By Natalie Judd
We live in an era of marketing data overload. Every time we open an email, make a purchase at a store or online, visit a website or use our devices, we are leaving trails of data behind for marketers to collect and use to improve their targeting, customer services and communication.
Certification programs that use data-driven marketing and sales strategies have seen improvements in the way they market to their customers, with resulting gains in their return on investment.
With many channels and data points, any organization that is marketing or communicating something — and that’s almost every organization — should be using customer data to improve their marketing efforts. But the reality is that your data is only as useful as its ability to find and tell your story.
In order to effectively use data, you need to have the right tools in place and a team that understands how to use these tools and apply the insights to the marketing plan. Without these, the data you collect will just be a bunch of random numbers and a wasted opportunity.
There are many obvious and not-so-obvious places to look for data: websites, email marketing, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, advertising response, content, program rates, etc. But getting the data is only part of the game; your team will need to break down the data gathered from these tools to help you make better data-driven marketing decisions. Here are a few ways to put that data to work for you.
Improving Content Marketing
Creating relevant content for your readers and converting them to customers is the end goal for any content marketing. Harnessing your data can provide insights into which content is the most effective at each stage of a sales cycle. You can use tools like Google Keywords Planner to find relevant keywords or phrases that people search the most to come up with your next blog post idea. Then you can use Google Analytics to track and measure whether that post resonated with readers.
Take your content a step further and use it in a “drip campaign” providing different types of content across various platforms (not just email) to connect with your readers at the right time, with the right messages. This can help you target your messages and content with minimal waste. Drip marketing is a communication strategy that sends messages to customers at set times — and those messages can span all kinds of time periods, from daily reminders and weekly specials to monthly updates and yearly renewal notices. Each message should stand alone, but they should also build on the messages of the past and set the stage for what’s to come.
This type of timed release drip content marketing program has been used by many certification programs with solid results. Drip content marketing works well for certification programs because they often have varied and sometimes long selling cycles. However, drip marketing shouldn’t be limited to just securing the initial certification. It can also be used for recertification, training programs and developing customer loyalty no matter which industry you’re in.
Improving Customer Engagement and Responsiveness
Organizations that routinely track and review their marketing data can use it to improve customer responsiveness and gain greater customer insights. This allows the organization to plan more efficiently and execute strategies that drive relationships. It can also show you how your investments in CRM systems can be improved and suggest strategies for increasing conversion rates and prospect engagement.
The user experience is something that marketing and customer services teams should collaborate on. The majority of your audience will likely be directed to your website or a landing page after seeing one of your ads, articles, social media posts or emails. Thinking about the experience that customers have on these platforms needs to be part of the marketing effort, too.
Your website or landing page should be laid out with the user in mind, and data-driven marketing can help you do that. Data from the website can give you insight on which parts of your web page your audience is clicking on the most. This kind of data can help you better serve your customers and increase conversions and improve your user’s experience.
Creating More Efficient Strategies and Channel Use
The places where user data can have a significant impact on your strategies include search engine optimization and marketing, email marketing and mobile marketing. Equipped with some of the newer marketing platforms, organizations can deliver consistent customer experiences across all channels while retaining the personalized nature of their customer relationships.
One of the first things to tackle before developing a data-driven program is developing “buyer personas” for their certification program. If it hasn’t already been done, data can be used to create or refine the personas of your clients. The user data can also help you better understand customer journeys, which allows you to better target your user base and tailor your marketing efforts accordingly.
Data can also help you keep the budget on track with more focused and targeted marketing and improved return on investment.
Begin Harnessing Data Now
Every certification marketer is looking for a way to improve their customer’s loyalty and user experience. With so many options and channels, data is a marketer’s secret weapon to finding new opportunities.
With our rapidly changing digital landscape, data-driven marketing allows your organization to treat clients with a human touch while creating meaningful and valuable relationships.
Harnessing and using data is an important part of your marketing program. Even if you start small, the important step is to start. How are you integrating data into your marketing program?
Natalie Judd is the principal of Big Voice Communications, a full-service PR and marketing agency specializing in certification marketing.