With more data generated in the last 2 years than in the previous 20,000 combined, being data driven as a marketer is no longer AN option, it’s the ONLY option to drive successful strategies, content and campaigns!

Forbes reports that:

  • companies who adopt data-driven marketing are 6x more likely to be profitable year-over-year
  • 83% of marketers that exceeded their goals in 2017 were using personalisation

Types of data

The common types of data used in marketing can be categorised as ‘hard data’ – the data which seldom changes during your audience interaction, which includes data such as; email address, name, phone number etc. and ‘soft data’ which is data we collect on audience behaviour or engagement that is more likely constantly changing.

Although we need hard data to initiate contact, effective targeted communication is only enabled through collecting strategic soft data which can inform our strategy around what to say, when to say it and to who, in order to gain optimal engagement and greatest return on our efforts.

(See Triggerbee chart on data usefulness).

Knowing your audience

Creating personas is standard practice in ‘typing’ your audience and forming appropriate executable strategies to connect. Traditional persona creation utilised people focussed research such as interviews, focus groups, user testing and surveys to gather data on audience needs, how they fulfil their needs and any obstacles to doing so. The only trouble with this methodology, is that these personas don’t always keep pace with rapidly changing digital behaviour.

Data driven personas can be developed based on data from a wide range of sources including web analytics, social listening tools, online surveys, social media insights, online visitor tracker tools and reports from your CMS and CRM as to audience behaviour. In many cases it’s possible to integrate this data into your CRM to form an overall picture, and in some cases have marketing automation set to work off certain behavioural triggers.

With this more dynamic approach, you can track your audience behaviour, what they are interested in, researching, talking and posting about, along with establishing where they are coming from and what devices they are using in order to assess and align the appropriateness of your strategies (content, distribution etc) to be more audience-centric and therefore more likely to tell a story that resonates and will achieve ROI. This form of ongoing auto-analysis also helps us to be more dynamic in responding to changing patterns and trends, and in some cases, even empowering ourselves to predict them.

Making a wish list of things you’d like to know about your audience/membership is an important action point. Detailing what value that insight would bring in terms of what objectives it might help you to achieve will be helpful in focussing on the potential benefits. Then analysing which tools (existing or new) might help you to capture and process that data. Where you are proposing new tools, make sure that you detail the associated investment against potential ROI, you could also factor in the risks of not knowing that piece of information about your audience member and the potential impact on membership etc.

Using the Right Tools

Tools for gathering data

In order to take a data driven approach and realise greater ROI, marketeers need an appropriate set of tools. Where our audience includes those that connect with us on an ongoing basis and therefore have accounts with us (whether that’s for membership or as a customer) it’s important to have a website that’s integrated with our CRM and a correctly set up Google analytics account as a minimum. Other tools we’ve mentioned earlier in this article are worthy of consideration where you can prove the data you need can’t be collected through existing means (or where its inefficient to do so) and therefore the investment is warranted. I’ve listed some of our top tools below:

1. Fit for purpose CRM

Your CRM system needs to be fit for purpose, and you need to know how to utilise it effectively. If it’s not working for your organisation now, consider why that is, is it the processes not being appropriate, is it poor user adoption, inadequate training or is simply the wrong tool or poorly configured/implemented?

If you are tendering for a new system, don’t simply replicate, take the opportunity to do a robust analysis of your business processes, requirements and future plans. It’s a significant investment, so doing what you can to ensure its going to provide optimal value and move your organisation forwards is worth the effort.

Some CRM systems have associated business insight and predictive analytics tools to help decipher and analyse trends within your data which may be worth looking at how they could provide additional value.

It goes without saying that a seamless real-time integration between your website CMS and CRM is top priority to enable personalisation of the user experience and collection of data to inform ongoing strategy.

2. Integrated website
Understanding how your audience use your website can be achieved in a number of different ways. Your CMS might be able to capture some information, Google Analytics can certainly build a picture of goals, dwell time, where people are coming from and going to, which areas they are spending time on or bouncing off etc.

The NetXtra CMS can be set up to feed information into whichever CRM it is connected to on logged-in user behaviour including documenting their log-ins and engagement such as event bookings, downloads etc. This information can augment the data you already hold on them in the CRM, forming the basis of intelligent reports and helping to form an accurate picture of behaviour. You can respond to this user intel in a more dynamic way providing a more personalised experience through the website content delivery being tailored to their interests, needs and specialisms, enhancing content to increase your ‘stickiness’.

3. Website visitor tracking tools
Whilst the integrated website enables you to track logged-in user behaviour, where you don’t have that login identifier, having a tool that enables you to monitor who’s looking at what on your website using IP address can be really helpful, especially in the case of those organisations working with corporate membership or a B2B audience.

More sophisticated visitor tracker tools can connect with your CRM, populating it with new ‘lead’ data, and augmenting data on repeat visitor behaviour. Specific pages can be assigned a score depending on how you class the reflection on intent to engage, and subsequently alerts set to notify you of certain score levels being reached, for example, where relevant current or prospective members have been engaging with certain pieces of content, for example looking at a course they might like to take or event they might like to attend. This helps to identify where real intent has been demonstrated and a phone call might be well received (resulting in a potential conversion!).

4. Email marketing
Most mass emailing platforms provide some kind of reporting ability, where you can gauge engagement, such as open and click through rates to gain useful insights.
According to a McKinsey & Company study, email marketing is up to 40 times more effective than social media, and statistics show that you are 6 x more likely to get a click-through from an email campaign than from a tweet (Campaign Monitor).

Segmenting your list, creating subscriber groups based on different traits and tailoring content specifically to that audience’s interests yields significantly better results. According to a study from Campaign Monitor, marketers have seen a 760% increase in revenue from segmented email campaigns and personalised email messages improve click-through rates by an average of 14% and conversions by 10% (Aberdeen).

Resending campaigns to those who didn’t open on the first send has also been proven to double open rates (for the lucky ones!), a sneaky trick here is to insert ‘Re:’ in the subject line and potentially a quick one liner about the value of resending it.

Where using an integrated CRM and CMS it should also be possible to automate action-triggered emails, where a user undertakes a certain activity and receive an email as a result. According to Experian, emails triggered by actions have 8x more opens.

5. Mobile Apps
NetXtra have developed mobile app technology which integrates with your CMS and CRM to enable the automation of content relevant to the user being delivered. In turn the tool feeds data on their behaviour back into the CRM to augment our understanding of them (and increase their engagement score, where that metric is in use). This data enables you to enrich your connection with them and engage with immediacy where that is a relevant action.

In the instance of our client the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, this includes being able to send push notifications to gain thumbprint signatures for petitions and votes. Another benefit of a member engagement app is that you can extend its core functionality with tools tailored to your audiences profession and needs which increase the perceived value of membership on an ongoing basis.

6. Social Media 
Whilst social media is a powerful tool for broadcast (and largely without charge at the base level) it can be a waste where not used strategically. It’s worth considering which is the appropriate tool for the job at hand and how is it best optimised. When it comes to your social media channels, analyse which audience segments are where and adjust your strategy accordingly, broadcasting appropriate messages on relevant channels. By segmenting your data according to interests, behaviour patterns and where your audience are commonly found (i.e. which social media channel) you can market in ways they are more likely to identify with.

Sprout social have done some useful demographic research on this, breaking down social audiences for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat by gender, age, location, income and education. It’s well worth a read for those considering the value of Social in their strategy.