How To Be a Data-Driven Digital Marketer

Tips and tools data-driven digital marketers use to beat the competition

Being data-driven is, or at least should be, a requirement of all digital marketers at this point in time and for the foreseeable future.

Yet, the buzzword “data-driven” seems to offer the answer to all of your marketing questions, whether that’s…

  • How to get more customers
  • Where to find them
  • What they’re looking for
  • Or how to convince visitors that you have what they need

And while this all sounds great, it hasn’t been so easy to implement in practice.

Because marketing and advertising have been so deeply rooted in instinct and creativity, not everyone understands what it takes to switch gears and start thinking more like a scientist.

So what does it take to really become a data-driven digital marketer?

Well, you may not want to hear this, but it’s not exactly simple…

And unfortunately, most marketers still aren’t sure how to answer this question.

When only 0.5% of all data is successfully utilized, it’s clear that more education is necessary

So let’s give you the tips and tools you need to push through the confusion and get straight to the heart of what it means to be a data-driven digital marketer.

Stats to Remember

Before plunging into how you can be a data-driven marketer, it helps to know where the industry is moving.

The International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates that, based on current data, the number of business transactions on the internet will reach 450 billion per day.

So pair that number with the following: 57% of marketers who use data-driven marketing tactics saw revenue increases.

Honestly, it’s hard to understand how that number is only 57% and not much higher.

But regardless, there’s never been a better time to hone your skills, pick up some new tools, and increase your breadth of marketing data knowledge.

The Underlying Testing Method

Truly thinking like a data-driven digital marketer means thinking systematically.

So if you remember the scientific method from school, it’s a good time to recognize its merits.

The scientific method starts with asking questions that drill down to the heart of what you’re looking for.

After which, you can start brainstorming as to how to answer those questions before narrowing down your best guess.

You’ll then test your guess, affirm that the test was implemented correctly, and move onto analysis and results.

So, let’s say you want to grow your market share by 5%…

And you assume that you can do so by increasing your advertising to three new target demographics.

After implementing digital marketing efforts across the demographics, you find that your market share has only gone up 1%.

After confirming all other variables remained static, you conclude the new target demographics may not have enough interest to move your market share needle enough.

Exploring Different Marketing Channels

So how do you, as a digital marketer, apply the scientific method to your own efforts?

Well, data gives you a chance to see how your customers want to receive their communications.

Most marketers know that a text message is close to five times more likely to be read than an email (98% vs. 20%).

But what marketers may not understand is that this statistic doesn’t automatically make SMS a smarter strategy.

Furthermore, doing what everybody else is doing will only return a growth curve that actually doesn’t curve.

Instead, it will return a diagonal line.

What you really want is a growth curve that looks more like this…

data-driven digital marketing

So think about it, blogging isn’t going to get you anywhere if your blogs aren’t significantly better versions of your competitors.

However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be blogging, you probably should.

But blogging isn’t a strategy, it’s just something you know you should probably be doing.

And if you look at examples of how the most successful companies grew, you won’t find that they did what everyone else was doing.

Instead, they identified a channel that was working for them through trial and error and then exploited it for all it was worth.

But how will you find that channel?

Marketing Channel Frameworks

Before jumping into any marketing campaigns, you need to give serious consideration to all marketing channels – especially if you’re a young company/startup.

Even if you have zero data to go on, there are multiple frameworks to determine your best marketing channels.

And growing a customer base from nothing requires methods which are:

  • Analytical
  • Inexpensive
  • Creative, and
  • Innovative

So if you’re a startup or small business, take a look at these two frameworks to determine your quickest path to growth.

  1. The Bullseye Framework
  2. ICE – Impact Confidence Ease

You’ll use a data-driven approach to quickly run growth tests and identify what’s working and what’s not.

“Growth is the make or break metric for startups. Either they grow fast enough or they die. That’s the only metric that a growth marketer cares about”
– Neil Patel

The Right Data or No Data At All

As we’ve already learned, digital marketers only use a small percentage of their available data.

