data storytelling

Humans produce 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day (Domo).

data production stats

That’s a lot of data!

However, the rate at which humans are generating data is far outpacing our ability to analyze it.

digital data

For marketers, this means there have been quite a few missed opportunities to better understand their consumers and execute the most impactful campaigns. Thus, there is a rapidly growing need for not only strong data collection and analysis, but also data visualization and storytelling.

What is data-driven marketing?

Data-driven marketing is as it sounds: data driving marketing. This approach is more analytical and strategic in nature as it involves organizations using historical data to evaluate and inform past, present, and future campaigns.

The benefits of this approach are clear, as data-driven personalization has been found to deliver five to eight times the ROI on marketing spend and can lift sales by 10% or more (McKinsey).

Marketers agree with its importance. 91% of marketers believe data-driven marketing is crucial to success within a hyper-competitive global economy. 88% find that there are a number of tangible benefits being realized as a result of data-driven marketing. And 85% feel there is an urgency within their organizations to conduct data-driven marketing campaigns (Forbes Insights & Turn).

It is evident that marketers understand the value in using data to inform campaigns; however, the next step is understanding what data is available and worth using.

How are data sources changing over time?

Quite simply, there are more of them.

With the ever-increasing number of devices, applications, and channels being used by consumers, there is consistently more data to be collected, consolidated, and analyzed. Marketers can no longer rely on a simple customer journey to reach their audience. Rather, they must turn to a higher number and variety of data sources to gain a deeper understanding.

The average number of data sources used by marketers grew by 20% from 2017 to 2018, and the median number is forecasted to jump from 12 in 2018 to 15 in 2019 (Salesforce Research).

data sources

Even with all of these data sources, 51% of marketers believe their organizations’ ability to understand the customer journey across channels is at a beginner level, with lots of missing parts (Econsultancy & IBM). When asked about their top marketing priorities in 2019, 42% said they want to integrate their marketing tools for greater efficiencies and better workflows. 42% also indicated they want to improve customer intelligence and insights for a holistic customer view (Econsultancy & Adobe).

While there are endless sources of valuable customer data out there, marketers are still presented with the challenge of consolidating this data to understand consumer behavior across all touchpoints and derive the best insights.

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How can marketers manage and capitalize on all of this data?

It all comes down to data consolidation.

In the book Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, author Yuval Noah Harari talks about Dataism, a view of the future that sees the universe as consisting of data flows and the entire human species as a data-processing system.

Harari then identifies four basic methods through which this human data-processing system is able to improve its efficiency:

  1. Increasing the number of processors.
  2. Increasing the variety of processors.
  3. Increasing the number of connections between processors.
  4. Increasing the freedom of movement along existing connections.

While Harari talks about Dataism as a future for humankind, this future view and the methods for improvement apply to organizations, as well. Organizations already have an increased number and variety of data processors; what they need to work on is connecting these processors and allowing the connections to move freely.

Each marketing channel tells one part of the overall story for the consumer. Marketers should thus integrate relevant data from as many channels as possible to contribute to a holistic view. The data most often used by marketers for personalization include on-site activity (43%), search activity (41%), and social activity (39%), as reported by VB Insight. Unifying this data can help marketers understand how customers interact with their brand across channels, allowing them to create the right experience on the right channels at the right time.

data questions

Consolidating data can be done a number of ways. You can export the relevant data from each source and combine it into one spreadsheet program, or you can connect your data sources directly to a visualization tool. Regardless of your method, once your data is in one centralized location, it becomes much easier to understand performance and behavior across channels.

Having the data consolidated, however, is not the final step. Once your sources are connected, analysis comes next. Numbers are just numbers until you derive meaning from them.

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How can marketers best extract value from their data?

This is where data visualization and storytelling come into play.

54% of marketers identify their organizations’ ability to act on insights derived from customer data as poor (Econsultancy & IBM). Thus, it is imperative for marketers to not just collect and consolidate data, but to turn it into actionable insights through informative data visualizations and a clear story of performance.

Seeing data for various marketing channels trended out side-by-side can help uncover interesting insights about consumer behavior and make learnings much more clear. Marketers can then craft a more informed story about their customers’ journey and interactions with the brand, which will feed into opportunities for action.

Essentially, the best way for marketers to derive actionable insights from customer data is to not only analyze the numbers, but also visualize trends that help inform an impactful story.

data visualization

Without thorough analysis, instructive visualization, and compelling storytelling, powerful learnings within marketers’ data can easily be lost.

So what’s next?

For marketers, the time to act on data is now. A key element to doing so is acquiring and nurturing talent that knows how to consolidate, visualize, and tell a story from data.

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According to LinkedIn, the third most needed hard skill in 2019 is analytical reasoning. The platform explains that, “as they collect more data than ever before, companies are hungry for professionals who can make smart decisions based off of it.”

Additionally, 90% of marketers have identified hiring advanced analytics talent as being an important investment for their organization (Forbes Insights & Turn). Marketers are finding that the key to success with data-driven marketing goes beyond having the right tools, but also the right talent.

Just as Yuval Noah Harari’s Dataist future sees humans as data processors, the talented folks at Engage see data as human. Our team takes data from a variety of sources every day and translates it into holistic stories for our clients, providing actionable insights around consumer behavior and campaign performance across channels.

If you are interested in amping up your organization’s data-driven marketing efforts or simply want to learn more about it, contact the experts here at Engage!