Data is often considered a specialized tool for technical roles. But data also proves its value in non-technical use cases, particularly in marketing funnels and improvements in the customer journey. We recently dove into this topic at the first session in our new webinar series, Driving the Data-Driven Enterprise. In the webinar, our three panelists shared their insights on how to use data to enhance the customer experience. Here are five takeaways from the conversation. Scroll down to watch the session on demand.
1. Demystifying Data Means Knowing What Data You Have (And Why)
Data literacy remains one of the greatest challenges of demystifying data for marketing purposes. Dmitrii Kustov, Entrepreneur, Marketing Director at Regex SEO, shares that before you can start dissecting your data, you need to know what data you have and why you have it, and then build from there.
“In order to demystify and understand data, you need to have the right data in place. For example, for user profiling, you could collect data about who visits your website and how they interact with it. And to get users to your website, you can do keyword research before you start doing any SEO. To improve the user experience, you can do a heatmap analysis. From there, you can make decisions based on your data.”
It’s equally important to be intentional about the data you collect. Many organizations make the mistake of trying to collect as much data as possible, whether it’s useful or not. But having too much data for the sake of data can muddy the waters and make using your data effectively even more complicated. As you go, you’ll learn more about the data points that actually help your business.
2. Funnel All Your Data to One Place to Create Seamless Experiences
CEO of Mobile High 5, an SMS text marketing and loyalty agency, Barbara Casey notes that many organizations still have their data too siloed to use it effectively. The remedy is to have all your data funneled to a single location.
“If you have a brick-and-mortar shop and an e-Commerce website, you don’t want your data going to two sources,” says Casey. “That’s not how your customer works. People shop online, then go into stores to make their purchases. The whole experience needs to be fluid.”
Casey notes that many of the clients she speaks with believe they don’t have customer data—or at least enough data to make a difference. But she agrees that many companies have more data than they think. Things like customer birthdays, marital status, number of children in the family, or anything else they know about their customers counts as data. Data is everywhere, and you’ll find it if you look hard enough.
3. Think Like a Customer
Kristopher Lazzaretti, Head of Data-driven Marketing at Deluxe Corporation, believes that using data to improve the customer experience means being able to cater to what customers need and want from you.
“Take a step back and understand what’s relevant for customers at the stage of their life journey. For example, we know that about 75% of major financial decisions happen alongside a recent life event. If we can understand your customers’ life events, we can have relevant conversations with them and offer the right financial products at the right times.”
Marketing is more effective when it comes in the form of conversations instead of advertisements. It’s more authentic and meaningful because you’re personalizing it to the customer and not sending out mass messages that don’t resonate.
4. Personalize Your Interactions Beyond Basic Profiling
Old-school marketing and segmenting relied on profiling customers based on surface-level data. This was the classic approach to building buyer personas, which could be used to create customer journeys. But these groups aren’t always accurate, nor do they always add value in marketing.
A better approach, according to Kustov, is to replace assumptions with data. For example, what type of content is the person engaging with on your website? What have they shown interest in?
Rather than categorizing a customer under a buyer persona that’s designed to represent lots of people, it’s better to know them as a person that’s unlike any other person. This is the heart of personalization and tends to meet people where they are at the right time.
5. Make Data a Habit
Many organizations get bogged down in the details of data. What technology do I need? Do I need a data scientist? What data should I collect? How do I collect it? The endless questions can be the biggest barrier to using data in the first place.
The way around this is to “just start somewhere,” according to our panel. Make data the center of everything you do. If you find places where you think data doesn’t belong, challenge that idea. Identify any gaps in your data analytical capabilities.
Taking simple steps like investing in data literacy for yourself or your team doesn’t cost much. There are tons of free or near-free resources online that help you understand how you can collect and use data. You can learn as you go, but just start going.
As you get better at using data, start questioning all the decisions you make without data. Think, “Is there a way for data to help me enhance this?” Chances are, you’ll find more ways to incorporate data in every decision.
Creating a Data Ecosystem for All
As Kustov mentioned, the first step in demystifying data is having data. This requires companies to be more intentional about collecting data and having thorough processes to organize, analyze, and use it. Data needs action to form a truly data-driven enterprise, and companies can encourage more participation when data makes sense to everyone.