How to Convert Data into Actionable Results? Best-in-class marketers are 56% more likely to use data and analytics platforms. Why? Because the best marketers know that data, when used correctly, is the best way to get results.
Marketing reports can show which strategies are working and which ones need tweaking or outright cancellation. Unfortunately, to get that insight from all those colorful charts and graphs, you need to know what the data means. Without a proper interpretation of the numbers, marketing strategies will stagnate.
There is no shortage of data to interpret these days. Both third-party and independent analytics data comes from virtually every point of digital contact, and culling all that information becomes an overwhelming task.
The good news is that marketers and companies don’t need to understand every single, little piece of data that comes in, but they do need to understand which data points are impacting their goals.
Keep reading for tips on how to take those raw percentages and turn them into future marketing strategies that will tweak your efforts.
Tips for turning marketing data into actionable results
1. Think about what data really matters to your business
A common question business owners ask is, “What marketing data should I pay attention to?” and while it’s an understandable question, it’s the wrong one.
When entrepreneurs ask this question, they are looking for industry standards that they can use to measure their own success. Unfortunately, looking solely at benchmarks and industry averages can detract from basic goals. While they are a good place to start, they only measure general goals and tell you nothing about whether a particular campaign is on track to achieve its strategic goals.
The needs of each business are unique, and what counts as success depends on the business, the campaign, and sometimes even the week. When it comes to optimizing your marketing strategy, reaching benchmarks in your industry for the number of open emails is not a very useful metric if the goal is to get more views on a particular video. Maybe people opened the email, but did they click where they were supposed to?
That’s the beauty of the data, it’s specific to your business and its goals. You decide which metrics help tell your success story and then use them to definitively say, yes, it was an effective campaign or no, we still have work to do.
Just because a lot of data is right at our fingertips doesn’t mean all of it is necessary. As A. Lee Judge of Content Monsta said, “All data is not useful data, and more data is not better data.”
2. Make reports on a regular basis
The number one mistake companies make when it comes to using their data is not reporting. Many companies use built-in reporting dashboards from various marketing stacks, but don’t compile that data into an actionable report that can be applied later. If you’re guilty of this, don’t worry! You can start making a difference today.
If you’ve wondered why your generic system-generated reports aren’t giving you much valuable information, it’s because they’re not designed to do so. If you’re looking at a dashboard full of numbers, it’s just a dashboard full of numbers. Without someone interpreting the numbers and explaining how they relate to the campaign, it’s impossible to turn those numbers into useful actions.
Of course, taking the time to create reports is an investment in marketing strategy and should not be missed. We get it. No one likes reports. Well, except for data scientists, but you’re a special breed. Most of us shudder at the thought of having to do another report, but that analytical data will help guide every marketing decision that follows.
Having a reporting person on your team also means you can increase the frequency of your reports, which will help identify optimizations that can be made during the campaign, not just after.
At least once a month is a given, but major initiatives should have a regular reporting schedule at the beginning, middle and end so that successes and improvements can be noted throughout.
3. Create a story for your data
The old adage “data without context is meaningless” is often repeated because it’s true. Figures without context are just numbers, and there’s not much we can do with them. It’s like someone telling you they got 3,000 page views and asking if that’s a good thing. The answer depends on whether it was done in an hour, a day, or a year? Was the page getting paid traffic or was it all organic? Without context, we can’t answer that question.
With data, there’s always a story waiting to be told, and a good data marketer will be able to paint the picture for you. Is the campaign successfully converting leads? Is the ad attracting enough clicks to the landing page? Are people filling out a form on the landing page to submit custom content?
The data will give you the answers. Think of your goal as a riddle, and your data as clues along the way. To solve the riddle and answer your question, look at your data history.
For example, to find out if an ad is attracting enough potential customers to a landing page, a marketer might start by analyzing the total number of ad impressions or the number of clicks to the landing page. They can also analyze total ad spend, landing page bounce rates, the effectiveness of various ads, and the most effective ad placements.
What does all this work give you? It gives you a comprehensive look at what’s happening on the customer journey. With all of this data, a marketer can determine that ad spending and the number of impressions are on track, but that people are not clicking on the ad when they see it. This would be a signal that a change in content could solve the problem.
4. Conduct a comprehensive reassessment of your strategy every quarter
Did you know that 81% of marketers find incorporating data into their strategies partly or very difficult? That’s most of us! If you feel like you’re lacking in data, you’re not alone.
One way to make it less overwhelming is to do a quarterly strategy review where all past data is factored into the analysis of your marketing initiatives. Setting aside time can seem tedious, but being able to get together and analyze everything from social media and email to website traffic and advertising can really identify weaknesses in your strategy and improve it.
Analyzing data in isolation can also lead to blind spots, which are eliminated when all strategies and their overlapping parts are seen together. It also gives marketing departments the opportunity to learn from each other.
Tying it all together
Data, when used correctly, helps marketers make strategic and specific changes to achieve goals and prove a return on investment. Without data, marketing strategies can never be truly optimized.
Of course, having all the right data in the right place is the first step to being able to use it. Creating a shared document, folder or chart of data that connects them is a great start for smaller teams. Larger marketing departments should look into an analytics solution that can link information from a variety of sources into one dashboard that is easily accessible to all team members.