If you’ve never got dirty with your data, you’re missing out.
Or, more accurately, your marketing plan is missing out. Data mining can sound overwhelming to the aspiring or DIY marketer, but it doesn’t have to be, and the rewards are worth it.
While some people find data sexy, most of us don’t. So let’s start with some motivation.
Jodie Sangster, CEO at the Association for Data-driven Marketing & Advertising (ADMA) knows exactly why you should care about your data.
"Think about the type of interactions you want to have with your customer and what information you need to achieve that.”
“The most significant benefit to data mining for marketers is the ability to better understand customers and prospective customers,” she explains. “This can cut across many criteria – likes, dislikes, behaviour, viewing activities, purchase history, product preferences.”
“The more we understand our customers, the more we can be relevant, valuable and respond to their needs. Ultimately, brands would like to deliver a personalised, one-to-one relationship with their customers and the way to achieve this is through data.”
So where is a good place for you to start your adventures in data?
“The important place to start is to think about the type of interactions you want to have with your customer and what information you need to achieve that,” Sangster says. “With data collection you should start small, be clear about why you are collecting the data and only collect the data you need.”
“You should think about the points at which you can collect data from customers and use tools at those interaction points to gather the data required. Interaction points include any point where a customer intersects with the business – for example, websites, mobile sites, social media and printed forms.”
Sangster recommends tailoring your tools. “The tools used will depend upon the interaction point where data is being collected. For example, on a website, web forms can be used such as wufoo or others.”
Once your data has given up the answers you went looking for, don’t sit on your information.
In order not to get lost in reams of numbers, you need to know what you want to find. “The question needs to be asked first, and then the data should be used to find the answer,” says Sangster. “Although it is possible to scan data to find trends, this is incredibly difficult if you don’t have an objective that you are looking for. In general the question should be asked in advance.”
Data mining is not a one-time event. Sangster recommends regular data reviews, although the regularity “depends on the reason for reviewing the data”.
“One aspect is clear, data ages quickly and can become inaccurate. Data cleansing every six months will ensure the data gathered remains relevant, accurate and up-to-date.”
Once your data has given up the answers you went looking for, don’t sit on your information. “This is the most important aspect of data analysis and insight – ensuring that the insight leads to action implemented through the business,” says Sangster.
Data mining can give you the insights you need to target your marketing campaigns. Why not leverage the information you have about your already existing customers? Especially when it’s right at your fingertips.
Aja is Sydney-based writer and serial entrepreneur. She regularly writes about small business, entrepreneurship, and health and wellbeing. Her latest entrepreneurial adventure is yeahmama.co.