[ Updated Aug 8, 2023 ]
Log in to your Google Analytics dashboard, and you’ll see hundreds of metrics across a variety of reports. Slice and dice that data, viewing website information depending on the visitor’s referral source, device, operating system…
Feeling overwhelmed? The even more worrying news is that Google Analytics is just one source. With thousands of marketing platforms, each offering its own set of custom KPIs, the sheer volume of data available is contributing to a marketing data problem that’s wreaking havoc on the industry.
Insights are wrapped up in data and seem too difficult to extract. As a result, marketing and advertising strategies become more expensive, your team wastes time on unproductive work, and competitors beat you in the race to your target customer’s wallet.
This guide shares how to uncover the data you already have, with a framework on how to maximize its mileage.
- What is marketing data?
- The importance of marketing analytics
- 3 marketing data sources to lean on
- How to make the most out of your marketing data
What is marketing data?
Marketing data is information collected about your marketing strategy, including your formats, channels, and customers. It’s used to predict, analyze, and improve marketing performance, with the ultimate goal of generating more profit for a company.
As Natalia Brzezinska, Marketing and Outreach Manager at PhotoAid, says, “Marketing involves a lot of moving parts and can be difficult to track and manage without good data.
“Marketing data helps you understand who your customers are, what they want, and how to reach them,” Natalia continues. “It also lets you measure the success of your marketing campaigns and adjust your strategies accordingly.”
The importance of marketing analytics
Marketing technology, data, and analytics is the top priority for CMOs—beating brand promotion, customer experience, and revenue management. Here’s why.
More time for productive work
Marketing is a time-consuming task. From researching your target market to refining messaging, there’s a lot standing in the way of your brand and new customers. Marketing data, however, frees up time for more productive work.
Take it from Nestlé, the biggest FMCG company in the world, which spans multiple product categories and brands under its umbrella.
Global Data and Analytics Manager Lyndsay Weir used Supermetrics to consolidate and analyze the wealth of data available. Starting with UK-specific information, Lyndsay saw real-time data on one single dashboard.
That had huge time-saving advantages—Nestlé’s team cut 80% of the time traditionally spent on marketing reporting, freeing up time for more productive work—using insights to fine-tune marketing efforts and produce the results required.
“Data streamlines and optimizes your marketing approach. To maximize your time and marketing budget, you must know which resources and strategies best serve your target audience.”Ankur Goyal, Head of Growth at Coterie
Gain powerful insights
Each individual marketing campaign comes with a list of KPIs that determine whether it achieved the results you planned for.
Analyze and benchmark these metrics against other business KPIs. For content marketers, that might be organic traffic or time on site. For paid search executives, return on ad spend or impressions likely make the shortlist.
Compare both against key business metrics—such as revenue or churn—to finetune your strategy going forward.
Andrew Shober, Marketing Strategy Analyst at Slice Communications, adds that these insights are what stakeholders want to see before freeing up additional marketing budget: “Whether it’s the executive team or clients, they want to see the data backing up marketing recommendations that are proposed—they want to see the value in marketing.”
Better marketing decisions
Speaking of insights, pooling your marketing data, and identifying patterns helps teams make better marketing decisions.
Thrive by Shopventory’s Head of Marketing, Jara Moser, explains that “As a rapidly growing SaaS platform, we rely on marketing data to inform our product roadmap. Identifying the pain points that drive users to convert on our platform and then measuring their journey and engagement over time is a key element in how we prioritize feature development.
“When releasing a new suite of tools, we are able to target users with a specific persona and business use to drive early adoption of the product.”
Jara adds, “This level of segmentation for messaging drives long-term adoption and contributes to extended LTV.”
Improve return on ad spend
When you’re spending money on advertising, you need to ensure your decision-making process is foolproof to earn cash back through paying customers. Marketing data allows you to do that.
Let’s put that into practice and say gut instinct tells you that women aged 20–30 are most likely to purchase your products. However, previous advertising data shows women in the 20–25 age bracket account for 80% of all sales.
It makes sense to niche down your targeting to only include those people, and avoid wasting advertising dollars reaching people less likely to buy.
Less hassle with maintenance
From creating client reports to refreshing ad creatives, marketing maintenance is hassle-free when you’re leaning on reliable data.
Take it from 15000 Cubits, a digital marketing agency that originally created marketing reports by manually pulling data into client-facing PowerPoints. Marketing leaders switched to Supermetrics and began to pull data from 30+ platforms into Google Data Studio.
The result? 15000 Cubits increased client transparency and retention. That’s alongside saving 20 hours a month on reporting.
Marketing data = opportunities and competitive advantage
Intimate knowledge of your marketing data, including who your customers are and what they respond best to, gives you the opportunity to reach your target market with personalized campaigns.
Half of all internet users say that when brands use their data in advertising, it helps them discover more things that are of interest to them.
Tobias Rawcliffe explains that for Number 1 Plates, “Analyzing marketing data uncovers the department’s weak areas that need optimization, particularly customer management and automating social media. Using the data gathered, the marketing team ensures that the marketing budget is spent on the right opportunities, campaigns, and tools.”
Each of these things combines to create the perfect storm: customer data your competitors aren’t aware of.
“Previously, creating a specific customer experience was a bit of a crapshoot. But today, successful brands are intentional about tailoring their customer experience to impact behavioral outcomes.”Chris Gadek, VP of Growth at AdQuick
3 marketing data sources to lean on
There are three types of marketing data you can collect when evaluating your strategy. Let’s take a look at each and how you can source them.
Zero-party data is information a customer gives voluntarily. Some marketers consider it the best, most accurate source of marketing data because potential customers voluntarily share their preferences, interests, and behaviors directly with the brand.
Source zero-party data through:
This one, titled “How good is your SEO?” asks potential customers to who they sell and their existing SEO knowledge how well they can analyze their impact. Both provide KlientBoost with first-party data it can use to further personalize its marketing approach.
“Collecting zero-party data with a quiz is the highest quality data source for your brand. It tells you exactly what your customers are thinking, giving you the key to showing the right products, to the right people, for the right reasons, at the right time. We see brands increasing their average order values by over 50% after they start to integrate quizzes and zero-party data into their conversion strategies.”Matt Schlicht, CEO of Octane AI
First-party data is information collected about a customer through an interaction with an owned property. Examples of first-party marketing data up for grabs include:
- Website: time on site, bounce rate, and pages per session.
- Mobile app: notifications opened, monthly active users, or retention rate.
- Ecommerce platform: order value, products purchased, or number of purchases.
- CRM: such as deal size, sales cycle length, or preferred communication channel.
- Social media profile: engagement rate, website clicks, or time active.
- Point of sale system: preferred payment method, purchase location, or sell-through rate.
While this type of marketing data can tell you a lot about potential customers, you’ll need to be explicitly clear about what you’re tracking—especially if your audience is within the EU. Data protection rules, such as GDPR, state consumers must know what data a website is collecting from them.
Plus, the quality and accuracy of first-party marketing data are on the decline. Major operating systems, including Google Chrome and Apple, are responding to consumer privacy concerns with cookie tracking limitations.
Apple’s iOS 14.5 update was one of the first of its kind to give users back the power, asking brands not to track their data for marketing purposes.
Third-party data is information obtained through external sources.
Brands are responding to limitations on first-party data with increased transparency, asking consumers for less data and reducing the intensity of tracking. Extra gaps are filled with data sourced from third-party sources like:
- Research studies: like time spent on social media, or preferred payment methods.
- Public demographic data: such as job title, age, or income sourced from the Census or Bureau of Labour Statistics.
- Big data aggregator companies: such as Oracle, Adobe, or Adsquare.
Marketers are spending more on third-party data—$13.3bn in 2021—because of iOS updates, GDPR, and consumer privacy concerns causing shortages of first-party information.
How to make the most out of your marketing data
You know the types of marketing data already created and how to access it. The real question is: how do you use the information collected to make smarter marketing decisions?
1. Organize the data
It’s no surprise if you’re overwhelmed with the sheer volume of data available. With over 7,000 marketing tools in use today, marketing data is a very fragmented and manual space.
Data collection is the easy part. The challenge businesses are faced with is converting this huge stockpile of raw marketing data into meaningful analytics and insight.
A data delivery solution streamlines the secure delivery of data from sales and marketing platforms. You can focus on the insights—and get to the right answers faster—while having the heavy lifting of data sourcing taken off your plate entirely.
Supermetrics sources data from hundreds of sources and pulls the most important metrics into one dashboard. Turn this information into actionable insights, no computer science degree is necessary.
2. Establish data governance
Who is responsible for managing, collecting, and storing data? The saying “too many cooks spoil the broth” applies here. The last thing you want is too many people dipping in and out of your data repository, causing inaccuracies and wreaking havoc with reports.
Establish marketing data governance—a team member responsible for keeping your repository clean—such as a data analyst or marketing leader. It’s their job to:
- Integrate your data delivery solution with third-party software
- Maintain the integration by checking each tool is functioning correctly
- Work with marketing strategists to segment data
3. Define your north star metrics
A north star metric is the driving force behind your marketing campaign. They’re usually anchored to business goals, such as reducing churn, increasing customer loyalty, or driving new revenue.
Benchmark all marketing reports against this north star metric. If the ultimate goal is revenue, prioritize financial metrics—such as average order value (AOV), campaign ROI, and customer acquisition costs (CAC)—when reporting.
4. Slice and dice marketing data
Raw data won’t always show the insights needed to improve your strategy. Dig deep into your dataset to look for marketing trends, using data analysis to benchmark metrics from several platforms against each other.
If you’re evaluating the success of a particular Facebook advertising campaign, for example, don’t use metrics contributed by Facebook in silo. Platforms are known to artificially inflate their advertising metrics, potentially causing you to pivot your strategy unnecessarily.
Sense-check yours by comparing Facebook’s own metrics with supporting data from other sources, such as:
- Your CRM
- Google Analytics
Ditch the spreadsheets and complex formulas in favor of a data visualization tool like Supermetrics. Automatically pull new data from your sales and marketing channels, and create custom reporting dashboards that merge data from several sources at once—no copy and paste required.
5. Relay data back to consumers
“It is important to remember that you aren’t just collecting data for the sake of it,” says Kyle MacDonald, Director of Operations at Force by Mojio. “You are collecting data so that you can pull insights from your audience and figure out ways to improve your methods in order to be more successful at reaching your goals.”
Relay data you find back to your customers and deliver the personalized marketing messages that 90% of US consumers find appealing.
The most common data points used for retargeting include:
- Campaign source
- Products purchased
- Email clicks
- Pages viewed
If you’re a SaaS company selling online accounting tools, for example, historical data shows that a potential customer signed up via your “tax tips” eBook two weeks ago. Since then, they’ve clicked email links and read your features and pricing page.
These people are showing clear indicators that they’re approaching the end of the sales funnel. Give them an incentive to share—such as a 10% discount code—and play up your tax features. That’s the hook that got them engaged in the first place.
Steven Light adds that for Nolah Mattress, “We use our marketing data to check in with customers, ask them for feedback, gifts of appreciation like discount codes, and simply say thank you.
“We want our customers to feel seen, and data helps keep us on top of relationship-building initiatives,” Steven continues. “With better relationships, we drive repurchases and recommendations that give our business a significant financial and reputational boost.”
6. Report regularly
Data can unveil patterns—you’ll only see them when you report regularly. Consult your repository when planning future marketing strategies and set SMART goals for improvement.
Basing future goals off historical data improves the likelihood of setting realistic targets. For example, if your current email marketing campaigns convert 2% of customers, a sensible goal would be to increase conversion rates to 4% over the next six months.
Failing to take your current baseline into account might cause you to move the goalpost to 15%—an unrealistic and long-term goal that will likely deflate your marketing team if they don’t achieve it within the same six-month plan.
Ongoing collection and data analysis make it easier to run A/B tests, too.
Use current data as your benchmark and switch up the marketing messages, formats, and channels the team is using to engage customers. Monitor the difference in KPIs—such as conversion rate or revenue generated. Just a 1% improvement compounds over time.
Make the most out of your marketing analytics
With so much data available, you’re not alone if you’re overwhelmed by the sheer number of KPIs available. But turning that data into insight has never been more important.
Data on how your marketing campaigns perform and who your customers are, allows your business to extract more valuable insights. Use them to make better marketing decisions, free up time for productive work, and gain a competitive advantage over your competitors—who might be letting their data go stale.
While marketing has a data problem, it’s no excuse to leave your most important metrics laying in an outdated Google Sheet. From consumer behavior to return on marketing spend, the right data has the power to truly transform your marketing program.
Pull, organize, and interpret data from hundreds of platforms with Supermetrics. Start your 14-day free trial today.
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