Since joining the workforce full-time, I’ve worked with data – from marketing, through operational, through financial – across several industries. I’ve developed habits from a variety of people with a wealth of experience working with, again, a plethora of data types.
Throughout my experience in different industries with different data, one big lesson stood out that the best analytics professionals preached: Don’t limit your hypothesis to the currently available data!
When it comes to using analytics in the digital media space, too often projects will have limited goals to the data they have available and thus, box their hypothesis into biased, incomplete pictures of their customers. In the era of big data, it is important to look beyond the data you have available to make a more robust decision set.
Don’t Limit Your Hypothesis
While looking at clicks and impressions is important, we can gain greater, actionable insights by blending that data with customer motivations. For example, using traditional digital metrics, we can understand that we have high click-through rates and conversions from women ages 25-30 during certain times of the week, and we believe that changing our marketing strategy to target this likely profitable group will increase return on investment. Will it succeed? Maybe.
But even if this tactic is successful and increases the return on investment, are we gaining new knowledge of our customer base? If I replicate this campaign in the future, will it produce the same results? Again, the answer is maybe.
A better hypothesis would be to ask why this tactic was successful. By blending traditional digital data with population data, we can visualize our customers to understand their underlying motivations as opposed to blindly increasing a marketing channels efforts.
Combine Traditional Digital Data with Customer Insights
Let’s take a look at a scenario. Say you are a hotel and want to promote spring break vacations. You can increase media spend and try to increase impressions and click-throughs, but this is a one-size-fits-all approach.
Start asking questions to target your hypothesis. Is it reasonable to assume that all spring breaks in all counties will occur at the same time? Will my target demographic come from one location? The answer is unlikely.
By combining your digital and consumer data, you can target your campaigns to allow for enough time to generate a booking, as well as increase the likelihood of bookings by reaching the correct audience.
How can you take actionable steps to obtain more data? A few options are available:
- Create your hypothesis and ask yourself, have I asked this question before? If the answer is yes, your insights are unlikely to be impactful.
- Examine your data and determine what you need to make it robust. Create scientific surveys to overlay customer insights onto their actions. Obtain outside data sources to piece together missing customer attributes.
- Blend your data into your model.
- Conduct your analysis.
- Document results and insights as to how to make improvements.
Take the time to develop your company’s data analytics capabilities to allow for the support of your marketing strategies that build actionable insights into your customers. At the end of your campaign, did you learn something new about your customers? Understanding your customers’ underlying emotions will allow you to make more results-driven decisions, and increase ROI, in future strategic initiatives.