With the growth of big data, alongside ever-increasing access to customer information, marketers are being increasingly challenged to use this data to implement data-driven marketing initiatives. At a basic level, data-driven marketing can be defined as strategies built on insights pulled from the analysis of big data, collected through consumer interactions and engagements, to form predictions about future behaviours.

For businesses, this involves understanding the data they have and can get, alongside other factors such as how to organise, analyse and apply that data to better marketing efforts. The end goal is, of course, to enhance and personalise the customer experience.

However, the concept differs greatly from the actual practice. The challenge for marketers is that consumer data comes from a variety of sources; from surveying consumers directly, to secondary sources often including social media, web browsing, search behaviour, or even measured device preference.

With countless sources available, the sheer volume of data marketing teams have access to can be overwhelming. However, marketers know they must get to grips with data-driven initiatives as they are currently the most effective and efficient way to create relevant and personalised content that will resonate with customers and prospects.

Knowing where to start can often be a struggle for marketers as they enter this new phase of marketing, so here are the key factors to consider when beginning, or even continuing on, a data-driven marketing journey.

  1. Planning is critical

    Change can be difficult, no matter how large or small an organisation may be; incorporating a data-driven marketing plan is no exception. From top to bottom, there must be a commitment to seeing this strategy succeed. Companies must commit the time and resources necessary to see it through. It’s incredibly difficult to develop a well-defined path forward, without putting in the time.

  2. Consider the importance of integration and automation

    As mentioned above, the sheer volume of data that customers produce every day can be overwhelming for even the most robust marketing teams to collect, much less effectively analyse. Without successful data integration, marketers won’t have the appropriate data required for a unified customer view.

    Often, retailers have the added challenge of integrating data from brick-and-mortar locations with their customers’ social media and mobile shopping behaviour.

    However, by implementing new marketing automation tools and technology into their strategies, marketers can spend less time searching and combing through data, and more time using the results to refine and create high-level, personalised marketing campaigns.

  3. Have the best team in place

    When it comes to data, the specific technical skills required can make it difficult to find the best talent. Teams should also be cross-departmental and cross-disciplinary in nature. This doesn’t mean finding an IT team member who has some availability, and pairing them with someone from sales or marketing to develop a data-driven plan to move forward.

    It means finding people who are willing to think at an enterprise level and go beyond their area of expertise. Teams will require data scientists who specialise in predictive analytics or audience amplification. They will also need sales and marketing people who are willing to learn more about IT. This level of collaboration is a necessity for success across the board.

  4. Collaborate for better results

    Creating cross-departmental teams is one area of opportunity; another is ensuring data is shared and works across the organisation. Having high-quality and integrated data is critical to the successful implementation of data-driven marketing, and that’s no easy task.

    Different organisational departments will collect data effectively, but will use that data for business goals that contradict one another. Marketers must ensure that information is shared across departments and teams, but it is equally important that the top-level business goals are also aligned.

  5. Watch the market … and your competitors

    While minding one’s own business may be a solid adage for day-to-day life, when it comes to data-driven marketing, it’s a huge mistake.

    Brands should watch how competitors implement their strategies, and then find ways to make aspects work for them, or learn from others’ mistakes. Marketers should also take on the role of staying up-to-date with the latest trends and changes in data-driven marketing to help their own brand’s strategy.

  6. Measure, optimise, then measure again

    One of the major benefits to data-driven marketing is the ability to continuously and accurately measure marketing campaign results. By following the path laid out above, brands will already have the tools and framework in place to analyse new data as it comes, and quickly measure campaign impact.

    Marketers can learn what is most, or least, effective, and pivot, optimise and experiment accordingly. This will allow teams to target the right audience, by providing personalised content that will resonate with them.

While there is still a lot to learn about customers and the data they provide every day, marketers must implement strong, data-driven marketing plans to better understand the needs and changing desires of their customers.

Predictive and artificial intelligence marketing solutions will give marketers the foundation required to make data-driven decisions, and will become an essential part of successful marketing campaigns.