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Could you be your own data scientist?

What’s your way with numbers?

We’re living in the era of data-driven marketing. Data fuels our daily marketing activities, powers our achievements and drives our innovations. It’s clear to anyone in the B2B space right now that data is here to stay, and that data is a specialised skill. It’s not enough to gather numbers; the real work lies in selecting the right numbers, analysing them with insight and proposing useful solutions.

Data is hard to get right

Let’s not sugar-coat things. Top tier, holistically data-driven marketing is a promised land which even the biggest and most successful organisations aspire to. We are all trying our best at data, but few of us are getting it right across the board.

As BDB CEO Matt Smith says, “in reality, the average business has not gathered anywhere near the amount of data they’d actually need to execute a sophisticated, data-driven campaign.”

The key word here is “sophisticated”.  A lot of us are holding a lot of useless data in indecipherable dumps, doing next to nothing with it. What we actually need is useful, relevant data which has been gathered with purpose and intent.

Data-driven marketing has so much untapped potential which we’re slowly beginning to explore: the big data analytics market is set to be worth $103 billion by 2023. But this potential can only be achieved when we approach data with a focused, problem-solving mindset. If we know what we want to achieve with data, or which problem we want to solve, then we can decide which data sources to use and which data points we need in order to find a specific solution. We can retrieve data in a targeted fashion; being selective makes data easier to take in and to apply.  

Across the board, B2B marketers in various segments are putting data-driven marketing at the top of their yearly agenda and their career development goals. The question is, will you get it right or will you get left behind?

Most organisations aren’t confident of the quality of their data and find it hard to make sense of what information they already have. Why? Because they haven’t assembled the skillset to deal with data wisely. How to get that skillset? It’s simple: either you hire, or you educate. Bring in data scientists to rocket power your marketing or invest in the people around you who show an aptitude for the art of data. Either way, you must invest in the future to make the most of the opportunities which data presents. The first step is to educate yourself, so you can make the right choice for your business.

3 key tips for data-driven marketers

1.  Seek authentic connections

Yes, data helps you to craft average and ideal buyer personas, but always remember that buyers are not just personas. You aren’t selling to a collection of traits or even to a company: you are making connections with real, live, vulnerable human people. You are seeking mutual benefit, offering customers the best service so that their brand can offer genuine endorsement of your brand, born of real experience and a real relationship.

2.  Look for unexpected insight

Yes, it’s important to start with an end goal in mind, and to gather data with the aim of crafting or supporting a particular brand story, positioning or USP. But it’s equally important to seize upon insight wherever it strikes. Let’s say you’re undertaking research to understand the wider needs and wants of a particular buyer group. What if you find overlap between your buyers’ interests or behaviours and another consumer group you had never considered before? Did you just discover a new audience?

3. Don’t forget context

The fact is, numbers only tell half the story. If you always take them at face value, you’re likely to run into some misunderstandings. Data can tell you an individual’s likes, dislikes, clicks, purchases, locations, opinions and more, but it’s less clear on their insecurities, fears, mental health issues, changing moods and whims. Data is not the same thing as insight: insight can only be achieved when you put data in context derived from experience and intuition.

Whether you hire a data scientist, train one, or become one, you must always approach data with a scientist’s mindset. You can gather, measure, group and interpret data in different ways to achieve different aims, whether it’s to focus your current targeting efforts or to underpin your future strategies. In fact, the question is not so much can you be a data scientist, but rather, what type of data scientist are you?

Now is the time for businesses to pool relevant data in preparation for advanced data-driven campaigns later down the line. We’ve created a brand-new guide to help B2B marketers get on track.

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