This week's blog post is contributed by guest writer, David Khadem, Vice President of Business Development for NaviStone.
Good Data Interpretation - Well Worth a Pack of Smokes
AH, MY ADOLESCENCE…
Humor me for a moment and try to visualize this scene from when I was 16 or 17 years old. It’s dark…probably around 9pm on a winter Saturday night. Two of my buddies and I are parked on the side of a dimly lit liquor store in a sketchy neighborhood…. I’m standing outside while my homies are inside the car. We look nervous but appear to be anxiously waiting for the right person.
After about 15 minutes, we pick this indiscriminate, dark, and imprecise figure that gets off the bus and starts walking slowly toward the liquor store entrance. I still remember that it took every ounce of courage in me to start approaching. As I find myself about 10 feet away from him, in a deep rough voice he states, “How much you need?”, I was dumbstruck! I had not even stated a single word to this random guy and he knew EXACTLY what I wanted with him. With a juvenile crackle in my voice I handed him a $20-dollar bill and gave my order, “Three 40s of Olde E and a couple bottles of Mad Dog…grape.” He grabbed the $20 and said, “It’s gonna cost you a pack of smokes.”
I will never forget that. I guess at the time, I didn’t appreciate his keen ability to accurately process the number of data points around him and assess precisely why I was approaching him. Had he interpreted those data points in a different light, that encounter could have ended very differently, with some unintended consequences.
Was it good data interpretation on his end, or, did I just get lucky for a pack of Luckies?
Whether You Like It, Or Not, Data Is Here To Stay
Fast forward almost 30 years… Yes, those days of trying to get random strangers to buy me 40-ounce bottles of Olde English Malt Liquor and Mad Dog 20/20 are behind me, but data and data interpretation, for better or worse, are very much a part of all our lives. In fact, there’s so much data out there, as marketers, it often feels like we’re drowning in it.
Granted, there are still many companies that have plenty of catch-up to do, in terms of just simply capturing data. And, some may disagree, but, data capture should be the easy part of the equation.
Tom Cruise, The Quintessential Marketer...REALLY?
The critical question marketers often struggle with is, what does one do with all that data once it is captured? And, how do you interpret this data so it can be used in an actionable way, and, most importantly, to drive the desired results?
It’s a cliché and there’s hardly been a conference in the past 10 years that I’ve attended that hasn’t had a presentation that shows the clip from the movie, Minority Report, where Tom Cruise’s character is bombard by personalized advertising while he’s shuffling through the mall. I get it! Timely, highly relevant, and individualized targeting... It’s annoying to watch it conference after conference, but, I get it!
So, the questions each one of us needs to address are: What’s the ultimate goal? And, how can data and data interpretation be the means to the end?
I Have All This Data. Now What?
Well, to start, be sure you’re capturing the right kinds of data points that are meaningful to the story you are trying to tell. Assuming you’re good on that front, dig into our own assets. There’s no reason to start acquiring 3rd party data without going knee deep into your own data first. You’re likely already sitting on a gold mine – from website browsing and engagement data, purchase data, email, beacon insights from physical stores, and, so on.
In my opinion, website browsing and engagement data is often the best sources of customer and prospect data, and, rarely used to its full potential – this data is real-time, not derived from external sources, and, let’s not forget, these are individuals that have taken the almighty action of going to your site. No doubt, it could be your lowest hanging fruit!
How do you manage it all? There are many ways to help manage all this data and make it actionable – CRM solutions, customer data platforms that run outside but tie into your CRM, DMPs, etc. But, there’s also a cost to consider – not only financial but the time your team will spend trying to figure out exactly how to slice and dice that data – precious time that could be spent in a more strategic manner elsewhere.
The hard truth is that even if you capture all this data into one of these systems, much of your captured information will remain orphaned – can’t be tied to any one individual – limiting, or eliminating your options altogether, to target them.
So, why even bother?
Can't Someone Else Do The Hard Work?
When it comes to data interpretation, I’m a big fan of outsourcing. Why not go to experts to do all this for you? Data Science is just that, a science. While, many of us like to get our hands dirty and try on different hats, this might be one of those hats that should be left to those who live and breathe statistical modeling, algorithms, and predictive analytics.
Better yet, find a partner that not only can sift through the valuable assets and the noise (via intelligent modeling) to identify your best targeting candidates, but, can also tie some of your orphaned and unknown site visitors to actual individuals and can apply this intelligence to actionable marketing strategies. Doing so could allow you to target more of your traffic in a much more effective and individualized manner, and, ultimately, help work towards your overall objectives.
Without the resources or in-house expertise, getting yourself a partner that knows data and good data interpretation could be the right option.
It could just be well worth a pack of smokes.