Samantha Marsh is a marketing content coordinator at iDashboards, a data visualization software company on a mission to transform reporting into meaningful dashboards.
Data literacy is mastering the ability to use and communicate data. This post will explain how to improve your marketing team's data literacy, so they can tap into the value that data can provide.
Most marketers understand that data is important. It informs strategies, measures campaign success, and improves their understanding of customers. The challenge that many marketers face, however, is mastering the ability to understand, use, and communicate data effectively.
There’s a certain level of data literacy that is necessary to tap into all of the value that data can provide to your organization. In fact, data literacy is predicted to become the most important driver of business success over the next few decades. This post will guide you through the process of improving your marketing team’s data literacy, so you can reap the benefits that come along with a deeper knowledge and understanding of data.
1. Figure Out Where Knowledge Gaps Are
In a marketing department, everyone may be on a different page when it comes to working with data. It’s important to assess the confidence levels of each individual employee and see what data they are taking advantage of. There may be analytics tools that are available and would provide value, but nobody is aware of it or properly trained in how to use it.
Start by talking about your marketing department’s current data practice, and the roles that each team member plays in relation to metrics. Identify who has access to what data sources and who can identify the KPIs (and the underlying metrics that those KPIs are composed of).
Provide your employees with training sessions, articles, instructional videos, or other resources that can help them analyze the data that will help them succeed in their individual roles. With the proper training and access to data, they will become more confident in their ability to use data effectively.
When you are able to clearly define how this data training will directly impact your employee’s responsibilities, they are likely to become much more engaged and interested in the process. If a better understanding of data will help them make a more informed decision that will lead to a more successful campaign or a greater number of high-quality leads, then they know their commitment to data literacy is worth the time and effort.
2. Don’t Forget Your Tool Box
As excited as your marketing department may be to improve their data skills, getting started without the proper tools may cause more harm than good. Practice makes perfect when it comes to data literacy, but it’s important to practice the right way – by aggregating, managing, and visualizing your data before diving into analysis.
According to a survey by Adobe, the top 4 ways marketers are adding value are using CRM data, accessing real-time data from analytics, integrating analytics across channels, and data visualization.
After all, it isn’t very efficient to constantly toggle between data from multiple analytics tools, like Google Analytics, Google Ads, and Facebook Insights. That’s why it’s important to invest in a tool that will aggregate data from multiple sources and pull it together into one view. That way, you can effectively manage and visualize all of your metrics, while avoiding the time-intensive and error-prone practice of manually merging data.
Even when all of your data is aggregated in a single source, it’s important to organize it in a way that lends itself to analysis. Diving into raw, unfiltered, and disorganized data head-on can be overwhelming and confusing. Data visualization is the key to helping non-technical employees draw insights and take informed, decisive actions based off of data.
It simplifies the complexities of data and get to the heart of what numbers are important for making strategic business decisions. This will give you a richer understanding of what exactly your data is telling you. There are many great tools to help you create and host stunning visual representations of your marketing data.
3. Ask Questions of Your Data
Data literate marketers know that it’s not enough to just look at data; one must be looking for something. Do you want to know how a campaign has affected conversion rates? How about how a landing page optimization changed bounce rates? Effective marketers are able to think critically about their data and ask questions. Regardless of the exact query you may have of your data, these questions should get you started:
- What is the source of this data? – Don’t just accept the data in front of you at face value. If a number on a spreadsheet seems unbelievable, take a closer look at how and where the data was collected. Data can be out of context, incomplete, or insufficient to derive insights from. It’s important to make sure you aren’t wasting time and resources acting on incorrect information.
- What are the relationships in the data? – When you understand how and why your data is (or isn’t) related, it can help with decision-making. Visualization can help you answer this question, but you need to ensure that you are looking at your data in the right context. Context provides meaning and helps to identify areas of action. When you take information out of context or are unable to identify key patterns and correlations, data can lead you astray.
Once you find the answers to all of your data questions, you can get to the bottom of what exactly your data is telling you. All data tells a story, and marketers can use that story to support their strategies and make informed decisions.
Lights, Camera, Action
Once your marketing team is confident using and analyzing data, they can apply that knowledge in their day-to-day roles. These are just some of the ways you can use your customer and campaign data to make a positive impact:
- Customer affinity visualizations – 52% of consumers are likely to switch brands if a company doesn’t tailor communications to them, but you can only personalize effectively if you know who your customers are. Use data about who your audience is and what they like to determine the best strategies to engage with them. You can segment customers by their job title, devices they use, demographics, and pretty much any data that will help you craft a more personalized message and obtain a deeper understanding of what your customers want.
- Behavior flow diagrams – Take a look at how people are using your website. Following their clicks to determine behavior flows can help you figure out which content pieces are driving traffic and moving people through the funnel. That way, you can push your most persuasive and effective content to more people.
- Touchpoint interaction maps – In order to improve your customers’ experience with your brand, product, or service, you need to map out each touchpoint. It’s important to know when, where, and why an interaction takes place. This can help you pinpoint the exact moment that a message would be most effective. It also helps marketers identify areas of improvement and measure the impact those changes have on customer experience.
- Return-on-investment visualizations – With many marketing departments working to diversify their marketing mix, 68% say improving ROI measurability is the most important goal for their data management strategy. When you are able to effectively measure the pay-off of your marketing activities, you can improve efficiency by allocating time and resources behind the most important (and effective) channels, campaigns, and activities.
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