And one of the reasons behind that is that it’s easy to either exclude information or misinterpret it.

If your data isn’t accurate, you’re never going to get the results you need.

However, there are ways to get your hands on better analytic programs so you can pinpoint, isolate, and verify the information you need.

But before you start trying to make sense of all of your data, you should first identify your company’s primary metrics.

These are commonly referred to as key performance indicators (KPIs).

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Marketing Metrics and KPIs are measurable values used by marketing teams to demonstrate the effectiveness of campaigns across all marketing channels.

Whether you are looking to track digital marketing performance, SEO progress, or your social media growth, having measurable marketing metrics and KPIs set up can help your business reach targets month-over-month.

And you need to track your marketing goals with these marketing metrics and KPI examples.

The top KPIs for modern marketing teams consist of the following:

  • Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL)
  • Funnel Conversion Rates
  • Sales Qualified Leads (SQL)
  • Brand awareness
  • Customer engagement
  • Marketing spend per customer
  • Return on investment (ROI)
  • Lifetime value of a customer (LTV)
  • Customer acquisition cost (CAC)
  • Customer retention

So if you’re a strong digital marketer, and you’re mapping metrics to each stage of your funnel, you should gain some inspiration from the following image and SlideShare:

And as long as you choose metrics that will have the biggest impact on your company’s goals…

You will undoubtedly start to offer the impressive ROI you’re going for.

Building Your Marketing Stack

The data platforms of today make it easy to share information across teams, monitor daily operations, and provide the real-time analytics you need to see what’s working and what could use some adjustment.

And automation has become the name of the game when it comes to implementing data-driven practices.

So let’s quickly talk about some software that can get you started quickly.

data-driven digital marketing

Tools like Mixpanel integrate data-driven communication so you can automatically target the right customers.

In real-time, Google Analytics shows how people visiting your site are interacting with your landing pages, where they came from, and whether or not they’re converting.

AdEspresso allows you to optimize your Facebook and Google Ads, cutting through the long-term process of driving traffic organically.

CXMap allows you to visualize your customer journey from attribution to conversion, so you can easily see what campaigns and landing pages need attention.

Then there are ways to track all of your social media efforts from a single platform, such as Sprout Social.

And tools like HotJar or CrazyEgg allow you to record website visitors and users, create heat maps, and view how people are navigating your product and web-pages.

These kinds of platforms are exactly what marketers need to adjust the budget so you’re only spending company dollars on proven strategies.

A/B Testing

data-driven digital marketer

Hopefully, it’s safe to say that everyone reading this has at least heard of A/B testing.

But there are a lot of digital marketers who don’t utilize it.

Often times, this is because they feel they don’t have enough website traffic to test successfully.

And although there are ways to perform A/B testing on low traffic sites

If you do have enough site traffic, the time to start A/B testing was yesterday.

Set your goals and determine what to test

In A/B testing, the goals you set up for your experiment determine the metrics by which a variation is considered successful.

Popular goals measure significant actions such as completion of a sign-up form or placement of an order.

However, if your website only gets a few conversions a week, it will take a long time to determine with certainty which version is the winner

This is particularly true if the difference in conversion rate between the original and the variation is small.

For example, A/B testing can be done for fairly minimal changes, such as the color of a button.

However, when A/B testing high-impact changes, such as your website H1 tag or hero image, even low site traffic companies can learn a lot.

To know for sure, you’ll need to test the statistical significance and statistical confidence of each test with an A/B testing calculator.

data -driven digital marketing

Furthermore, you’ll want a confidence score of 95% or higher in order to make a clear decision.

This will ensure that your results are both accurate and repeatable.

And if you’re worried about having too low of site traffic to test, take a look at a sample size calculator.

This way you can check how many visitors would be required in each branch of a test to prove that the results have reached statistical significance.

On a side note, if you’re looking to increase your conversion rates and are looking for tips and tools, see this article: Increase Website Conversion Rates – Tips & Tools

Know Your Customers On a Data-Driven Level

If you’re not striving for something, you can end up drowning in the information you’ve been so busy gathering.

