I live in a part of Northern Virginia where server farms grow almost as fast as corn in July. I’m not sure why this area with its relatively expensive real estate attracts data warehouses but the fact remains that Ashburn and surrounding areas feature warehouses that fill the equivalent of an entire city block stacked level on level. A friend asked why the need for increased data storage and I quickly replied that your company survives or fails based on its data asset and how well the business manages that asset.
For those of you who don’t understand the rapidly increasing need for data storage, as my friend questioned, I’m here to outline how to manage your data as the asset it is.
Notice in the graphic above the rapid increase in available data over the last few decades. In just 5 years, the amount of data in the world grew from 8 zettabytes to 40 zettabytes, a difference of 32 zettabytes. Each zettabyte is equal to a trillion gigabytes or something on the order of 3.25 billion computers with average storage capacity. All these zettabytes require storage and the cost of cloud storage dropped precipitously over the last decade or so.
It’s kind of a chicken and egg argument as to which came first, but low-cost storage certainly encourages businesses to retain more of that data. According to one study, the storage cost for a gigabyte of data is a mere $.01, dropping by 26% over just the last few years. AWS (Amazon Web Services) offers pricing much lower than this for high volume, low access users with a cost of $.023 for low volume/ high access users. They even offer free storage for very low-volume users.
The extremely low cost involved in storing data hides the true cost involved in storing data, which relates to the cost of data loss due to cyberthreats or data failures. Your data asset requires careful management to ensure it’s safe and secure, is backed up as a failsafe against data loss or ransomware. The biggest issue in data management, however, is using the data like the asset it is. And, that’s the topic for today’s discussion.
Using your data asset to optimize performance
We’ve talked a lot on these pages about using your website data to its fullest with tools like Google Analytics. And, certainly, there’s a plethora of information you gain by effectively analyzing your website using this powerful, free tool, including:
- Your top-performing pages – so you can create similar pages
- Bounce rate and bounce by page to identify problem pages for editing
- Visitors by age, gender, and location – to determine if you’re attracting your target market
- Conversion by age, gender, and location to see who’s buying your products
- Differences based on the device used to figure out if your website looks great on different screens
- Why do visitors abandon shopping carts on your site?
- and, much, much more
However, don’t stop with Google Analytics. You can assess analytic tools on most social platforms to help optimize performance on those marketing channels, as well. You can even track your competition with tools like Alexa and a host of paid options to see how you perform against these websites.
IoT or the internet of things is only getting started. If you own any remote equipment, IoT-enabled devices warn you they’re about to overhead, they need maintenance, or any other factor related to your device to guard against unexpected expenses and failures.
New devices, such as the ones shown below, also help turn your analog equipment into an IoT-enabled device, allowing remote monitoring.
Capturing data from your devices not only helps avoid costs but monitoring performance allows you to forecast and plan for future needs.
Other IoT devices manage day-to-day operations to optimize human performance. For instance, smart offices regulate temperature, lighting, and other comfort needs based on individual preferences or occupancy by only heating/ cooling rooms when occupied and turning off lights when no one’s using a space, thus lowering costs while still providing for individual comfort.
Email marketing analytics
Email marketing data is somewhat elusive because many email marketing clients fail to deliver must beyond open rate, click-through rate (CTR), and deliverable numbers. That doesn’t help optimize performance very much, especially when you consider that segmented email lists far outperform those lacking effective segmentation. According to this source, when you send an email soon after signup based on the interests of the subscriber, you increase open and CTR by up to 30%.
Transferring this data to your subscriber list automatically is challenging. Sure, you get the date of signup automatically, but capturing key segmentation variables is more challenging. Certain software programs do capture clickstream data you can import to a customer record and you do have information about prior purchases. That’s a start.
But, with careful tracking, you can go beyond these tools to further optimize list performance using segmentation. I’m currently working on a project for a client where we’re doing exactly that. Here’s what we’re able to do by mining their email statistics:
- Monitor high-performing subject lines and headers; using a word cloud containing the top headlines (those with abnormally high open and click rates) we identified about 25 words that help inform new subject lines and headers for segments of the newsletter.
- Segment the list based on their pattern of opens and clicks to determine which product interests the subscriber. Using this data, my client can customize the newsletter to focus on interests for individual subscribers.
- Identify leads for the salesforce based on the pattern of opens and clicks. We developed a scoring mechanism with each open and click valued based on the intent reflected by the behavior.
Social media analytics
Social media platforms similarly provide little data to users and much of that data, including fan and follower counts, are totally meaningless. Only engagement (comments, shares, RT, etc) matters in social media, as this not only amplifies your message to new users, it shows a true interest in your brand.
You can get some valuable data through Google Analytics by looking for the source/medium driving visits and conversion. Using multi-channel attribution modeling, offered by Google Analytics, allows you to apportion your conversion across the multiple channels contributing to that conversion across the, often, multiple visits it takes to reach a sale. Below are examples of some multi-channel realities.
Using event tracking and tags also help track the performance of your social media marketing efforts. Both work by adding tracking information to a URL. For instance, with tags, you add something at the end of a URL for your landing page to code extra tracking information. Here’s an example of a tag:
The unhighlighted part of this tag is navigational — it delivers the user to the right URL. The “?” tells the search engine to ignore all the information after the question mark but capture the information for analytics tracking. UTM_campaign is a user-designated campaign, utm_medium tells you this was a social post and utm_source identifies the source as a Facebook post. When a user clicks the link, Google Analytics captures the information and displays it in the site content section. By crafting tags for various campaigns and identifying where you posted the URL, you can easily track the performance of your campaigns.
Maybe because you’re paying for it, advertising offers some of the richest analytics outside of website analytics. Whether you use Google Ads for search and display advertising or a social platform, you commonly get reach and frequency data, CTR, and other data, depending on the platform. Linking your Google Ads account to Google Analytics allows you to determine ROAS (return on ad spend) as well as track clicks from advertising to conversion.
Your data asset is one of the most critical assets for your business but only if you can draw insights from the data. Otherwise, your data sits there not doing any good and is no longer an asset.
I hope I gave you a taste of how you can use this asset to help improve ROI through making better decisions across your digital marketing efforts. Of course, I wasn’t able to go into a lot of detail in terms of deriving insights from your data but you can check out some other posts on this site for more depth on specific ways to use your data asset.
- Website analytics
- Email analytics
- Multi-channel attribution modeling
- Predictive analytics
- Digital Analytics
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