If over-analysis leads to paralysis, then the best marketers have found the elixir to this great challenge. In a data-driven world, metrics matter. Marketers truly understand that the proof of the pudding is in the numbers – figures and statistics. By creating an action-plan for all this data, effective marketers can put a business’s objectives into practice.
Careful and methodical data analysis can have a positive impact on a business’s bottom line a.k.a. the ROI. Vanity metrics such as the number of followers, likes, shares, and engagements are ineffective measures of a business’s success.
A better barometer of a business’s success is an actionable goal such as a profit target, the number of demo requests for a product or service, the number of items added to shopping carts, sales targets, production targets, et cetera. Analysis differs markedly from reporting, and there is precious little insight from charts and graphs – the true value is how the information is interpreted and what actionable plans are implemented as a result of it.
By studying charts, graphs, trends, supply/demand data, businesses can formulate actionable plans as part of the grand marketing strategy. Marketing managers can secure greater budgetary allocations with carefully laid out plans. Reporting is an important function in the management system since it assesses results, performance, and activity and presents this material to managers who implement strategic decisions.
When used correctly, marketing data can drive intelligent decisions. If a business is collecting data and not interpreting it correctly, it becomes burdensome.
Customer Insights Drive Actionable Insights
Data analysis is critical, but so too is the action plan as a result of it. If the metrics that are being analyzed are not contributing towards the achievement of business objectives, it’s a no-go.
While charts can certainly look impressive, actionable insights are much more valuable. There are many powerful marketing software systems geared towards generating actionable insights. Once an action plan has been created, it is much easier to create objectives with valuable data in tow.
Marketing research provides the insights which can be used to achieve organizational goals. Many market research tools can be used to gather qualitative data for a company. If done right, this research leads to actionable insights for the development of myriad tactics and strategies. With respect to research, several options abound, notably practical research and academic research. Original research is particularly useful for marketers.
Plus, it is also the most valuable form of research for the Internet. Many marketing experts agree that research should never be collected simply for knowledge sake; it must be actionable to be worthwhile. The pros don’t always agree on the manner in which research is conducted especially when quantitative and qualitative data are used. This type of research methodology often results in too much data that has no intrinsic value in a dynamic marketplace.
By looking in the rearview mirror, marketers agree that they’re taking their eyes off the road ahead. Marketing is always future-oriented, and should be targeted at actionable insights.
Are Actionable Insights the Bridge Between Business Value and Data?
It is unsurprising that too many companies simply have too much data. It’s one thing farming copious amounts of data on a myriad of topics, it’s entirely another thing when sourcing useful data that will be beneficial to customers and the company.
Many marketers are enamored with the concept of ‘actionable insights’ gathered through customer experience insights. However, the term has become something of a catchphrase – a buzzword of sorts.
The real value of data is only found in the insight it provides. In a pyramidal structure, data (unprocessed information including text and numbers) would constitute the base, information (prepared data that has been processed and organized) is built on top of the data, and actionable insights (drawing conclusions through analysis) are gleaned from analyzing the data and information. As the apex of the pyramid, actionable insights drive action. All actionable insights have clarity, specificity, context, novelty, relevance, and alignment with organizational goals.
Marketing Charts compiled an extensive survey detailing the ‘Most vital capabilities supporting marketing strategy’ with a sample size of 342 marketing executives in the US, Canada, and the UK with companies that generate $500 million+ in revenue. A sizeable percentage of CMO’s (chief marketing officers) endorsed the following aspects of marketing:
- Marketing operations – 30%
- Digital commerce – 31%
- Marketing analytics – 32%
- Market research and competitive insights – 32%
Actionable insights allow businesses to transform business goals into customer-centric objectives. By understanding customer attitude and customer behavior, it is much easier to take the right action. It begins with interactions between businesses and consumers. During these interactions, businesses are required to stay abreast of the latest trends, developments, and market requirements. That’s why it is so important to take heed of customer preferences.
As patrons of the business, customers have an important part to play in the process. Business owners and managers should take every possible opportunity to conduct research through retail shoppers, merchandisers, call center operations, and customer service functions through business websites.
With social media dominating the scene, many marketing managers are unable to keep pace with all these developments in real-time. It is a painstaking process collecting data, analyzing data, and making that data work a.k.a. actionable insights.
How to make data actionable?
- Optimize the right data – since every business is unique, this task needs to be customized.
- Engage with stakeholders – stakeholders (those with an interest in the business) have goals and questions.
- Actionable data is best achieved through market segmentation, and Google Analytics is a powerful tool with multiple ‘built-in’ segments.
- Presentation of data – data must be presented in a way that it is visually appealing and actionable. Confusing data serves no purpose.
- Contextually driven data – all data needs to be context specific. Otherwise, it’s useless.
- The action plan – define, measure, analyze, improve, and control the data.
- Employ the right people – these are the ones who implement the plan.