How Online Marketers Can Best Leverage Consumer Data

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Social media, email campaigns, mobile marketing—these are the big internet marketing areas which have been drawing attention from experts for years now. And every year they’re getting more popular. However, a chasm continues to exist within them. Customer engagement is, of course, just as important as ever within the marketing realm but both timely and relevant campaigns have been challenging with online marketing. Specifically, online marketers claim that their access to high quality and holistic data is to blame

The 2014 Marketing Trends Survey compliments of StrongView recently revealed the biggest obstacle for online marketers and the sheer volume of big data (along with the inability to properly analyze it) topped the list. Basically, marketers have more data at their fingertips than ever, but actually leveraging it in a way that matters is nearly impossible. While everyone is streamlining their search engine optimization (SEO) efforts, video marketing is being perfected and everyone’s getting fluent in WordPress, marketing is still falling short.

Correcting past errors

The survey revealed that 93 percent of marketers have a plan to either maintain or increase their marketing budgets going into 2014. Last year, 89 percent of people said this was the plan. In particular, display marketing, social media marketing, search marketing, email marketing and mobile marketing are the targets. Every industry from refrigerator retailers to custom wheel refurbishers know where their efforts should be focused, but they struggle to optimize it.

StrongView’s VP of marketing, Shawn Myers, says, “While we saw a strong desire to engage with customers at a more personal and meaningful level in our survey this year, marketers remain hampered and frustrated by an inability to access and leverage all the data being generated by a growing number of marketing channels. Effectively engaging customers with what we call ‘Present Tense Marketing’ requires an in-depth understanding of the customer’s context at a particular moment in time, and that can only be achieved with the strategic use of all available data.”

Developing a POA

A plan of action is the most important step for any marketing company. According to the survey, 40 percent of respondents said getting and leveraging data is the biggest challenge in email marketing because 36 percent didn’t have the right resources and 32 percent needed to create better engagement. In total, 44 percent want to improve overall engagement, 36 percent want to up their targeting, and 31 percent want to increase their opt-in lists. Of the 93 percent who want to “increase or maintain” their marketing budget, 46 percent specifically want to increase the funds—52 percent want to specifically up email marketing, 46 percent social media marketing budgets, 41 percent are focused on search and 36 percent on display.

Additionally, 59 percent want to integrate their email and social campaigns, 55 percent are focusing on mobile engagement, 23 percent on display, and a whopping 57 percent are targeting the email lifecycle to optimize loyalty. Unsurprisingly, when it comes to which social media platform gets the most attention, Facebook wins with 55 percent and LinkedIn comes in second with 18 percent (Twitter came trailing in at the end, but with SM platform favors shifting, this might be another glaring error marketers are making). When it comes to which aspects of leveraging data is most challenging, 22 percent cite quality but 15 percent admit their own lack of strategy is to blame. Actually using big data in internet marketing can be customized to impact web behavior, shopping behavior and customer sentiment—the big top three for respondents.

Taking the next steps

So what can online marketers do to make the most of big data? Drive the movement with data and start by having the right analytics on deck, assign key metrics to specific marketing department staff and clarify benchmarks now. Metrics-driven goals give clear indication of success and failure, and make sure all marketing decisions are backed with the data. Of course, a rewards system for the high achievers is important, and content creation should always have data as the driving force, too.

Make sure you know what you want the big data to let you do, whether it’s upping the target of marketing offers, aligning marketing with sales goals, or just getting insight into how those digital marketing campaigns are working (or not). Most importantly, keep in mind that old school fundamentals are the same, but they’re just being accessed in a new way.

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