Marketing has drastically progressed over the past decade. When once a simple flyer or a highway billboard may have been sufficient, the digital revolution has forced marketers to evolve and adapt along with it. Now, marketers have more tools than ever at their disposal, and through thoughtful execution, they can create the most effective strategies possible.

Generally speaking, good marketing boils down to knowing your target audience and being able to connect with them on a meaningful level. In order to do this, you need to gain useful information—or data—about your consumers. Successful marketers will take this valuable knowledge and use it to develop a powerful strategy that will continually adapt based on the results.

Data-Driven Strategies

Getting acquainted with your consumers

Strong data-driven marketing strategies rely on the insights you gain from your target demographics. There are a variety of ways to obtain the information you need (and these can differ based on your business and intended audience), but the following suggestions are great places to start.

Evaluate your analytics

Analytics data is one of the most advantageous marketing tools a brand can have. Over the years, Analytics has become more and more specific, to the point where it is able to give marketers a near complete profile of the people that visit their website and/or social media pages, including details on their purchasing habits.

These visitors provide a great pool from which to draw information about your audiences, and determine if you’re attracting the people you need to be attracting. From age, gender, and location to device, pathway, and page clicks, Analytics gives brands knowledge to leverage to their advantage.

But analytics isn’t just about capturing the right people’s attention, it’s also about creating the best, most personalized shopping experience for customers. Take the British fashion brand Burberry for example, which has created one of the most efficient customer databases in the luxury industry. Their 360 Customer View integrates their online and offline channels to ensure that store employees are always prepared to best service clientele, and that marketers receive an extremely detailed picture of their audience. “Through this data-driven shopping experience, every customer can digitally share their shopping preferences, experiences, and buying history. The information of a particular customer visiting a store can, therefore, be delivered to store employee’s tablets in real time.”

Just ask—and most importantly, LISTEN

Like most things in life, if you need an answer, the simplest thing to do is to ask the question. Collecting data from your consumers is no exception. Sounds easy enough, right? If you want to gain insight on potential consumers—insight that perhaps goes beyond the bounds of tools such as Analytics—ask them to complete a brief survey, post questions to your social media, and encourage discussions that can shed additional light onto who your consumers are and what they’re looking for. You may be surprised to find just how eager some customers are to offer their opinions! Be sure to listen carefully and translate their answers into actions.

Coca Cola is one of the many big-name brands using data to stay better connected to its customers—and this is why they’ve managed to stay one step ahead of the competition. Even way back in 2015, Justin De Graaf, Director of Data Strategy and Precision Marketing at The Coca-Cola Company, was lauding the many benefits data offers for customer retention. “Data plays an increasingly important role in marketing and product development. Consumers do a great job of sharing their opinions with us – either by phone, email or social networks – that allow us to hear their voice and adjust our approach. We often talk about why we have two ears and one mouth – it’s better to listen more than we speak. This holds true with our approach on consumer input. Data is also helping us create more relevant content for different audiences.”

Monitor online outlets

It’s time for you to play detective. If you want to find out how to best connect with your audience, you need to think like your audience. Put yourself in their shoes. Visit the sites they are likely to visit, read their testimonials, view their comments, look at their complaints, and put together a comprehensive profile that you can then target strategically.

There are plenty of tools that can help you monitor your mentions and view online discussions pertaining to your brand or your competitors. Apps such as Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Klout, Keyhole and Buffer are just a handful of examples.

Tito’s Handmade Vodka brand uses Sprout Social, and have been happy with what it has helped them accomplish. “Sprout’s analytics let us see what is working–we can listen better to our customers and react appropriately,” says Nicole Brentwood, VP of Brand Marketing, “It’s an incredible platform to get a macro look at what’s happening with your brand’s voice in the social space. It aggregates that information and really creates one solid picture for us to understand the feedback loop.”

Creating a strategy from your data

This is the part where you determine how these results translate to your marketing strategy, and then implement them accordingly. Use the data you’ve gathered in the various steps above to create a potent marketing strategy. The data should reveal things such as the channels you should be using to best engage with your consumers, what content best captures the attention of your target audience, what your consumers value in their brands, how they prefer to communicate, how often they’re online, etc.

It helps to approach this process in a scientific manner—let the data lead you to your solution. Web marketing strategist Alberto Mariutto writes in an article entitled Digital Marketing: Why a data-driven strategy is fundamental that, “we (marketers) don’t choose which direction to go in: it’s the numbers, the statistics, that decide for us. Our ability lies in identifying the right numbers, reading them correctly, understanding what actions they suggest, and putting them into practice in the best possible way. Everything combined – here and now – with the right dose of creativity.”

It’s essential to remember that your marketing strategy should always be evolving based on what your data results tell you. Careful attention to your analytics and to what your target demographics are saying will help you continually activate the right strategy for your brand, at any given time. With perseverance and adaptability, you’ll be well on your way to optimizing your marketing movements from the inside out.

Ellan Dineen is the Marketing Associate at Design Wizard. When she’s not hard at work in the Marketing Department, Ellan can be found en route to foreign lands with a book in her hand and a podcast in her ear. With a Master’s in English and Diploma in Social Media Marketing, she knows the importance of staying up-to-date with the industry’s latest trends and insights and is keen to pass these tips on to her readers

It’s easy to get excited watching the number of “likes” and “re-tweets” accumulate. You feel important, like someone is listening to you and agrees with your brand. But does the number of “likes” you get on a social media post translate to brand recognition and more sales?

Counting your follows and tracking the amount of “likes” or “favorites” you get is an easy way to track success but it’s missing a few key metrics like, why people liked the post and whether or not the post converted anyone from a prospect to a sale. There are a lot of reasons why someone might click the like button on your Facebook business page or post including things that have nothing to do with your business, like the fact that their friend liked it or maybe because they thought the image you used was cute or funny. You’re not really going to find out if your social media accounts are making an impact until you start engaging with your followers.

Engagement is the conversation that happens about your brand online, it could be between you and your customers or it could be between your customers and their sphere of influence. With engagement an intentional action takes place that raises awareness about your business, your article or your post. Interaction is a much better validity test to your social media endeavors.

So how is engagement measured? There are several paid services out there but you can do some research yourself for free as well. Here are three easy and cheap ways to track your engagement:

  • Track individual accounts yourself. Facebook has a tab called “Facebook Insights” that makes tracking engagement a snap. Remember you are looking for comments and shares as well as likes and post clicks. For other social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram you can track the number of “@ mentions” and comments your posts generate.
  • Klout – Klout is a free web app that helps you track your posts popularity and level of engagement all in one.Klout logo.
  • Cloze – also free, this web app will not only track your engagements but also your online relationships, alerting you when you’ve been neglecting people and posts that you should be paying better attention to.Cloze logo.