Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Where to start with Data Driven Marketing

The successful US retailer John Wanamaker (1838 – 1922) is credited with the all too true witticism:

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, the trouble is I don’t know which half”.

His quip goes to the heart of marketing – how to match buyers with a need to sellers who have what they want, but without enormous waste? Our internet age is prolific in providing data from buyers: web logs, Google Analytics, Facebook stats, Twitter feeds, plus all manner of data from our internal systems. Buyers are actually telling us what they want, we just have to interpret it correctly.

Which is what data driven marketing is all about.  Using the available data to reduce waste in the marketing system.  To match buyers who like, want and need a product or service, with those who sell it.

The benefits of data driven marketing are compelling.  Data tells us what customers want, and what they don’t want, so we can match what we offer to their needs and wants more efficiently.  Marketing costs are lowered, which is good for both buyer and seller.

But how do you get started with data driven marketing? 

The first activity is to understand your customers.  Carry out an audit of what data you have about your customers, and which systems that data is stored in.  Email, accounts, and CRM systems are likely to hold data, and so might operational systems, interactions on social media. The audit should also include the gaps: the customer information you would like, but don’t currently have, and what you would do with that information.

The audit creates a plan to bring together the relevant data, ideally in a database, so it can be analysed by a range of criteria. 

Holding customer information in a database, rather than Post-It Notes, mind maps or anywhere else is important. Whilst Post-It Notes may be colourful, they don’t give the power and flexibility of a database.  A spreadsheet is a more likely candidate, but it doesn’t provide the flexibility or future-proofing of a database.  As data is added, either records or attributes, spreadsheets become more difficult to use.  A database is designed to hold any volume of data, from small to large, and a database enables you to categorise data by a variety of attributes. As you work with your data, using a robust database like Microsoft SQL Server becomes increasingly important. Crucially, a database allows you to join information from different systems, known as a data warehouse or data mart, without any rekeying.

Sales and customer data is a solid first step in creating a data driven marketing strategy that has immediate benefits.  You get a factual profile of who buys your product or service, and perhaps who doesn’t.  It can form the basis for tests into similar or dissimilar sectors, and the basis for tailored marketing communications.  

Anatec Software Ltd specialises in database design, development and consultancy including data warehouses and analytics for marketing.  We work with Microsoft technologies including SQL Server database and Business Intelligence tools for both on-premises installations, and Microsoft Azure. 

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