Mastering Data – One Point at a Time

by | Thought Leadership

I like to say that Data has superpowers. It really does: Data has the ability to uncover and identify key insights that help us to understand our audience. It then helps us to curate our content – both the written and visual story – to be more impactful and relevant. Combined with good strategy, we are able to learn which data points are valuable to help us make meaningful connections both intellectually and emotionally with an audience. And data intelligence drives and informs the strategy. It can help us uncover the real problem and help us map out the perfect consumer journey to solve the marketing challenge with focus.

The big challenge, though, is getting to the right data. It was John Caldwell who said, “to get the right message to the right person at the right time you first need to get the right data into the right database at the right time”. This fundamental truth is what keeps many marketers and agencies up at night, and it’s the difference between success and failure.

Marketers now have more data than they know what to do with.

We are essentially doubling the world’s data every two years. Brands sit on more data today than at any point in the last 100 years, and consumers are providing brands with new data sets willingly. We collect research data, performance data, transaction data from sites, the cash register, purchase data, and data gathered from social platforms. The data pours in minute by minute, day after day. It’s virtually limitless.

With this data surplus comes a host of challenges. Where do you start? And how do you analyze the data that you have? And most importantly, how do make the right decisions regarding using the right data to connect with the right purpose?

But if data is as abundant as grains of sand on a beach, how do you know which data to use? The answer is to just follow the footprints. And we start to do this by using a tool we call the Data Maturity Index (DMI).

The DMI helps us to examine and understand the different aspects that will help you effectively collect, evaluate and use data. The ultimate goal at the ‘top end’ of the DMI is to get to a true 1:1 relationship, where the brand and the consumer engage in a meaningful and relevant dialogue based on a set number of data points that make the experience flawless.

Understanding Data Maturity begin with assessing your People Process and Technology

Depending on their DMI level, marketers may find themselves with the right technology stack, but a lack of data and know-how can limit their ability to deliver highly personalized experiences. Alternatively, marketers might find themselves sitting on a bounty of data but unable to orchestrate personalized experiences due to legacy or antiquated tech stacks.

The DMI is developed to help guide the process to first identify what your organization’s level of maturity is and ultimately expose the areas of opportunity for you to invest in your People, Processes and Technology. The right combination of these three pillars ultimately allows brands to deliver true 1:1. Another significant consideration will include a change in approaching your marketing communications as brands will have to move away from “Campaign Management” to “Decision Management”. The latter involves using the right data points to provide the next best action to your customers.

Think big. Start small: Evolution Approach

As you can imagine, significant changes in the way an organization does business can easily become overwhelming. It is important to remember that you’re not going to get to the top of the DMI overnight. You can’t boil the ocean, of course, but you do need to start somewhere – and this means identifying an opportunity and solving for it. For example, you may be experiencing issues with retention. Using the data you collect can inform a strategy to mitigate churn by providing the right content to a customer at pivotal moments. Your investment is low, but the results will be measurable and will teach you something. From there, you learn and grow. This type of “rinse and repeat” work eventually leads to a more sophisticated approach to your marketing efforts and your systems and processes will follow pretty naturally.

Testing and learning is really all there is to it. Do one thing, refine it. Then build on that and do another. Every point of contact is another opportunity to gain knowledge, technique, refinement. As you build, you slowly move up the DMI and eventually you’re having highly-sophisticated 1:1 conversations with your customers and your best prospects.

Best of all, it’s all within reach if you’re willing to commit to it. Once you’ve made the commitment, you’ve made the big first step. Let’s take it together.