|Do brands spend too long analysing data instead of using it?
Businesses devote considerable resources to gathering data on their target audience. In this digital multi-platform age, it’s seen as the key to communicating with them effectively and engaging with people in the right way at the right time. No wonder then that items such as USB flash drives and mousemats are seen as effective corporate and promotional gifts. But is there a risk that firms are spending so long actually collecting and interpreting the data that they aren’t actually using it as well as they could?
It was a point raised recently by Stan Sthanunathan, Senior Vice President, Consumer and Market Insights at Unilever, who said organisations are “hoarding information” at a time when “real-time is the new currency.” Speaking at the Market Research Society’s Impact 2016 event, he said this means that acting fast is the key to getting the best results.
What then should brands do in order to get the most out of their data and ensure it works for them at the right times?
Listen to social media conversations
People can be extremely candid and open on social media and online forums, so it pays to follow and even participate in those discussions that relate to your brand. Such openness and honesty might not always invite what you want to hear, but you’ll find out things you need to hear. What are you doing well and where could you do better? These insights can be invaluable to your future marketing and wider business activities.
Use technology that can offer insights
Everything from SMS-based campaigns to artificial intelligence technology can offer insights into customers’ behaviour patterns, tastes and preferences. As Mr Sthanunathan noted, technology has not yet reached the point where it will take over people’s lives, but it is set to become a much bigger feature of them. “Technology will become the tail that wags the dog,” he said. So set up campaigns that leverage technology to garner useful insights – and help them along by incentivising people to get on board and share information. Rewarding participants or competition winners with accessories that make their tech experience a little easier – such as headphones or speakers bearing your logo – could encourage them to reveal more useful insights.
Carry out data audits
Pete Jakob, Managing Director of marketing consultancy Purple Salix Limited, recently warned that many businesses are adopting marketing automation platforms without first examining the quality of the data they already have. This can invite problems, as it means unnecessary and outdated information could skew marketing and wider business decisions, while some data could be duplicated pointlessly. An audit can therefore ensure that any marketing automation starts from a solid base. This should be an ongoing process – carried out at least once every 12 months, or outdated or irrelevant data could continue to lead your business down the wrong path.
Identify why you want certain pieces of data
With every additional field on a form, the chances of them not being filled in correctly – or even at all – grows. The aim therefore should be to capture information you are confident will add value to your business. By understanding why you want certain data and knowing how you wish to use it, you can gather information in a far more targeted and less wasteful way.
Share data across the company
It’s easy for different departments of a firm to work in isolation, so cut out wasted time and resources where possible by sharing all relevant information across the board. Your sales or finance people, for instance, could have data that could be extremely useful for your marketing function, and vice versa. By sharing information in this way, your entire brand offering can become more coherent, timely, engaging and compelling.
Don’t obsess over large sample sizes
It’s easy for brands to focus so heavily on gathering large quantities of data that they don’t know where to stop. But this isn’t always necessary, as some campaigns and marketing drives might be focused on a fairly limited niche or small target audience. It’s therefore a waste to gather too much information almost for the sake of it that won’t actually add value to what you are doing. And as Mr Sthanunathan of Unilever points out, marketers “mustn’t underestimate the Power of One – it’s not always about large sample sizes but about influencers.”
And finally, remember not to sit on data for so long that it stops being useful to you. Audiences demand and expect speedy, timely and relevant interactions – and this is much easier to achieve if you’ve devised an effective and efficient data gathering strategy.
Sources / Further Reading
A data revolution is coming, says Unilever’s insights chief Marketing
Six tips to transform data into leads B2B Marketing