Data is King: Or why it is that what we do isn’t as creative as you think.

The Hollywood image of marketers is Don Draper. Sleek, creative types who spend most the day  drinking with clients or in their offices brainstorming taglines between ‘naps’ on the casting coach. I wonder if 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 1960’s that was more difficult and expensive to obtain. In 2016, 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.

So how can small businesses make the most of data-driven marketing?

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 basic information about your website visitors and all major social media channels collect information about users too. 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 geographic location of your users can be enlightening. Are you considering taking your sales global? Do you have a customer base upon which to build? Spring Insight’s marketing team would be happy to set up a customized dashboard for your business as part of your on-going marketing strategy package.

Example of Spring Insight Dashboard

An example of a dashboard Spring Insight uses to monitor our clients data daily.

Strategy #2: Ask for even more information.

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 marketing trends in one channel 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 (Instagram? Snapchat?). 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 a 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 CTR’s 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: Think of success as a series of baby-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 CTR’s are hovering around 1%, don’t except any one campaign to suddenly make them jump to 10%. Focus instead on incremental improvements. And 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.

How do you use data to create marketing campaigns for your business? Join the discussion on social media (TwitterGoogle+, or Facebook).