/ 3 Ways for Online Marketers to Become Data Driven, Now

Being data driven is not something that comes naturally to many online marketers. And what’s worse, it’s painfully obvious.

They’ve learned (often from agency settings) one-off tactics like entering alt tags or creating external links that can give search results a boost. And that’s great…right? The problem is that many aren’t considering the longer strategy—are they using the right alt tags? Are they getting links from the shady side of the Internet? Online marketers have to use data to create a strategy, or they’ll eventually land an organization in trouble.

As all forms of marketing are becoming more data-centric, online marketers have no excuse for not staying ahead of the curve. Businesses need online marketers who possess deep understanding of what leads to revenue and profit. It’s no longer sufficient to lead the horse (online prospects) to water (your organization). It’s time to see results. Here are 3 ways to get there:

1. Use Every Piece of Data Available

It sounds simple—even obvious. But the truth is, online marketers are leaving a lot of data on the table.

Here’s an example: when I worked in an agency setting, I was supplementing the work that an in-house online marketer was doing. I got into the data only to find that the in-house marketer hadn’t even implemented PPC conversion tracking on the site. I had to base optimization decisions just on looking at click-through rate metrics!

If you’re not taking full advantage of the basic data that you get from analytics and ad platforms, then you’re missing the most basic pieces of the puzzle.

2. Wrap Your Head Around the Numbers

Once you have the basic data, now take the time to understand it. If you’re in a lead-gen model, how does your cost per lead vary by keyword type or ad group? If you’re in ecommerce, how do sales or profit vary based on referring keywords?

If you don’t understand exactly how the numbers relate, then you’re still involved in guesswork—no matter how many stats or spreadsheets you are running.

3. Go Deep. Really Deep. “Grab Your Scuba Gear” Deep.

The metrics from your analytics and ad platforms are helpful, but they only contain surface-level information if you look at them one at a time. You’ve got to go deeper to get the most value out of your data.

Here are some of my favorite ways to find that hard-to-get data that will make or break your online marketing:

  • Put unique tracking codes in your URLs
  • Pass those tracking codes to your CRM, and watch the effectiveness of various leads in deeper stages of the sales cycle
  • Measure the impact of ad headlines or page headlines on leads further down the funnel
  • You changed the messaging or call to action on a landing page. How did it affect lead quality instead of quantity?

Cost per lead/sale is only the beginning when you can track large deal sizes or purchases back to the message and source, and optimize all by testing constantly.

Online Marketers Are Starting to Get It

It’s certainly true that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. But, making the horse drink isn’t the point of online marketing; it’s about finding the horses who are most likely to drink once they arrive.

Online marketers must move away from shotgun lists of tactics and strategies and embrace the scientific testing that leads to true marketing optimization. When that happens, they will be able to build strategies that build on themselves and provide lasting value.

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