D Is for Data: How to Start Measuring Your Online Marketing

Marketing Data Inbound Definition

“Of course I know what data is,” you say confidently, even dismissively. But do you know all the kinds of data you need for your marketing efforts, and how to utilize it effectively? Let’s find out.

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Data can be almost anything you track in your marketing efforts and use to inform marketing decisions, as well as utilized to report how well those efforts are performing. You can build out a basic report that lays out month-over-month website traffic data, for example, or you can deliver a detailed 100-page report that will cause your boss’s eyes to glaze over like a warm donut.

Key metrics include, but are in no way limited to:

  • Page views
  • Time on site
  • Names and job titles
  • Income
  • Industry and company
  • Email clicks and opens
  • Content offer downloads

That’s a huge range of data. Now what do you do with it? Depending on your role, you may need to show your bosses or clients one or all of the following abilities:

  • Managing, splicing, and organizing data
  • Setting up workflows to leverage existing data
  • Building and executing campaigns based on data
  • Delivering analysis and reports of campaigns and data

You can’t be a marketer and not touch your organization’s data in some way. That means your instincts and gumption can only carry you so far, and you need to be well-educated on what your company and clients need to be tracking. The good news is that if you’ve got a solid grasp on your data, you’re miles ahead of many of your fellow marketers. You can also check out our inbound marketing definitions if you’re looking for more knowledge to support your instinctive smarty-pantsness.

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Why data is important to marketers

Without quantifying what you’re doing, what are you really doing? That’s true in many industries, but it’s especially true in marketing. In our world, month-to-month fluctuations are the norm, Google can pull the rug out from under your feet at any moment with changes to their search algorithm, and best practices shift more often than a cow on a leather sofa.

Marketing data matters.

Data gives weight to every campaign by showing a client how leads are flowing in to their sales team. It adds power to all that brilliant content you’re cooking up when you can show which blog posts have taken off, and the numbers animating your keyword choices in the first place. And when it comes time to wrap up your efforts for the year, you can’t very well meet with your client or boss and say “¯\_(ツ)_/¯” when they ask you how effective the marketing efforts have been over the last 12 months.

In addition, data allows you to run quality marketing campaigns in the first place. Every name, email address, and social media account you have for leads and customers can be used to tailor your messaging and make informed decisions about how you’re connecting with your audiences. This takes on increased importance every single year, as consumers grow savvier and more reluctant to listen to traditional mass marketing and sales pitches.

Of course, not all data is good data, and not every report is a worthwhile report. Any marketer worth his or her salt (and maybe pepper) knows how to sort through mounds of data and pick out what’s important, but if you need help in that effort, my colleague Ryan Durling wrote a great guide to Google Analytics reports.

Besides your raw talent and good looks, marketing data is what is going to keep you in your job over the long haul.

If you skimmed this post…

Hey, you still need to know about data. In the broadest definition, data generally encompasses all the metrics and key information, numbers and otherwise, that you use to determine how effective your efforts really are. It is the backbone of your marketing, and you must master it to know what you’re really measuring.

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