Remember the days of old when you would walk in to the office mail room and gaze upon rows and rows of mailboxes, all holding the same piece of non-targeted, and irrelevant direct mail pieces? CEO or Intern, some data-deprived Marketer or Sales rep thought you would be interested in attending that conference or have interest in implementing a new auto dialer. Meanwhile, that conference was unrelated to your role and you’re thinking “Auto what?” It was an Oprah-esque giveaway; you get a piece of mail! You get a piece of mail! You get a piece of mail!
Back then it was commonplace for Sales and Marketing professionals to flood an uninterested audience with an irrelevant message. Even worse, there were very few available metrics surrounding message/offer effectiveness, ROI, or sales efficiency. Who was responding to what message? Are the results accurate? What other factors contributed to the result? Mr. or Ms. Marketer had little to no access to meaningful data to measure whether their campaigns actually worked and why. What they could obtain offered a far from holistic picture that was even more difficult to share amongst others with a high level of confidence.
As technology changed, new tools were introduced, and delivery methods morphed into email, social, display, ad networks, and beyond, many of these problems were alleviated. With the introduction of tools like Salesforce.com, Google Analytics, Eloqua, BlueKai, as well as Social Monitoring platforms and outbound calling programs, Sales and Marketing professionals were able to not only tailor their campaigns more effectively, but also track campaign efficiency and sales activity truthfully. However, with more advanced and robust tracking tools, the amount of data organizations gather and maintain throughout a customer’s life cycle has grown substantially.
And now we have a new problem, as accessing these massive amounts of data, blending it, and making sense of it can be quite challenging.
Here are 5 tips to get the most out of your sales and marketing data:
Know the Good, the Bad, and the…Well, it Depends
Having access to massive amounts of data about your prospects, customers, and how they interact with your company can be hugely beneficial. Not only can it keep you competitive, but data-driven decisions can drive your business forward. However, if you don’t know what results and metrics constitute success and which constitute failure, how can you ever take action on those insights? Getting a handle on what your key performance indicators are and what the benchmarks are for your organization is a good place to start. Keep in mind benchmarks can vary across product lines, departments, and different size organizations. Often results will even vary from campaign to campaign and channel to channel.
Wash, Rinse, Repeat
All the data about your prospects and customers is useless if it isn’t accurate. Clean data allows Marketing to more accurately target and nurture prospects by demographics, usage, interaction, transaction history, sales stage, etc. and provides Sales the right information to offer the right solution. The battle to keep data clean is a never-ending venture, but a necessary exercise to get the most from your data.
Get the Whole Picture
Prospect and customer interaction with your brand often happens through an array of channels and at a varying frequency. For example, a single contact might search Google for a product that fits their needs, see a display ad, visit your website, attend a webinar, talk to a Sales person, purchase your product, open an email, tweet about their purchase, and speak on your behalf at a tradeshow. The importance of tracking all of these interactions and touch points is vital. Getting a 360 view of your prospect/customers behavior allows you to better understand your market and sell smarter through targeting, nurturing, and retention. With data coming from so many sources it’s important to employ an analytics tool that allows you to easily connect a variety of data sources and formats. Aggregating and blending data into a single, simple, comprehensive view allows you to gain more accurate insight.
Share, Collaborate, and Listen
Gathering, cleansing, preparation, and aggregation are all important pieces of getting the most from your data. The next step – and the one that many companies never actually get to do – is to actively glean insights and socialize their findings with others. The capacity to publish insights, collaborate with others, and ultimately CHANGE what you’re doing in a visible way is invaluable. Gone are the days of emailing weekly reports to the boss’s inbox black hole. With today’s technology, organizations can distribute information throughout their workforce to engage, collaborate, and make better decisions moving forward.
React – Be Data-Driven
In today’s big data environment, Sales and Marketing professionals face an unprecedented opportunity to be truly data-driven and successfully optimize inbound and outbound activities through that data. They have the ability to use a vast aggregation of data, from multiple sources, to precisely and accurately target, nurture, and interact with customers and prospects, not only at the right time, but in the right way. Data-driven insights allow marking and sales organizations to easily and intelligently target prospects, identify visitors, and develop sales relationships with customers and prospects. The insights you find within your data are only valuable if you react upon your findings.
As Winston Churchill wrote, “To improve is to change; to perfect is to change often.” So get out there…