4 Steps to Drive Revenue with Data-Driven Marketing

Though widely accepted as important, data-first marketing or data-driven marketing can be nebulous when it comes to implementation. Marketers can cut through the fog by truly understanding the state of their data, utilizing the right Martech tools to manage data, and continuously prioritizing data quality and hygiene as strategic objectives.

by Inga Romanoff, Romanoff Consultants

This article was originally posted on MarTech Advisor

Building great customer relationships is a process of nurturing, developing, and getting to know who they are. From a recent Marketo study of over 3,000 consumers, 83% of respondents felt that companies will find a way to market to them, around privacy regulations even if they have said “no” to marketing.

So, how does “putting the customer first” really work? Companies like Amazon and Google tout this mantra as the guiding principle for business success. But how do you actually put “customer obsession” into practice? How can marketers connect better with their audience by being customer-centric? There’s a simple but not easy answer—start with data.

Data-first marketing, or data-driven marketing refers to the practice of driving strategic marketing decisions and optimizing programs and campaigns based on data. Utilizing practical and reliable data in business decision-making will help you to know your customer better, improve targeting and segmentation, and raise the efficacy of your messaging to drive impactful results.

As Peter Bell of Marketo says, “No one wants to be marketed to. If you give me a checkbox on a form and say, ‘do you want to be marketed to?’, I wouldn’t check that box. But if it said, would you like us to ‘engage’ you on things you’re interested in? I’d go with a Yes, as everyone wants to be engaged in things that are interesting to them.” The key to finding things that are interesting and useful to your prospects and customers lies in data.

In this blog post, we offer practical tips on how to get started with data-first marketing.

1) Become Informed About Your Databases

The first step is to take stock of your current data position and status. Consider assessing your current state in order to set a realistic roadmap from current to overall goals for the future.

Typical businesses will have over 10 platforms storing data about their customers and business processes. Here are some of the most common.

Customer Relationship Management System (CRM)

CRM is often the customer data source of truth as it holds most of the revenue data, including opportunities, new deals and renewals. This platform is the primary interface in which your salespeople store accounts, contacts, leads, cases and more. In addition, the CRM stores activities and events (such as, sales calls) that provide insights into customer behavior.

Marketing Systems

Marketing systems such as, a marketing automation platform, email service provider (ESP), and an array of advertising technologies help execute marketing campaigns. Ideally, they integrate with CRM and you are able to cross-reference prospect and customer data to get a 360-degree view of your customer. Inevitably, a marketing system will be the only place to track customer engagement activity not directly related to sales deals. Information such as, website activity, email marketing, campaign engagement, and advertising performance all live within the marketing systems.

Data Warehouse/ERP Systems

Product usage and fulfillment information is often sent to and stored in your primary data warehouse, which acts as a central repository for customer data. The data sources that make up the different inputs into the data warehouse can range from financial applications, operations platforms, purchasing systems, sales and marketing systems, with the data being standardized and cleansed to be in a usable format for its users. The value of this data lies in finding out how customers are buying or using your products and services, as well as pertinent details about them.

Martech and Business Tools and Apps

Today, most companies use a variety of marketing and business process tools to optimize operations and customer experiences. While a system like the marketing automation platform is generally the primary system of record, many tools can be bolted on via integrations to go deeper in certain areas. These include social advertising, web personalization, data enrichment, account-based marketing (ABM), and more. Martech platforms can greatly increase efficiency and effectiveness of your overall technology stack, though it may complicate the overall tech stack and it can get difficult to manage multiple, disparate components.

Business Intelligence (BI), Data Visualization, Reporting and Analytics Tools

While the data warehouse can store data from all the different data sources, reporting and analytics tools are still needed to format and visualize data so that marketers can draw out insights. Whether you are seeking broad trends or granular details, it strongly benefits humans to see data visually in different formats to contrast and uncover actionable intelligence. For example, a paid advertising analyst might like to deep-dive on ad campaigns, while an executive will seek high-level campaign performance insights and a breakdown of marketing attribution.

