The Internet is full of common-sense ideas about marketing these days. Everyone has advice about the best way to market your business, from your mom to your neighbor to that guy who just started working over in Accounting (sorry, Accounting Guy; no hard feelings).
Marketing is a profession full of creative people doing creative things, so it’s natural to imagine that every idea that seems sufficiently creative is a great idea. But is it? Without a data-driven strategy to tell you what and how to get going, that brilliant content that’s sure to go viral might instead just go the way of the dodo.
What Can Data Do For You?
It turns out that common sense is notoriously unreliable. We human beings have a lot of things to recommend us, but it turns out that our decision-making is terrible most of the time. We’re influenced by everything from how well we slept last night to who we sat next to on the subway. And the worst part is, we’re usually not even aware of it! Good data protect us from our own biases and can sometimes tell us surprising things. An inbound marketing strategy--in fact, any kind of marketing strategy--is only ever as good as the data behind it.
Find Hidden Gaps
Gathering data--who downloads your content, what time people interact with your Facebook posts, what form fields people never seem to want to fill out honestly--can help you identify hidden gaps in your understanding of your audience. The more you know, the more accurately you can target your marketing to the real people who are out there. The more accurate your aim, the more likely the bull’s eye.
Break Through the Blahs
Out of ideas? Sometimes the creativity tap just seems to dry up. Don’t lose hope; go back and review what you really know. Look at your blog posts, your landing pages, your social media posts and find out, by the numbers, what is really working. Let this be your inspiration for new offers and build on a foundation of success.
Cut Out the Guesswork
Most importantly, with good data you can stop guessing about whether your marketing is working and where it should go next. Don’t let anybody tell you that marketing success can’t be measured. It might take a while to see a trend, you might have to try a few times before you figure out the right metrics to track, but good data will tell you on a daily basis how you’re doing. Page performance metrics, A/B testing results, conversion rates--we don’t talk about these for fun. Ok, well, maybe we do a little, but we mostly talk about them because they tell us what to keep doing, what to stop doing, where it’s safe to experiment, and whether Accounting Guy’s idea turned out to be a winner.
You don’t make financial decisions without forecasts, projections, and revenue reports. Don’t let the creative trappings fool you; marketing decisions can and should be just as reliant on the facts as any other part of your business strategy.How does has data impacted your marketing decisions? Let us know by tweeting at us at @smartbugmedia.