Marketers, you are sitting on a goldmine, yet most of it is turning to rubbish.
In this post, I will discuss why marketers have to be mindful of data, the importance of data capital, and the main challenges of leveraging it. I will also review a basic framework that allows us to approach big data questions through small steps.
Why bother with data?
Data holds the key to sustainable growth. In marketing, similar to the scientific world, innovation and growth stem directly from a continuous cycle of asking questions and critically analyzing the answers to generate insights. Insights can answer macro questions, like assessing the impact of your marketing, and micro decisions, like promoting a certain post in a certain channel to a certain audience at a certain time.
Insights can emerge by combining data with context, and context comes from something elemental – asking questions. As firm believers in Evidence-Based Marketing, we at TrenDemon invest tremendous amounts of effort to build and better externalize content marketing insights and help our customers understand and grow their content marketing ROI.
The paradox is that, although we are drowning in data, we still sometimes struggle to find a context for that data to give it meaning and use it to guide decision-making. Here are a few ways in which companies collect information in a manner that does not allow them to ask meaningful questions:
- No distinction between different sections of the site (e.g., not possible to analyze the performance of content page compared to features page).
- No ability to connect visitors, sessions, goals, and actions (all clustered together in groups).
- Data is collected by separate systems that do not communicate
In short – most data is wasted because there’s no structure in place to look at it properly.
What is data capital?
When raw data is interpreted according to a meaningful structure that provides answers and guides decisions, it becomes capital. As with other types of capital (financial, human), it is a finite, precious resource that you can either exploit or waste. It is only with data capital that you can truly understand your customers. It also holds prophetic powers – hidden in the patterns in your data are forecasts about what will happen next. For example, how many leads are expected to convert in the coming period.
But to transform data into meaningful insights, the first and most crucial step is to ask questions.
Three steps to leveraging data capital
Step 1 – Ask anything
The only rule: there are no dumb questions. Break complex inquiries into bite-size questions and make them easier to define.
You want the website to be “doing its job,” but what does that mean? In most cases, this means conversion. Visitors perform an action on the site that fulfills one of your goals, like completing a contact form that sales staff can use. But asking “how many conversions come from the website?” is too big a question. Instead, marketers need to form smaller queries to figure out the complex visitor behaviors that lead to conversion. Some of the common conversion-related questions that our customers want answered include:
- How many people are actually reading specific pieces of content?
- Does this piece of content encourage the visitor to keep reading or perform an action?
- How many visitors eventually become customers?
- What pieces of content are powerful enough to drive loyalty/return visits?
These issues can be answered, for example, by connecting marketing and sales data in a model which describes your visitors’ online journey, including the sources and touch points along that journey which had the most influence. You can learn which topics customers are actually interested in and use this insight to predict conversions, guide content creation efforts, and assess future product offerings.
Step 2 – Ensure proper data collection, structure, and correlation with questions.
Study the ability of your current data collection and analysis platforms (through your analytics system, marketing automation software, or solutions like TrenDemon) to collect all of the data that applies to your questions.
Then, structure the data in such a way that it can be queried to generate meaningful answers. For example, to know how the content area is performing in relation to other parts of the site, we first need to define and tag those areas accordingly. In cases where the data is not organized or abstracted, it is very difficult to derive insights.
Step 3 – Compile answers and form new questions
The last part is where you can finally start separating signals from noise. To help you navigate through your information, use analytics tools. Whatever the answers will be, they will help you pivot, optimize, or double down on your efforts. Our customers often find that information previously deemed ineffective is now seen in a whole new perspective after making these changes to reveal actual value.
Once this process is complete, it’s time to start over with a new set of questions. Except this time, there will be more knowledge behind these questions, leading to continuous improvement in your website’s value production.
How TrenDemon helps
TrenDemon’s industry-leading solution enables marketers to analyze and increase the impact of content with a technology that is easy to implement and use, but which delivers powerful results. TrenDemon is trusted by top companies around the world, from Fortune 500 to early-stage startups. To discover the value of your content and how we can take it to a higher level, arrange a no-commitment demo today: