There are no Mad Men in digital marketing. Don Draper's decaying carcass marks the end of the gut-driven marketing era. Digital world pairs with humongous data streams. Everything can be explained by numbers: from transactional paths to human behavior, to why we like Walter White more than his wife. It's the dawn of the new era - the Math Men era. Or is it?
On the eve of the data-driven life not only 'naysayers' ask themselves "How much data is too much?". Some people even dare to ask Where lies the thin line between the just right amount of (personalization, information, automation) and scary, machine-rising, utterly unnecessary show-off.
While facing the problem of "too much" today's marketers must ask themselves what's more important in digital marketing - quality or quantity.
Once the term Big Data came to life, giving marketers an impulse to start measuring their actions and root them in real life data the race of "big everything" begun.
In short, Big Data refers to all demographic and behavioral information companies collects about its customers and prospects. It can be used to understand better who they are, what they want and to optimize marketing actions. From automation to behavioral and transactional profiling, as well as predictive marketing none of this could exist without the use of online data on the users’ behavior and preferences. Since 2012, Big Data is described as huge data sets expanding in three dimensions: Velocity, Variety, and Volume.
And it's good, you know. In this case - the more, the merrier. The more data you have, the more accurate are your predictions of which communication channels perform best for a given recipient, what products to offer to each and every visitor of the website, or even how to run a not-annoying, well-converting campaign across various channels including the online/offline bridge.
Expanding the data in all mentioned “directions” builds marketer's base of clients' (both - individuals and groups) dossier of the highest quality.
And here's the thing: the data itself is useless! It's using it to enhance one's actions, and boost performance that makes it valuable. But an average individual can't handle this amount of data streams.
So is it all about quality?
Well maybe if I had fewer leads, but of a higher quality, my business would be both - fruitful and scalable at the same time? - Thought a marketer. So he sat in "the dock of the bay" and waited, and waited, and waited some more for the lifetime opportunity. Spoiler - it never came.
Extremes seldom bring proper results. Again - there's nothing wrong with the quality data. Bah! I encourage you to challenge yourself to cut off all of the futile requests. Enriching the database with the hot (or at least warmed up) leads and focusing on the denser actions will bring you only benefits and satisfaction. Mind, however, that it isn't easy like one-two-three. Start with asking where to find those better leads and what to do to make more of every action you take (and which efforts are worth the energy put in their performance).
Where the “Just right” begins?
If you couldn't answer questions from the last paragraph in a split of a second, it means you have no clue on what works best for your business and what is first in a row to be cut out. Let's get it clear. There's nothing wrong with good customer intelligence, nor in raising the quality of acquired data to optimize actions and costs of running a business. So why not make them work together? Modern software such as CRM, some Marketing Automation Platforms, and Analytic Panels allow producing a high-functioning merge between quality and quantity.
Just take a look:
collecting customer data -> better understanding of consumers' needs -> new level of personalization -> optimization of marketers performance -> measuring results ->spotting efficient actions and underperforming ones -> more time for self-improvement -> even better performance -> hotter leads ->higher revenue -> etc.
I could go like this all day long. And there's so much more. There are new technologies that translate data streams into remarkable actions. Just to mention AI and Machine Learning, bots, recommendation engines, augmented reality, etc. Big Data, if used correctly can bring more good than bad. It affects many company's areas, starting with marketing and sales.
The "consumer" is evolving and so is marketing. Today's consumers (sometimes called prosumers) are smart, picky and usually go through 90% of buying journey on their own. They don't like to be interrupted or told what to do. That is what they claim.
The truth lies, as always, somewhere in between. Those people are so used to smart and dynamic websites they don't even notice those gentle "pokes" that make them lean towards the purchase. They expect 100% personalized push notifications with a discount when passing by the favorite store. Consumers are no longer surprised when they receive an email offer of a shampoo + conditioner when the currently used ones are almost empty. Do you see the pattern? That's right - it's Big Data in action. What makes it even more powerful is the elegance of usage - not too pushy, nor hidden. It is the "just right" amount of it.
As a marketer or an entrepreneur, you should aim at this exact level of personalization. There are many ways to achieve it.
1. Collect data:
But for love's sake do it smart. Ask yourself what information is useful in your business - is apparel company interested when customer's car insurance is no longer valid? No! Skim through all your forms, web beacons, pop-ups, trackers, and so on, and evaluate the importance of the data they collect.
2. Translate data into actions:
What's the use of a beautiful suit that's always hanging in your closet? Data, if not used only takes space and gives you a false impression, that you are good at marketing. Engage automation processes that will do the computing for you. If you spot the set of data that seems unnecessary - try to look at it from a different angle. Ask simple questions - what it tells me? How can I turn it into dollars? If you can't find the answers - don't bother collecting it.
3. Evaluate and optimize:
What Marketing Automation experts are not telling you is that lion's share of time saved by automating processes is further used to test, improve and draw conclusions from performed campaigns. Learn how to test. Once you find a good pace - it will all come naturally.
The contact point for data and marketing action is software. There are a few categories of useful tools available on the market.
The basic ones are trackers, such as Google Analytics tool, or Yandex. They gather the basic behavioral information about website visitors. Where they came from, what were they looking at, which buttons/banners they clicked. These are great tools to understand customer’s paths on the website.
The next step will be to understand why people do what they do. It calls for deepened behavioral and transactional profiling. The tools you are looking for include RFM analytical panels, CRM, and automated tagging systems. The most elegant form of them combined together is a marketing automation platform. Aside from answering the question “why?”, they help you to decide what to do next and to differentiate the actions regarding customers’ needs.
To pick the right MA platform, you must establish what do you need the platform in a first place. Is it to build a buyer persona, or to automate bulk email campaign? To increase the conversion rate in your online store, or to declutter lead management process? Once you know that, start checking the rankings, like the one published each quarter by GetApp. Look for the additional benefits. Check USP of each vendor to learn what you’ll be able to do with a given platform. Also, check the educational offer - do they run live webinars? How many hours of support they have in a basic package? Are they available 24/7 with the technical support? Setting up those criteria will help you not only pick the most suitable product, but also reduce the cost of implementation – a huge part of it will be performed by the developer as an execution of a signed agreement.
So which one are you: team Quality or Quantity team ? Do you agree with the above statements? Share your thoughts!
Maja Kowalska - Lead Editor at SALESmanago, focused on helping her readers understand the shift that appeared in consumers' minds during the last 20 years. Maja is also a prolific blogger. She writes mostly about Ecommerce, Digital Marketing and market changes in general. You can follow her on Linkedin, Twitter.