOOKUP here, no pixel implementation, nothing fancy – tying it back to an Order ID as the common denominator. This validated our hypothesis of where to find more of these valuable customers, which made it easy to start putting increased time and budget behind the activities that clearly reached the right people.

In this instance, it started with a new commission model and recruitment strategy for the affiliate channel and we’ll be expanding the data-mapping to all other channels, in order to make similar changes elsewhere. Focusing on the basics and getting validation early in the process allows us to look at more advanced uses of data, including user identification across second party data sets.

So data doesn’t have to be as big and daunting as you think: it can be a qualitative element about your customers dug out from within the depths of your CMS, such as when they became a customer (useful for subscription models to determine when to re-approach them) or a report from within Analytics showing bounce rate against traffic volume (to determine which pages to attack first when setting your testing strategy on site).

Start Now

If you don’t have the right people within your business it’s quite likely that your agency has a broad enough experience within digital media to help you, so there really are no more excuses not to get started:

  • Identify what data you have that is valuable to your organisation (few people actually use what is right there in front of their eyes)
  • Get the right people looking at the data, in order to turn insights into actionable strategies
  • Implement strategies across all relevant teams/agencies (don’t operate in silo).

Once you’re up and running, make sure you measure performance with as holistic a view as possible, avoiding the pitfall of declaring success when an uplift in one area actually leads to a downturn in another. This will help you build a business case that highlights the value to the wider organisation, increasing the likelihood of buy-in for the next project.

*The biennial CMO Survey from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.

Veronika will be speaking about breaking down marketing channel silos at the Figaro Digital Marketing Summit on 26 April 2018. Click here to see the full agenda and to register.