Data is one of the most powerful resources we have as marketers, but making data approachable, understandable, and actionable is a challenge. We all know the struggle of Excel or Google-sheet-induced-overwhelm. And, we also know how the benefits of those “a-ha!” data moments can lead to transformational change in how you use data in your day-to-day marketing. That’s why for a recent webinar, Amy Cox, Technical Business Analyst and G5 superstar, met with G5 clients and marketing experts to hear a boots-on-the-ground perspective of how data informs their marketing choices. Here are our top three takeaways. 

1. Customer Behavior Shifted (+ So Did Marketing)

We joke about the buy-it-from-your-couch-while-wearing-sweatpants consumer, but raise your hand if you’ve done the buy-it-from-your-couch-while-wearing-sweatpants kind of shopping in the last year. *hand raised emoji* Curious to learn more about this? Then check out our first Women in MarTech Summit webinar to learn how COVID impacted the multifamily housing, senior living, and self storage industries

Consider this: you can buy a Tesla in just four clicks, and order basically anything from Amazon in one. So, the customer journey for bigger life moments (i.e. moving, moving a loved one into a senior living community, or putting your belongings in storage to van-life for a year), shouldn’t be held up by a clunky user experience. Last year, with more customer interactions funneled online, email open rates increased, as did other online communication tactics. 

Ryan Perez, Senior Director of Marketing at Related Group, noted that customers are being more thorough in their buying selection since they’re needs have changed. For example, they consider if they need a dedicated workspace, shorter commutes if they’re essential workers, if a building is walkable or pet friendly, and the community’s wifi speeds. “All of these things are determining factors, whereas prior I don’t think our customers were considering all of these with such granularity.” 

Also in the multifamily housing industry, Jessica Gillette, Director of Marketing at Hercules Living, noted that they are highlighting amenities in a different way. For example, the lounge is now offered as a work-friendly location to help residents envision their work from home, but not work from their studio lifestyle. 

In self storage, Khara Mangiduyos, Digital Marketing SEO Analyst at A-1 Self Storage, threw down some analytics-based intelligence they’ve experienced. During COVID, they noticed that walk-in rentals dropped but occupancy sky-rocketed, which is clearly proof that customers turned online to rent their storage units. 

In senior living, Kristie Wakefield, Digital Media Manager at Harmony Senior Services, saw virtual tours replacing many of their traditionally in-person appointments with researching seniors and their loved ones.

2. Data Tells a Story

At its core, business intelligence is simply how we tell stories with data. We know that a data point is created in every digital interaction — from phone calls, to search ad clicks, to website visits. However, stringing these data points together into a simple digestible story is a challenge, and sometimes so is operationalizing the data. We wanted to dive deeper into our client’s reality of leveraging data to inform their marketing, and if there’s ever been anything surprising in their data. 

Both Gillette and Perez said that in the multifamily housing industry data influenced countless decisions from understanding patterns in how customers were communicating, to digital advertising with G5’s assistance, to deciding how to price apartment rent in different markets.

In self storage, Mangiduyos noted that data“really is the lifeline of every decision and strategy that we make because it tells us a story.” Additionally, understanding what your marketing goals are will help you cut through the noise and pay attention to metrics that matter. 

In senior living, Wakefield shared that, “your digital landscape is what people are seeing first instead of the beautiful exterior of the community or meeting with the salesperson or the executive director in the building. So make sure that your website looks as good as your property, make sure that the reviews that are posted online about you are five stars across the board, so people want to learn more.” Essentially: your digital impression is your first impression. 

3. Tips for Data Novices

Echoing across the panel was this central piece of advice: Just. Get. Started. 

Of course, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, but identify the things you want to focus on — move-ins, conversions, reach, engagement, leads, etc. — and then understand what the appropriate KPIs are for each area. And then, begin to question the data, instead of being excited to see growth, begin to question why you saw growth. Which of your marketing tactics led to this growth? What market conditions might have influenced this? Final tip, surround yourself with people and partners that will elevate and challenge you, and then don’t be afraid to begin using data to drive marketing decisions, as sometimes that’s the most intimidating step. 

Data Details

Learn more from these rockstar marketers and G5 clients by watching the webinar, or diving into our G5 MarTech Report Part 4: Data + CDP