The first step is determining what kind of customer you’re looking for, and what exactly you want from a high-value customer.

So start by putting together your customer profiles.

data-driven digital marketing

Then, once you’ve set some hard goals, you can start developing your content to reach the buyer personas you hope to appeal to.

As you fold in data from your sales team, financial systems, and marketing metrics, you’ll start to see how you can better align those definitions to match your goals.

Much like big-data tools themselves, your marketing strategies need to be flexible enough to keep up with a changing customer base.

Marketing Reports

Weekly growth or marketing reports is something I highly recommend doing.

The goal of running these weekly growth meetings is:

  • Understand what campaigns are working and which are not
  • Decide how to take what you’ve learned from the data and apply it to your tasks for the current week
  • To be able to quickly pivot your marketing efforts and remain agile
  • And dedicate your resources to the efforts returning the highest ROI

I’ve personally created Excel spreadsheets that link up with Google Analytics, social accounts, and my company’s backend to auto-populate…

However, that takes a really long time.

Which I why I recommend using a tool such as Improvado.

With Improvado, you’ll be able to create different spreadsheets that auto-populate, making it super easy to report and analyze your marketing efforts.

One spreadsheet might look like this…

data-driven digital marketing

Clearly, this would look better with some data in it, but you get the point 🙂

Now if you don’t have the budget for a tool like Improvado, it’s not impossible to create a spreadsheet like this and update weekly by hand.

I’ve done it in the past, and it’s a good exercise which doesn’t take all that long.

At the very least, each week you should aim to report and provide context to your team for your company goals, campaigns, and KPIs.

You’ll also want to report on either week-over-week or month-over-month growth percentage.

And ideally, if you’re focused on true growth, you should aim for 10% week-over-week growth.

Retargeting Your Audience

Having data in front of you allows you to retarget the right audiences at the right time.

And retargeting is by far the easiest way to continuously fill your marketing funnel.

Let’s say a customer visits your site one time and looks at Product C.

As a marketer, you already know that a customer doesn’t want to be stalked online with your ads splashed across every other page they visit.

But if that same customer comes back a second time to look at Product C, you can use that data to retarget an appropriate ad for them.

For example, an ad that displays testimonials of how other customers enjoyed owning Product C.

Now, the customer is reminded of the product and given additional assurance that they would be making the right decision if they did choose to buy it.

However, there are a ton of different ways to utilize retargeting.

To get some great ideas on retargeting campaigns, check out this blog post which gives 25 tips from marketing experts

Data-Driven Customer Journey Maps

At CXMap, we were looking for a customer journey mapping software that provided all the data one would want along with it, but we couldn’t find anything.

So we built it ourselves 🙂

CXMap makes the customer journey mapping process effortless.

All you have to do is apply one line of code to your website, and you can literally build multiple customer journey maps in just minutes.

They have simple drag and drop boxes with all your landing pages, as well as your AdWords campaign, Facebook Ad campaign, email campaign etc. data immediately available to you.

data-driven digital marketing

Pretty cool, right?

Here’s what an example customer journey map looks like using CXMap’s platform when it’s applied to the SaaS industry…

customer journey maps

Note that there’s no data populated, which is why you see 0% on the conversion rates in blue text.

However, once you apply that one snippet of code to your website, all of that data will auto-populate itself.

Furthermore, there are other templates like this, for industries other than SaaS (like e-commerce) to get users started quickly.

And you can find those here: Customer Journey Map Templates | CXMap

Being a Data-Driven Digital Marketer

To get a clear picture of your marketing, you need data to drive your current and future decisions.

But even the best data and analysis can’t guarantee the success of your company.

Digital marketers have to be willing to constantly adjust and fine-tune their strategy while adding a human touch wherever possible.

In this way, data isn’t here to kill creativity and banish instinct, but rather provide proof to marketers about how well their hypotheses match up to real-world metrics.

Knowing the data behind the behavioral habits of your clients can ultimately translate into big profits much faster than you think.

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