Big Data and why you won’t use it, yet

Big data was going to revolutionize your marketing efforts. But according to an eMarketer report only 5% of businesses say that it is fundamentally changing the way they do business. How could that be? We have all the data we would ever need to micro-target our customers with the right message at the right time! The problem is lack of strategy and lack of understanding of how to actually use this wealth of knowledge. Above all else, many businesses do not have a data collection engine set up to track audience behavior and customer preferences. But fear not, help is here. Below are some common pitfalls and how you can start using Big Data to grow your business.

No Strategy, no gains

In “The Art of War” Sun Tzu talks at great length about devising a strategy to defeat an enemy. While the tactics may change from battle to battle, the fundamentals do not. Having an in-depth digital strategy allows you to focus your messaging and target the right customers but much of the data either has yet to be unlocked OR just isn’t being collected. For instance, with Google Analytics you can easily see where visitors come from. You can then see which states or cities perform the best OR perhaps which cities buy particular products. With this data you can retarget those customers with messaging around promotions or sales for said products. That sounds good in theory, but you have to sit down and map it out. You need to say “For Miami, FL visitors we want to show rain jackets” and “For Denver, CO visitors we want to show heavy coats”. But Big Data goes beyond that. What time of year do we show these messages? What about to customers who have already purchased a rain jacket or heavy coat? How long ago did they purchase? When do customers typically repurchase these jackets? This is the heart of Big Data. The ability to micro-target these audiences and spot trends. But the data itself won’t do anything. You need to interpret the data and have a ready-made message to display to the audience. Many firms are not built to handle this type of strategy in addition to just not having the time. Bringing in a third party digital strategist, such as those from Bluefin Strategy, can help you develop these strategies and messaging schemes to micro-target your audience and increase your bottom line!

I don’t Understand

As I mentioned above, there is a severe lack of understanding as to what Big Data can and will do for your company. It’s not your fault, there’s a million things Big Data can provide and you need to focus on running the business. Once you have a strategy of who your targets are and what their behavior is you can begin to show the messaging. But how? Do you do it on your site? What about in banner ads? Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising? What about offline through direct mail? There are multiple channels that allow you to take advantage of this amazing data source but understanding how to utilize them is paramount to success. The best strategy in the world will fall flat on its face if you’re not using the right medium to get the message out. Just as a financial advisor gives you investment options, a digital strategist can help you with placement options to ensure your message reaches the right audience at the right time.

So why won’t you use this, yet?

You will, eventually. Many businesses need to collect the proper data first. So step one is ensuring your web analytics is setup to collect the right data about your visitors and customers. Step two is to devise your strategy by developing audience segments and their needs. Step three is to develop messaging to each audience segment for various times of year or buying cycles. Step four is to implement the messaging to the audience using the mediums and tactics that make the most sense for each audience. Step five… success! It isn’t that difficult when you have the right tools and the right partners. A simple evaluation and strategy to get you started doesn’t cost much (maybe a couple thousand bucks), but it can reap huge rewards! Talk to a digital strategist to determine the most effective use of your data and to make sure you have all of the right pieces in place to thrive online!

We all need help!

Digital Marketing HelpI had a conversation with a small business the other day where after presenting them with several issues that are easily fixed on their website the marketing person responded with, “ya we know all of that”. I guess this is why so many of us keep driving the car despite the engine light shining a Texas orange glow on the dash? How is it possible that in today’s landscape a business can dismiss such easy wins? Below I will outline a few of the common issues with the digital marketing landscape and how to overcome them with a digital strategy partner.

Lack of Knowledge

Many marketers in top positions have come from the Baby Boomer generation and haven’t grown up in the digital world. This isn’t bad, it just means there’s a larger learning curve, and we always fear what we don’t know. Another thing I have seen in my career is that many marketers don’t want to rock the boat for fear of getting the ax. Therefore, they just do the same things every year and don’t worry about upsetting what might be ‘sort of’ working today. Trying small things can reap huge benefits, but the quickest is implementing web analytics on your site complete with Event Tracking and Campaign Tracking Variables included. This is all offered free by Google and has very minimal upfront cost when working with a knowledgeable small agency to implement a rock solid analytics strategy. Knowledge equals power and web analytics provides it!

Lack of Time

There are hundreds of mediums and tactics to get your marketing message out there. Just within the digital marketing world there is SEO, PPC, Email Marketing, Social Media… etc. Many marketers today have a traditional and digital mix and really don’t have the time (or so they think) to monitor all of these moving pieces. Therefore they simply dip their toe in the water or keep it out all together, meaning not much attention is being paid and the results will suffer. Once web analytics are implemented on the site automatic reports can be setup to show how your inbound marketing is performing as well as where abandonment points may be on your website. This may take a couple of hours upfront, but then the reports are ‘set it and forget it’. Yes you still have to read them, but you won’t have to dig for the data every month to see what is working and what is not. Now you can answer with certainty to the question “what is our best online marketing medium”.

