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How to use your customer data for more efficient marketing

"Arguably, the most important evolution in the history of marketing is the ability to understand what data you have, what data you can get, how to organise and, ultimately, how to activate the data."

Mark Flaharty, executive VP of advertising at SundaySkyhit the nail on the head; data has become an integral part of any marketing strategy. 77% of marketers are confident in their data-driven approach and 74% expect to increase their data marketing budget this year, focusing on targeted messaging and data-driven strategy or product development.

According to a Pardot study with Harvard Business Review, 76% of companies who are advanced in their integration of technology, business goals and analytics report are more likely to enjoy a favourable market position.

But structuring and managing data is an issue. On average, marketers are using 9.4 different channels to market to prospects, and as companies expand their tech landscape, they are often left with disconnected devices that, as Isaac Payne of Salesforce puts it, are “spraying disorganised data around.”

Customer data, as CIO puts it, “can sprout from just about anywhere; sales transactions lie buried in a company’s CRM and ERP systems, customer interactions in marketing and customer service steal away in silos.” And then there’s external data providers that offer information about customers to help marketers better target prospects and manage the customer purchase lifecycle.

If marketers want to succeed, they need to structure, organise and analyse this data in order to drive their marketing strategy and ultimately use it to engage customers more effectively. Follow these five steps to start your journey towards a data-driven marketing strategy.

1. Simplify and streamline your customer data

It’s no good having reams of customer and prospect data if you can’t do anything with it. Marketers need to get past their disconnected systems and create a blueprint of their marketing technology stack so that they know what is being monitored, what data is being produced and what data they can analyse from the relevant tech solutions.

Streamlining your processes will help to scope out the tools you need to derive insight from your data and form the foundation for your analytics. You can then use your tools to monitor and measure engagement and interactions, and gain insight.

Ensure that your data is all of a high quality, i.e. is it useful to you? Is it from a reliable source and are all the details correct? There’s nothing worse than sending personalised content and having the wrong information on the campaign. And just as important - is it relevant? Your customer data should be sorted into multiple segments depending on your leads and who you are targeting for the ultimate level of personalisation. In turn reporting to management becomes slicker, less time consuming and ripe for drilling down and interrogating further to spot opportunities or prove investment. 

2. Align goals with data, sales and marketing

There needs to be transparency around business goals so that the marketing department can collaborate with the C-suite to define business objectives with the help of data, and then use the data and objectives to build a quality pipeline. It’s difficult to create a strong sales pipeline without the foundation of a strong database that categorises customers and highlights strong prospects. Ultimately, the end goal will be to drive revenue, but to get to that level, leads need to be built and nurtured before they are converted.

To nurture and convert leads, the marketing team also need to work in tandem with the sales team to drive the pipeline for business. Sales and marketing should agree upfront what constitutes as a lead and how to categorise and tier target prospects and customer data. Tiering prospects and lead scoring is important so that you can highlight premium leads, sales can then prioritise these leads with targeted sales techniques based on the information that marketing has gathered on them. 

3. Create customer data and system architecture

There are many components within your technology stack, so you should map out where customer data will be captured and where it can be analysed and eventually put back into the campaign.

Salesforce recommends using the following system architecture to roll out your campaign and collect data.

Campaign > Web Form > Response > Lead/Contact > Account > Opportunity

You need the right mix of technologies to produce the right data. As Theresa Regli, Principal Analyst at Real Story Group, puts it: marketers need to think like a bartender when it comes to digital asset management: you need to mix the right technologies together to make the perfect cocktail. Take the time to "craft, taste, test, and find the right balance between the different elements," including marketing automation, social engagement, CRM, and other tools, Regli says.

4. Look at your KPIs alongside your customer data

Now you have already aligned your business goals with your data and created a systematic technology structure to capture and convert customer data, you can now define your KPIs. KPIs can be strategic, i.e. answering the ‘what’ – revenue, pipeline etc, or Tactical, i.e. answering the ‘how’ – e.g. email open rates, CTM, conversions, SEO etc.

But the primary principle is how you tie tactical analytics into strategic analytics to create a data journey, i.e. how will you improve your channel and eventually achieve your primary goal.

Strategic data KPIs focus on revenue. Salesforce predicts that the data journey will look something like this:

·  Start with responses to your campaign

·  Leads created – raw lead records created

·  Marketing Qualified Leads – not every lead is going to sign up

·  Nurture and grade MQL leads before passing over to sales

·  SAL (sales accepted leads) given over to sales and worked on

·  Opportunity – new selling opportunity from a lead

·  New businesses – a customer required

Tactical data KPIs are all about slicing, dicing the data and using it to improve your campaign strategy. These data points and analytics help you to understand what’s working and what’s not. Salesforce advises that you approach tactical data KPIs as follows:

·  Views, clicks and interactions with your content, including social shares

·  Which channels are driving registration?

·  How can use this data to improve the funnel?

·  Are there enough leads in system?

·  Look at tactical data – i.e. all leads have been gathered by email engagement

·  Look at the most cost effective programmes that help you to hit your goals

·  How can you replicate that?

5. Use customer data to optimise the customer journey

Looking at the data that is produced by your marketing efforts, you can then see where customers are engaging and use this as an indicator to improve your marketing funnel.

“Engagements are the largest and most meaningful set of data points we have. Each user has a number of engagements across different channels. Our optimisation purpose is to build, present and drive such engagements to increase the probability of customer conversions,” says Gartner.

Customer data-driven marketing lets you identify customer success, learn from it and apply it to subsequent customer acquisition and conversion. This direct insight into customers’ behaviour is particularly helpful for the 66% of marketers who are using data marketing to create customer messages and personalised customer experiences.

Once an innovative approach marketing, data-driven marketing has now become an important strategy to consider as part of your campaigns thanks to the advancements in technology and analytics allowing us to slice, dice and interpret customer data. Not only can it help to improve customer engagement, but 49% of marketers are also using data-driven marketing to maximise effectiveness and efficiency of marketing and consequently develop their marketing plan. Use a data-driven marketing strategy to develop smarter campaigns and build stronger customer relationships.