Data Science for Marketers: What Customer Analytics Do You Need for Digital Marketing?

Data driven digital marketing. Great buzzword but what data should a business gather to get a view of their customers?

Vin Vashishta | Originally Published: March 14th, 2015

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The conversation about digital is pretty loud. So is the conversation about marketing analytics. Where most voices start trailing off is how the two work together. I hear a lot of “use analytics to get to know your customer” or “use analytics to measure digital effectiveness.” That is a great sound bite but there are real questions around how to make that work which require a clearer picture.

Customer 360

Customer 360 is a set of analytics that helps paint a rich picture of a company’s customer base. This is demographics on steroids. There are a few high-level categories that customer 360 breaks down into:

  • Behavioral Analytics
  • Preference Analytics
  • Social Analytics

  • Customer 360 allows a marketing team to reach customers in a very personal way. I will get deeper into that concept in a bit. It makes interacting with customers like talking to a friend you have known for years. Armed with this data and some automation, a marketing team can utilize digital marketing channels to build a personal relationship between the brand and the customer.

    The Analytics of 360

    Social analytics is the most basic of the 360 types to understand. Who do your customers know? Who do they trust and get their information from when making buying decisions? Who influences their brand preferences? Who do they influence and inform? You can get their network from social media: Instagram, Facebook, Pintrest, Twitter, etc. That is why likes/favorites/retweets/pins/etc. are so valuable. They open up a rich dataset about your customers. Scan through their networks for known influencers and use surveys to discover new ones.

    Preference analytics is all about what your customers like. What topics interest them? What content types attract and entertain them? What platform(s) do they use (smartphone, tablet, PC, Laptop, TV, etc.)? Again, social media plays a huge role. By looking at the content they create and share, a business can get a picture of how they see themselves. A successful brand reflects that picture back at them using topics, content types and platforms they prefer. Here again you can see the tie back to digital marketing.

    Behavioral analytics looks at how customers act. This type of analytics is more costly to gather but also a lot more insightful. This helps a marketing team compare the hypothetical customer picture (this is who they say they are) to the actual customer picture (this is what they do…who they really are). Measure every customer behavior around the path to purchase you can. I usually advise targeted information gathering but behavioral data points are the exception. Everything is important. If a customer interacts with a brand (not just yours) through ad clicks, social media, content, browsing your website, research, buying, etc. it is important to capture that data.

    Presentation – Bringing Your Team into The Mix

    Presentation is one of the most important parts of the digital marketing, analytics mix. Software is pretty smart, but people are still much faster and a lot smarter. Automating the data gathering and number crunching of customer 360 is the right thing to do. The next step is putting all that data in front of people in a format that they can understand and use. That means how the data is presented is important. There is no 1 size fits all answer here. Keep playing with different data visualization techniques until you find what works for your team. If someone does not get it, that’s not that person’s fault. It was not presented well. That attitude will keep the intimidation factor down.

    Building a digital strategy starts in this presentation. It will not show everything about every customer. That is fine. You do not know everything about all your friends, and you are still able to have meaningful interactions. In fact, many of the best ones are where you discover something new about each other.

    Digital marketing is much the same. Give your digital brand a name. I know that’s kind of creepy, but this is how the best in the world do it. Have your team use the customer 360 analytics to create a digital persona those customers would get along with. What does your digital persona like to write about? That is your content marketing strategy. How does your digital persona choose who to start a conversation with? What channels and platforms does it use to start the conversation? That will help with programmatic. How does it find out new things about the people it meets? That is your surveying and A/B testing strategy. What does it tweet about? What is on its wall? What kind of pictures does it find interesting and funny? That is the social media marketing strategy.

    Digital marketing covers a ton of other channels and approaches. Which ones are most effective at reaching your customers is the next set of analytics? I will pull that together in a part 2 post.