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Data driven, marketing analytics, customer data, web analytics, are all phrases, among others, marketers have heard at some point. But what does it all mean? What measures really matter and how do you decipher it all? In a world where it’s all about data and marketers are now under increasing pressure to prove ROI – wouldn’t it be nice to know where data fits?

Also see: The Beginner’s Guide to Machine Learning

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How to take advantage of, love and understand data:

  • Find cost effective reliable data sources
  • Understand ways to integrate your data
  • Visually represent data meaningfully
  • Know which metrics are important
  • Capture data in unique places

Data Resources

Believe it or not, there are free and low cost resources at your disposal for data collection you can take advantage of. Why is this important? You can skip the cumbersome process of digging for reliable data across the web or trying to analyze it yourself. Finding stats you really want and need is great but there are some places you can check first to save time.

MarketingCharts.com: This awesome resource pulls marketing stats from various resources into one place for visual representation. MarketingCharts.com is great because it places marketing data in one centralized location that can be filtered by specific topics. The best part of this resource is it’s free.

SocialBakers: If you haven’t used or heard of SocialBakers before, then you’ve been missing out. They measure social media stats through a variety of segments including by region, brand, industry, entertainment, and more. They offer free and low cost public social media stats as well as specialized reports and professional services. They categorize based on a social channel which is extremely beneficial. If you’ve ever wanted to see how you stack up against competitors through social media then SocialBakers is great for benchmarking.

5 Ways to Take Advantage of, Love, and Understand Data

ORC International: This opinion research organization allows you to choose questions they collected from targeted organizations who answered. You only have to pay for the questions you want answers to. There are other tools like ORC that are more targeted and audience specific and they’ll do the hard work for you.

Google Trends: If you’ve ever wanted to know what was trending online, then Google Trends is where you need to start your search. It’s a good tool if you’re looking to pick up on a movement to connect to for more exposure through social media. But if you’re specifically looking to compare trends across topics it’s even better. Google also has tools to view free trends across industries like Google Finance.

Others: Other places to retrieve data are through resources like Google Adwords, if you’re using paid advertising. Survey Monkey is great for conducting your own research, Google Analytics for web data, and CRM to capture internal customer data; your CRM should be a place your using data. FreeLunch.com offers free and purchasable premium statistics across the web.

Integrating and Representing Your Data

If you’re like most organizations, you have data coming in from many different places and it can be difficult to see how it all connects, even with best practices in place. Integrating your data gives you a fuller view of marketing efforts. The representation of your data is vital to being able to make decisions and comprehending what data is telling you.

You want to keep the integration of your data as simple as possible. You shouldn’t need a data expert to interpret something and others should be able to make the same inferences you do. Tools like Tableau, and Power BI allow you to pull data from social media, web analytics, and any other data into one place to view together and against each other.

How you represent your data is just as important as integrating it. If something simple to interpret is visually represented in a convoluted way it doesn’t do anyone any good. The best way to represent your data well is through dashboards. A dashboard is an at a glance measurement focused on pulling data for organizational goals. Keep your dashboard up to date, visually appealing, and simple enough for you to explain to colleagues. They should also show context through a story. Did you post something on social related to a campaign and received a lot of exposure for it? You should be able to see this through your dashboards.

Metrics that Matter

Your metrics should be centered around your goals and marketing funnel. For example, the metrics painting a picture of your demand generation goals, marketing qualified leads, and revenue are what you should be using. They should be represented in visually appealing way that tells a story. Look at your goals as if they were benchmarks – the goal is to set your metrics to allow visibility into whether or not you’re exceeding, meeting, or under-performing.

Also see: 5 Classic Concepts to Increase the Value of Website Visits – Gathering Additional Persona Data on Visitors

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Just keep in mind that data should be represented in a way that’s easy to understand, tells a story and is important to your organization. If you can do this then you’ll come to really understand and love data.

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