How B2B marketers should eat the data elephant
Everyone loves data, especially CMOs. They’re proverbial kids in a candy store – thrilled with so many choices – but perhaps puzzled by which piece to pick up first.
With the digital age’s deluge of data has come analysis paralysis that can suck the productivity out of any marketing team. So, how should B2B marketers sift through the data glut and form actionable insights that generate a well-crafted marketing plan? One bite at a time, just like they would eat an elephant.
Set realistic expectations.
Most B2B marketers agree that an effective data-driven strategy is critical to success. However, today’s CMOs have set unrealistically high expectations for themselves, thinking their departments should be 100% data-driven. But time, budgets and staff limitations make this impossible. And simply wading through the data downpour can nullify an otherwise industrious workday.
Consider, too, a 2018 Forbes Insights and Treasure Data report that states “only 13% of companies can be considered ‘leaders’ in leveraging customer data, a statistic that underscores the gap between competency and expertise in the applications of data.” So, most companies -- not just marketers -- struggle to realize the full potential of data and effectively apply insights generated by consumer analytics.
But with time, CMOs can help their teams undergo a marketing transformation and form solid insights by selecting strategic pieces of data to build programs and campaigns. And they can start this process by accessing data within their own purview. Some of the most accessible, in-house sources of data include Google Analytics, public relations wire services and buyer personas.
Start gathering insights from Google Analytics.
Although the number of marketing channels continues to multiply, most marketing stacks contain Google Analytics -- a free tool that helps B2B marketers make decisions based on their website’s data. And while Google Analytics can be a beast in and of itself, marketers can filter data and gather insights like: How many page views does my website get? Who visits and how long do they stay? What do they click on the most? Which campaigns bring the most traffic and conversions? Are they responding to the site’s calls-to-action?
The key is to select one piece of data and build from there. Google Analytics allows CMOs to understand where to best use marketing dollars to improve website content, conversions, the user experience and the company’s bottom line. Marketers can then generate reports made of dimensions (attributes of data) and metrics (quantitative measurements of dimensions), both of which are used to learn more about their customers and improve their marketing strategies.
Collect data from your PR efforts.
Data can also be gathered from media outlets that funnel traffic to a company’s site. Say, for instance, someone reads an article mentioning a marketer’s company and clicks on a hyperlink to its site. Google Analytics knows where that traffic comes from and provides key data that includes what content they clicked on and from which referring website.
By understanding the online media placements garnering the most clicks, marketers can track referral traffic and discover which publications funnel the most traffic their way and then adjust their marketing strategy accordingly.
Similarly, marketers can find out whether their news releases funneled inbound traffic by reading reports created by paid wire distribution services they use. Reports provide information including total views, shares, link clicks and source of traffic. Did the news release lead to follow-up press coverage, and if so, by which media outlet? Did the release lead to conversions? Knowing you can access these slices of data easily can greatly help marketing teams seeking to be data-driven.
Use data to build buyer personas.
Finally, building out buyer personas can help shape future marketing campaigns, programs and strategies. After uncovering insights from customer surveys or interviews – qualitative research – savvy B2B marketers dive into their website’s Google Analytics to sharpen personas with quantitative findings.
Such data allows marketers to place a firmer finger on the pulse of customer personas by going deeper into the when, where and how their customers want to communicate with a brand. It also allows them to expand further into their customers’ pain points.
Data can be a CMO’s friend, not foe.
Although data overload can easily overwhelm B2B marketers and render them unproductive, the key is to start small and build from there. Being data-driven is an ongoing goal that marketers can improve upon over time. And it can begin with tools that are readily available: Google Analytics, wire service reports and building better personas through data. Ingesting the data elephant is possible if taken just one bite at a time.
This article by Arketi was originally published by Forbes.