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Data-Driven Marketing: Why What We Do Isn’t As Creative As You Think

The Hollywood image of marketers is Don Draper. Sleek, creative types who spend most of the day drinking with clients or in their offices brainstorming taglines between ‘naps’ on the casting couch. I wonder if the marketing was ever really that glamorous. In today’s world, I can attest that marketing is a bit more mundane. Don’t get me wrong, there is space for creativity, but there’s also a lot more left-brain activity involved, especially behind the scenes.

The fact is that good marketing depends on having good raw data. In the 1960s that was more difficult and expensive to obtain. Now, though, there is a title wave of data available to you about all of your marketing activities. This is great news for small business owners because you have tons of access to information about your customers and you don’t have to be Don-Draper-creative to take advantage of that information. The trick is getting the right data without drowning.

How Can Small Businesses Implement Data-Driven Marketing?

Analyzing and working with data can be intimidating for some, especially if you’ve got a million other things on your plate like any successful small business owner. But while intimidating, data-driven marketing is still an important avenue to get the results you want, like increased sales and web traffic. The following are some strategies our team imploys with both our own marketing campaigns and those of our clients.

Sample KPI Dashboard

Strategy #1: Look at the Data You’re Collecting.

First things first, look at the data you’re collecting. If you thought the first step would be collecting data, you might want to spend more time getting to know your website or other platforms where you post information. Google collects a wealth of information about your who is visiting your website and what they’re doing when they get there. So much data that you could easily get lost in it. So, access the information and start using it to your advantage.


If you aren’t using a dashboard to track your marketing campaigns, you are missing out on an important resource too. Just take a look at this dashboard Spring Insight created for a client. See how certain types of data just jump out at you? Even something as simple as the pages your visitors are viewing can be enlightening. Are the pages you thought would be popular gaining traction or not? Spring Insight’s marketing team would be happy to set up a customized dashboard for your business as part of your ongoing marketing strategy package.

Strategy #2: Ask for Even More Data.

There is so much information out there that sometimes it seems overwhelming to ask for even more, but there is nothing like a survey to get the kind of pointed, usable information you need to guide your strategy.  We recently gathered some really insightful information this way for a client using Survey Monkey. While some of the information we learned was just what we expected, other responses really opened our eyes.

Strategy #3: Use Data Trends to Inform Marketing for Other Channels.

One of the hardest parts about creating successful marketing campaigns is figuring out whether it’s worth it to branch out to a new channel. It can feel risky to spend time, energy, and money advertising someplace new when you already have proven engagement, conversion, and retention in other channels (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn). Fortunately, trends on one channel make it likely that you won’t be starting with a totally blank slate. If you’re getting traction with your marketing on one channel, think about how to translate that to a different channel.

Remember that there are multiple ways to use data for marketing. You can use click-through rates to help determine what keywords users are likely searching to find your business, then use this information to create content with those keywords. If you had a good response to one piece of marketing collateral, sit down with your team and discuss why it was successful. Be confident in what you know about your customers and don’t be afraid to try something new.

Strategy #4: Success from Data-Driven Marketing Comes in Steps. Use failure as a Guide.

The great thing about digital marketing is that you can change it so easily. That means you can look at success and failure totally differently. All of your communications are simply little steps toward a larger goal. If your click-through rates are hovering around 1%, don’t expect any one campaign to suddenly make them jump to 10%. Focus instead on incremental improvements.

When you’ve achieved your goals and the sales funnel is full, this is not the time to back off of making improvements. There’s always room for optimization. One of the best things about data-driven marketing is that so much of the process is automated. Getting into a groove can be as easy as setting aside a couple of hours each month to focus on stats and strategy for future marketing.