As of today, there is more data available than ever before. The same will be true tomorrow, and the next day. That’s because, right now, we generate more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day and it’s only set to increase.
That might mean it is now easier than ever for businesses to collect useful information about current and potential customers, but that information alone won’t increase your business’ revenue or, vitally, the success of any marketing strategy.
Though organisations that use research and data to shape their strategies are three times more likely to report improvements in the efficacy of their decision-making, only about 25% of businesses are actually implanting data-driven marketing. Even fewer are doing it well.
So how do you stand out in that crowd? It all starts with targeted research and thoughtful handling of data. Building a strategy around the information you’re able to collect from your audience allows you to better predict, and so shape, customer behaviour, while building on new learnings along the way. To do that well, customer data must be sought out with intention, processed effectively and implemented throughout your organisation. As you might expect, the first step is…
Research As with any data-led decision, research is key. It happens to be something we’re experts in at DRPG as our dedicated Research & Insights team regularly conduct in-depth research on behalf of brands and businesses. One of their top tips? Define your goal before you start digging around for data. That way, you’ll be able to assess what sort of information you need to look for to quickly uncover any gaps in your available data.
Collect Once you know what you’re looking for, it’s time to start collecting data. Often, this begins by asking two questions: Which data is needed in order to understand the user and their decision-making process? Which data sources are available and relevant? This will narrow your scope and make filtering that mass of information a little simpler. Collect as much relevant information as possible to build a true picture of your audience and their behaviours.
Compile Transform big data (that means big strings of unstructured and essentially unusable information) into smart data that works for you. Just as the name suggests, smart data makes sense. It comprises patterns and behaviours, and delivers insight extracted from your raw, big data. This is perhaps the most exciting step in your route to a truly research-led strategy, as it is here that you learn what your audience is talking about, what their individual motivations are, and how to bring them all on this journey with you.
Strategise It’s from this that you do the work of building your core strategy. As is the case even when driven by a hunch or habit rather than research, this should take into account your defined goals and KPIs. Look to where the greatest opportunities lie and establish how your accumulated research can help to overcome any obstacles in the way. Essentially, build your strategy around the data, not the other way around.
Share It may seem obvious, but this is an incredibly important step and one that often gets missed. The nature of data-gathering and research means that much of this valuable information ends up siloed with the department that originally collected or investigated it. Though 81% of businesses believe data should be at the centre of everything, many still keep data siloed and simply fail to share. So, share your strategy across the whole business and ask for input where you can. It’ll pay off in the long-term and will likely make the job easier next time round.
Measure We say it all the time: if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. As with any strategy, recording your successes, and failures, leads to improvement. Setting clear objectives way back at the ‘Research’ stage and later at the ‘Strategise’ stage makes this a little easier, but you need to make sure you’re checking progress against objectives regularly. Then, you’ll find opportunities to adapt, and, using data, can further personalise your strategy to your audience.
It’s all too easy to get bogged down in the complexities of working with extensive research or large strings of data, but there is absolutely no question that it pays off. When you know more about your audience, whether that’s potential customers, existing clients or even your own colleagues, communicating with them effectively becomes a lot simpler. And with that comes higher engagement, valuable interactions and, ultimately, increased revenue. These six simple steps should help you get there.
If you’re struggling to see how research could help shape your strategies, or you’d rather hand the whole project over to the experts, chat with our specialised Research & Insights team. We can’t wait to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.