Like every other industry, the marketing sector is awash with data. In fact, we have access to so much personal and demographic data now that John Wanamaker’s assertion that half of his marketing budget was wasted should no longer hold water. With all this data around us, there is no justifiable reason for not applying it correctly in the most targeted manner.
And yet, many companies still make decisions ‘on the hoof’, based on gut feeling or by trying to second guess what their prospects/clients/customers want or how they will act/respond.
That don’t impress me much
I had a discussion recently with a client about the best performing pages of their website. Whilst discussing one particular page their view was that it needed changing – it wasn’t working for them. By way of a response I noted that the page in question was not only one of the highest ranking in search terms but was also achieving a high click through rate and most importantly delivering lots of leads!
This page is gold. It is being found by people because we have used data to determine what people search for and then built the content around that knowledge. We had put in place all the calls to action necessary and they were working. So not only is the page responding to need and being found, but it is having the desired impact by making the visitors reach for the phone to place an enquiry.
“Yes but”, came the response “The page does not excite me”. But why do I need to excite you? It works – here is the data – I produce an analytics report merged with lead data (which shows a spike in leads for this area of their business). The reality is that we should aim to make all the other pages work like this one because the data shows they are not doing as well currently.
I was amazed that despite asking for the data, the client’s gut feeling and personal subjective views on look and feel were being used to drive future development.
Data can drive everything we do
And that’s not all. We can not only plan a campaign or website based on data but also use it to evaluate the activity from every angle. We can load TV ads into specific Sky TV boxes and then report on viewing times. We can see who comes to your website, which pages they look at, how long they stay, where they came from, what browser they use, you name it. We can even tailor content in nanoseconds based on all of that data, so the visitor can enjoy a highly bespoke interaction.
We have access to so much information it scares me sometimes. On a personal level you might be worried if you could see what we can. But from a professional level I love it. I love it because it means I can pitch ideas and report on activity with absolute confidence. I can use data to help clients spend less and achieve more. But this is only possible if we are willing to make data based decisions and stop believing we know all the answers – we need to move away from the reasoning process that is based on prejudices of how I use a website, or this is what I would do. If we carry on ignoring the value of the available data, then John Wanamaker will not only be proven correct but he may be wrong by a factor of two and we will waste every penny.