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It's Not Just Data, It's Science

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The role that data plays in your marketing strategy is critical, and it’s more than just gathering it. Data should be treated as insight into how your campaigns and methods are performing, and used as a tool to inform strategic decisions.

The world of digital marketing can be an overwhelming one, especially when it comes to analyzing data. One way to describe the process of using data to inform your decision making is the scientific method.

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Now, if you’re like me, the scientific method is something I hadn’t thought about much since grade school in the form of classroom experiments, but I remembered the steps. Lucky for you, that knowledge comes in handy, and should be used, in digital marketing.

Essentially, what you’re doing is using similar steps for actionable analytics in digital marketing:

  1. An idea is formed
  2. A question is asked
  3. Data is used to answer the question
  4. Action is taken from the analysis
  5. Results are measured
  6. Wash, rinse and repeat

An idea is formed

Every idea you form regarding your digital marketing strategy should be thought through and run through your digital marketing scientific method. Light goes on, idea comes to life, idea is written down, process begins.

For this example, let’s use a simplified social media idea.

Idea: Facebook seems like a good opportunity to connect with our audience and drive leads.

A question is asked

It’s easier to go into a strategic test when you know what exactly you’re looking to find out. Posing the idea as a question before taking action will help you better understand the data when you come back around for that insight.

Question: Does our Facebook audience usually convert to a lead when engaging with our content?

Data is used to answer the questions

Now that you have your specific question, you can use the data you already have to gain insights into the actions your Facebook audience is taking.

To get the answer to this question, reference Google Analytics. From here, you can take a peek at what channels your leads are coming from. When people come from Facebook, where are they going next? Are they converting?

You may find out that when you post staff photos on Facebook, your visitors end up on your careers page, and that your organic search visitors are actually the ones who end up converting to leads. So what does this tell you about your previously asked question? No, your Facebook audience does not usually convert to a lead. However, they are interested in your job openings.

Action is taken from the analysis

Based on the insights you’ve gathered, use the data to inform your digital marketing strategy. Instead of focusing on lead generation in the social space, focus on the culture of your company and use Facebook as a tool to connect with job seekers and BE AUTHENTICALLY SOCIAL. Seems crazy, right?

Some other actions may be: change the CTAs of your social posts to include a link to the careers or about us pages.

Results are measured

Now that you’ve been able to make some changes in your marketing strategy to reflect the insights you’ve pulled together, measure results over time. Keep checking your analytics to see if your social efforts are driving more traffic to the areas of your site you want people on. Each channel should be used as a tool to move the right people to the right place in your digital experience.

Wash, rinse, repeat

Go through this process every time you want to know something about your digital strategy, or try something new. This can be applied to mobile traffic, YouTube visitors, keywords and more. The more data you gather, the more you’ll know moving forward, and the better you’ll get with reaching your audience.

Avoid Data Puke

“If you see data puke, then you know you’re looking at web reporting. If you see words in English outlining actions, then you are looking at web data analysis.” - Avinash Kaushik, Occam’s Razor

By creating a hypothesis, testing it, gaining insight and using that information to guide future efforts, you prevent what industry experts call “data puke,” which are all those reports, numbers and data points without human words and recommended next steps. Data is only useful when action is taken from the insight.

In short, the scientific process can be, and should be, used to inform your digital marketing strategy. When you outline the exact data you’re looking to analyze based on questions and hypotheses, you’ll be able to more accurately measure, gain insight, and inform decisions moving forward. 

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