Developing a strong digital marketing strategy is key for any business that wants to succeed today. In the modern world, the internet is often the first place that your target audience will go when they are looking for products and services like the ones that you offer, and a solid digital marketing strategy will ensure that they find your business when looking for what they need. But where do you begin when putting together a digital marketing strategy that works well? 

Although businesses need to utilize digital marketing in order to succeed in the information age, putting together a digital marketing strategy is still a common challenge that many business owners face. With so many digital and mobile marketing channels that are now vital for getting the word out about what you do and attracting new customers, it's more important than ever before to have a clear plan in place that you will use to learn more about and engage with your target audience effectively. Data is key to coming up with a digital marketing strategy and plan that works well. 

By analyzing the data that your business collects, you can find out more about your audience, what they are looking for, and how to approach them to get the best results. Here are some of the common problems that businesses face when they don't incorporate data into their digital marketing planning. 

Lack of Direction

Many companies that don't have a digital marketing strategy, or put a strategy in place using guesswork, don't have a clear and strategic goal for what they hope to achieve from advertising online. When putting together a digital marketing strategy or campaign, it's important to understand exactly where you want it to take your business, whether that's gaining new leads, boosting engagement with your audience, or improving your relationships with your current customer base. 

When putting together a digital marketing campaign or strategy, the first step is to use the data that you have gathered to come up with SMART goals for the campaign. SMART goals refer to goals that are:

  • Specific: The details in the information that you use should sufficiently point out any opportunities or issues. The objective or goal should have enough detail to measure these. 

  • Measurable: Can you use a qualitative or quantitative attribute to create and measure metrics?

  • Actionable: Is the information that you have gathered to use for your campaign enough to take action and improve performance?

  • Relevant: Can you apply the information to the specific problem that you are looking to solve with the campaign?

  • Timed: The objectives should be set for a reasonable time period that can be reviewed periodically. 

Lack of Target Audience Knowledge

Data isn't just important for putting together a marketing campaign that works for your business. You will also need to gather and analyze data to learn as much as possible about your target audience, which in turn will give you the opportunity to find out more about what they are looking for and what they are most likely to respond positively to when it comes to your campaign. Emerson College's Master of Arts in Digital Marketing and Data Analytics online program offers more insight into how you can put data to work for you in your business to get to know your customers better and develop a stronger relationship with them. Find out more at the Emerson College website. 

Using the data that you collect on your audience, you can research them and use the information to make the right decisions regarding the demand for the product or services that you offer. It is easy to under- or overestimate demand if you don't have clear data to work with. 

Thankfully, in a world where most people are spending a lot of their time online, there is a huge amount of data available from the main digital platforms such as social media networks that you can use to determine the level of customer demand for what you offer. You can also use a wide range of online tools like Google's Keyword Planner, designed to enable you to carry out search gap analysis and more to determine how well you are doing when it comes to attracting searchers to visit your business website instead of others. 

Weak Customer Relationships

Failing to make use of the data that your business collects on a regular basis is not only dangerous for failing to get to know your target audience well enough, but your business might also miss out on opportunities to build strong and lasting relationships with existing customers. When you are not using data to get to know more about your existing customer base, chances are that you will not have enough information to market to them effectively and strengthen your relationships with them, leading to more loyalty, better word of mouth marketing and repeat purchases. 

Using a tool such as a customer relationship management (CRM) platform is vital for businesses of all sizes and in all industries today to follow the customer journey from start to finish, gather vital data on customers, and learn about your customers' behaviors and habits. Gathering feedback from your existing customers is another excellent method of collecting more data that you can put to use when making future decisions in terms of both customer services and marketing. 

Difficult to Differentiate Your Brand

When you're making marketing decisions based on anything except the data collected by your business, you are unlikely to achieve a powerful and clearly-defined online customer value proposition that is tailored to your target audience and enables your prospective customers to quickly and easily differentiate your brand from the competition. Using data to develop a competitive content marketing strategy is the best way to do this, since it enables to you engage your audience further and strengthen the relationships that they have with your brand. 