Lack of Money

When you add the word ‘digital’ to anything everyone expects the price tag to jump wildly. And in many companies’ defense digital agencies have been taking advantage of them for years with high margins and outrageously padded proposals. It’s like your electrician. If he charges you $50,000 for a job and says it will take 3 weeks you say, “OK, if that’s what it takes”. The truth is that many companies can get real digital strategy help for as little as $500 a month or quarter. Obviously the greater investment the greater the return, but the point is that it doesn’t have to be an ‘all in’ approach when it comes to your digital marketing investment. Additionally, many companies often think they need to spend $60,000 or more bringing on an internal resource. The point is, for a small investment (as little as just $2,000 per year) you can have a digital partner by your side guiding your digital initiatives and ensuring that your strategy is optimized and driving conversion success!

Bringing it all together

You don’t have to save the world all alone. I personally know nothing about an electrical circuit breaker and my electrician knows nothing of web analytics. But I also know that when I need an electrician I go for a small shop with a person I trust rather than some large regional company. My needs are smaller and therefore I want someone on that level. Hiring a digital strategy company is no different. On the flip side, larger companies can benefit from bringing on smaller agencies with lower costs for better resources. Many large agencies hire young kids out of college, so you’re paying top dollar for junior talent. You want a firm that understands that you do not have the knowledge, the time, nor the resources to do this on your own. Bringing on a digital marketing agency helps you focus on what you’re good at and lets them focus on what they are good at, driving website success!

You’re like, so social

There was a time for most of us not long ago, and many country clubs keep it going, when cliques determined whether you were part of the “in” crowd or if you were just a random person. That connection brought exclusivity to parties and good times that many people weren’t part of. Often you were called a “social butterfly” if you moved through these cliques and connected with many groups.

Social media is very similar in a lot of ways, hence the name. Social media does not simply equal Facebook nor Twitter. It does not simply equate to your posts on LinekdIn nor pictures on Instagram. Social media is about more than just one network and it’s about more than just posting random musings. By writing this I will probably post it on the various social channels, so perhaps your hypocrite flag is raised. However, if you’re reading this because you found it via one of those channels then my next point is proven.

A digital strategy is about finding where your audience is, where the conversation is taking place, and targeting them in those settings. Facebook and Twitter may very well be where that conversation is happening, but maybe it’s not. Perhaps it’s on blog sites or maybe in specialty forums. Social media is where a individuals are connecting and discussing topics in a community setting. These settings exist in many forms and in many places. ‘Social Media’ is not just ‘Facebook’ so if you’re asked about your social media strategy and your response is ‘Ya, we’ve got a Facebook page’ then you don’t have a strategy.

Some things to consider:

  • What is your target audience?
  • Where do these individuals congregate online?
  • What types of content are they discussing or consuming?

From the answers comes the proper channels and the proper messaging. Consult your friendly digital strategist to discuss the pros and cons of each channel and develop a cohesive social media strategy that fits perfectly with your larger digital strategy.

Don’t be scared of AB Testing

AB testing sounds much more difficult than it actually is. It’s probably because designers, developers and marketers just don’t want to be proven wrong so they just muddy the water. At the base of it all, AB testing is about getting answers about your website from those who actually use it.

Bluefin Strategies quick definition of AB Testing: Testing multiple variations of a web page to see which one drives to more conversions

Potential things to test with AB Testing:

  • Button colors on Calls to Action (CTAs)
  • Content voice or length
  • Page layouts
  • Image types, or no images at all
  • Feature additions

Implementing an AB test is as simple as:

  1. Deciding what to test
  2. Developing variations
  3. Implementing the variations
  4. Beginning the test
  5. Analyzing the test

The strategy behind an AB Test is essential to ensuring its success. There may be times when test variations don’t beat out what is currently active today, but more times than not you will see conversion increases with every test. The BIGGEST thing to remember is that you aren’t redesigning your entire website, just changing bits and pieces. This means you see conversion gains quicker and cheaper than you would by waiting for a site redesign. Talk to a Bluefin Strategy consultant about the benefits of AB Testing and how a small investment can go a long way!

Web Analytics Implementation Gaps & Tips

Galileo once said, “Measure what is measurable, and make measurable what is not so.” This is the basis for any web analytics implementation strategy. Web analytics does the following;

  • Tracks how visitors come to your website
  • Measures what they do when they are on your site
  • Records if those visitors take your desired action

Seems pretty simple right? Well, it is. But where so many companies fall short is adding the appropriate code to Track, Measure and Record, thus losing valuable insight on how to optimize their marketing plan and website.

A basic web analytics implementation will pretty much give you the bullets above to a certain degree, but you could go so much deeper and answer questions such as:

  • Was the blue or red display ad more successful?
  • Which homepage image drove more visitors to convert?
  • What audience group engages with my website longer and more often?

The questions you need answered will certainly vary, but rest assured that if it happens online web analytics can track it. But it won’t do any of that unless the proper set up is in place to do so! Let Bluefin Strategy take a look under the hood and provide a quick web analytics audit to ensure your data questions have answers.