2) Evaluate Your MarTech Stack

The different components of your marketing technology stack can be a mess, or they can be the building blocks of your go-to-market success. One enterprise marketing leader puts it this way: “The technologies in your Martech stack are like instruments in an orchestra. The more instruments you have, the more powerful your music can be, but only if they are organized and conducted with purpose.”

To effectively conduct your Martech stack optimization, create a flow chart or diagram illustrating the connection between all the different systems, sources and direction of the data flows, and which data synchronizes between them. Ask the hard questions—what does this tool do? do we really need it?

Is there enough innovation?

As the advancement of technology remains ever-forward, it becomes easier to find pre-built solutions that will solve the most pressing business problems. Create a list for each of your business need categories: strategy and planning, marketing, sales, customer service and customer experience.

How would you rate your technology stack in each area? One weak link can undermine the entire chain of connected business processes. If you rate yourself as poor on any of these areas, search out new and reliable solutions that can quickly and affordably make these areas better.

Sales and Marketing Platforms

Your sales and marketing teams need to be empowered to connect effectively with current and potential customers. In addition to a CRM, salespeople should have email and phone outreach tools, social selling applications, and a steady flow of meaningful and timely prospecting data to engage new business. Marketers should have the tools they need to create compelling marketing campaigns on all channels such as, email, video, online advertising, social media and more. There are plenty of platforms available to help create, deploy, manage, and report high-level insights or deep drill down data around marketing initiatives.

Customer Success and Customer Experience

To compete in today’s crowded marketplace, companies should consider focusing on customer service and customer experience in addition to attracting and converting customers. That means that account managers should be able to quickly and easily resolve customer support cases, and have all data at their fingertips to help grow customer business. Additionally, modern customer experience standards imply that brands provide support from all angles, starting from the first web visit all the way to when and how they use their products or services

3) Don’t Rely on Interns to Make Data Decisions

The cost of dirty data is high – it can result in lost opportunities and ineffective marketing. Elliott Lowe of RingLead shares, “Accurate and complete data is critical for segmenting and personalizing communications, which are essential for boosting engagement and conversion rates.”

Marketers with data background would note that proper data hygiene comes in two key parts—ensuring complete and accurate data records, and regularly cleansing and de-duplicating the database. If records are missing key information, it’s easy to draw incorrect conclusions. Problems will continue to arise until the root cause is identified and resolved. For answers, examine lead capture points and any integrations that may be collecting and passing data. Improving data quality can immediately improve your overall marketing performance, and clue you into which campaigns are missing the mark.

Of course, you can bring interns or any team members to execute parts of your data projects; however, you must ensure that projects are designed and decisions are made by a well-trained data-centric team. There is always a cost to bad data, but without proper measures, a company may lose business or even run into problems with privacy regulations, such as, GDPR, CASL, or industry-specific legislation.

4) Data Quality is Not an Accident, It Requires Continuous Optimization

Making sure that you are continuously improving and cleaning your data can make all the difference. “You can always improve something about your data,” Elliott Lowe reminds us. “You can increase the accuracy of your data, format it better, store and organize it more efficiently so that your reports run faster—in addition you can find new and different ways to display your data so that you can draw fresh or hidden insights that you haven’t seen before.”

Build in periodic strategy meetings to evaluate and answer the key questions:

  • Do we have a map for all systems storing customer and prospect data including lead capture sources?
  • What are our database health parameters? If metrics are sub-par, how can we improve them?
  • Do we have the right tools and process in place to support all important aspects of business and marketing operations?
  • Are there any integrations that require optimization?
  • What can be done to improve lead or data acquisition processes?
  • Do we have the right talent in place to support ongoing data marketing initiatives and is there any need for additional training?

Beyond the practical application of data quality initiatives, a data-first approach is truly an opportunity to be better marketers. We have powerful technologies at our fingertips, we can craft continuous conversations with our prospects and customers, and meet them on different channels on their terms. By using data to power the technology intelligently, we earn our customers’ trust and build authentic, long lasting relationships that cut through the noise and drive sustainable revenue for the company.