Use a variety of different channels including social media, your business website or blog, and email marketing to create and distribute content that is tailored to your target audience based on the data that you have gathered about them. Doing this allows you to personalize the content and services that you offer, making it more relatable to your audience and drawing them in. 

How to Make Data-Driven Decisions for Your Digital Marketing Strategy

As you can see, it's clear that an effective and successful data marketing campaign should be driven by data. The first step towards developing a successful data-driven digital marketing strategy is to determine the data that is going to be the most important to the business and where you can collect it. This might be different depending on the campaign that you are planning to run. For example, data on your current customers can help you with both customer acquisition or retention, while data collected from your website can help you determine which online marketing campaigns tend to get the most attention and web visits. The following steps are essential when making data-driven online marketing decisions:

Answer Business Questions Using Data

Going with your gut is never the best option when you are answering a question or making a business decision. Any digital marketing campaign will have a number of questions that you will need to answer before getting started in order to point it in the right direction. For example, you can use data to find the answers to questions such as which landing page styles will perform best, which areas of your website tend to lead to the most sales, and which marketing platforms provide your company with the best return on investment. 

Use Data to Find New Opportunities

By gathering and analyzing data to use to drive your digital marketing campaign, you can more easily find new opportunities further afield. For example, you might find that there are some surprising sources of traffic that are leading to high conversions that you were not aware of before you analyzed the data. Perhaps looking at your marketing analytics data will reveal that there is a new market for you to target. Analyzing marketing and sales data together could help you determine which ad campaigns tend to produce the highest conversion rates or product return rates. Data analytics can be put to use to find out more about the messages that tend to be resonating the most with your audience, and which ones are not performing quite as well in order to ensure that you make the best decisions for future campaigns. 

Plan Campaigns Using Demographic Data

If you're planning to upsell a new product or service to your largest customer segment, knowing as much as possible about them is going to help you get the best results. Going further than the basics when it comes to customer data and finding out more about things such as household income, spending habits, employment, family life and more can help you make more strategic marketing decisions by using demographic data in your digital campaign planning. You can gather this information from customer surveys or use publicly available datasets that hold the answers to some of the biggest questions that you might have regarding your customers. The more you learn about your customers prior to a campaign, the easier it will be for you to divide them into distinct segments based on important demographic factors. 

Combine Marketing and Sales Data

There are often barriers separating the sales and marketing departments of a business, but when it comes to gathering and analyzing data to use in future campaigns, removing these barriers and combining the data that is gathered can help you get a more complete picture of the customer journey from start to finish. Combining the marketing and sales datasets gives you the opportunity to determine how customers behave throughout the marketing process and how this impacts the choices that they make during the sales process. As a result, you will be able to make more informed and strategic decisions regarding both marketing and sales, and how you can improve both processes to drive conversions and sales. 

Analyze Your Email Marketing Efforts

Email is the marketing strategy that consistently delivers the highest return on income, according to research. If you're keeping in touch with your target audience via email, one of the main ways to get more out of your efforts is to analyze the data and use it in future email marketing campaigns. For example, learning more about how many people are opening the marketing emails that you send, how many are clicking on links and which links get the most attention, how many times people open your emails, and how many email lists are subscribed to can help you make better decisions for future email campaigns and strategies. 

Track Data at Every Step

In the past, an online buying cycle was quite linear and direct - but things have changed. The buying cycle is now much more complex, meaning that business owners and marketers need to track user behavior at every point during the cycle and measure success as a series of small steps rather than simply meeting an overall goal. Tracking data at every step gives you the chance to figure out which steps in the buying cycle are more likely to continue to buyers leaving the cycle, making it easier for you to determine what should be eliminated or improved in order to boost results. 

Use Data to Drive Every Marketing Decision

Before making any marketing decision, analyzing the data will enable you to make the most informed choice and ensure the best results. Whether you are embarking on a new digital marketing campaign, print marketing campaign or something else, data should always play a crucial part in putting the strategies together and producing faster and better results. Every business owner, no matter their industry or business size, from sole traders working from home to large companies, can benefit from being in the habit of backing up all marketing decisions with data analysis. 

Digital marketing is key for business success today. But to run a successful marketing campaign, gathering and analyzing data is a crucial step.