Last year was a big year for Business Intelligence (BI), particularly with the rise of machine learning and artificial intelligence, and will no doubt continue to play a much larger role for marketers in 2019. This year won’t simply revolve around having the data or acquiring it, but what marketers choose to do with the information and how they use BI reporting to effectively create and manage client relationships.
Marketers should strongly consider the following five areas of BI in the year ahead.
It’s vital for marketers to make sure their business has systems in place to successfully manage the mass amounts of data their company is responsible for, particularly the accuracy, completeness and/or timeliness of the data.
The age-old saying, “quality over quantity” holds true. Come to the table with data but bring the right kind, particularly any data that supports a brand’s story in an impactful and personalized manner. Being armed with the wrong data is like trying to build a house with scissors and a hole punch it lacks a strong foundation. Ensuring an agency is armed with the correct data is the heart of the strategic and tactical steering of its clients or its business.
Visualizations are easy on the eyes and simpler to digest than endless rows of raw data. They allow the user to easily spot trends, insights and data outliers and make storytelling incredibly more powerful with visual elements to back up points. Researchers from 3M found that the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text, the right visual can help drive marketers’ clients to the “A-ha!” moment they’re trying to convey – which is always a welcomed bonus!
The example below illustrates how a new initiative was introduced into the marketing mix that resulted in a significant lift in conversions and revenue while keeping spending flat. Displaying this visually as opposed to providing the raw numbers has a more profound impact. Adversely, there’s a noticeable drop off at the end of the year. What happened there? Did strategy change or is this an effect of seasonality? Both of these trends were spotted quickly using visualizations.
One of the most important aspects of working with data is being able to transform it into a narrative that tells a brand or client what to do in a direct way. Once all the data is aggregated, ask, “What strategic decision(s) will be made as a result of this data?”
Like any good narrative, there should be a beginning, a middle, and an end. First, discuss the current environment and strategy while being as relatable as possible to the audience. Next, grab their attention with the prepared insights and visualizations, explain what it all means and the plan of where to go next. Finally, recap findings and inspire their moment of clarity in which they understand the next steps and the roadmap ahead.
For example, a client that only partially funds their paid search efforts leaves a large amount of potential revenue on the table. By highlighting pre-investment strategy results compared to post-investment results, marketers can present the client with a visual that shows how increased investment directly lead to more sales.
Now that the client can easily see how their investment has paid off, the marketer can guide them to the next part of the strategy, expanding on what is working. In this example, now that the client is fully funding paid search, the marketer can recommend that they continue to capture new customers in the marketing funnel by expanding their strategy to drive more awareness utilizing display campaigns.
Excessive data can inspire and guide teams to devise new initiatives, campaigns, and strategies. A data-driven company where this type of culture exists and is encouraged will become an immensely valuable and irreplaceable partner to its clients. In addition, there are four immense benefits for companies that invest in becoming a data-driven culture – increased collaboration, improved accountability, the confidence to launch new products/services and informed decision-making. According to a 2018 survey, “58% of respondents say their companies base at least half of their regular business decisions on gut feeling or experience rather than being driven by data and information.” Companies that can adapt to industry changes in competitive environments are the ones that will survive, making it essential to base decisions on data rather than instincts.
Assign whatever title makes the most sense, but having a dedicated person or team whose sole purpose centers around will become a necessity in 2019. Their focus should be on the curation, processing, organizing, analysis, and compiling of data, plus overseeing the technology behind the data collection. Bridging the gap between technology and a marketer’s business can help advance a company’s overall data management strategy.
As the digital marketing landscape grows increasingly competitive, agencies are challenged to improve efficiencies and profitability. Focusing on these areas of BI can reveal valuable insights that help agencies scale campaigns, improve productivity and drive better results for clients.
Marc Cerniglio is Manager of Insights and Automation at Chacka Marketing in Tampa, Fla.
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