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With fresh players emerging on the retail market every day, the competition is becoming fierce and there’s little room for potentially wrong decisions, made ‘on a hunch’ rather than based on data insights. Retailers and eCommerce companies have to fight for each customer and sale with competition on a global scale, and be able to invest in business development with constantly lower margins. Even the eCommerce giants like Amazon work with operating margins that don’t exceed 5%, so any marketing investments need to be laser-precise, based on data.
A more personalized and relevant approach to customers is key, but it is only possible by analyzing available data to fully understand the target audiences. You need to know your customers before they come to your store, and information and insights need to be shared across departments, to ensure a consistent experience and effective communication to customers. Using data analytics provides retailers and online shops with the advantage of backing every decision with facts. But how to start?
Almost two-thirds of retailers identify a lack of consumer insights as their top data-related pain points. According to research done by ChiefMartec.com, today’s marketing technology landscape consists of more than 8.000 tools and solutions, contributing to the complexity of technology stacks used in companies.
Even with this much tech at hand, in many cases data is still being collected manually from multiple sources, and stored in spreadsheets. This creates a lack of transparency and data silos that need to be broken down if the company wants to progress.
Access to the right data and improving data quality are the first steps in delivering the power of data-driven decision making to the whole organization. Rather than focusing on slow and error-prone manual operations, companies should look for an automated data integration solution that breaks down all data silos and eliminates manual work. This ‘single source of truth’ needs to be accessible by all stakeholders, from marketing, through sales, to logistics and finance departments. And of course, top level management.
If you have the data from all your marketing activities integrated, cleaned and ready for further analysis, you can think about the next steps. Surely you have some type of marketing reporting in place, but it might be worth checking if there is room for improvement.
Firstly, are your dashboards updated automatically? Are you getting all the data points that you need, and can you drill down to identify the real reasons behind trends and changes? If you are looking at outdated and unclear dashboards, your decision making is definitely not optimal, and you should seek for a more reliable and automated reporting solution.
Dashboards should be adapted to your use cases and to the persons that need data insights to make timely and high-quality decisions. A CMO needs different KPIs than an eCommerce manager or a performance marketer, so the dashboards need to be flexible. You need to make sure you can not only easily share the dashboards, but also be able to schedule reports to specific stakeholders. This will ensure that everyone has the latest information as fast and as efficient as possible.
If you operate in a large and complex organization, you might want to set access rights for different departments to ensure every person can also see the data they need. But the essence is – your reporting solution should give you instant access to actionable insights from every source of marketing data. Dynamically updated performance charts will help you to fully understand your investments in ad campaigns and optimize budget allocation. But the journey towards a fully data-driven organization doesn’t stop there.
Do you have a solution that only presents the data in nice graphs, or does it also analyze the data actively and gives actionable recommendations? Using a solution that has these augmented analytics options would allow you to discover insights that you didn’t even know existed, and make additional campaign optimizations that further increase revenue, lower customer acquisition costs, and improve return on ad investment.
With proactive recommendations coming from intelligent analytics, you should not only be able to understand the current situation, but also to predict future customer behavior and buying patterns. By identifying trends and tendencies, the system will help you to make the right decisions in which directions you want to steer your future marketing campaigns, and how to optimize existing ones. Trends discovered on time, while they are just evolving, and used to make strategic direction changes, can be a key tool in the fight against your competition.
Advanced technology based on artificial intelligence and machine learning allow projections of different scenarios on how your campaigns will perform in the future and how trends will evolve. If any anomalies are detected, you will receive a notification and be able to intervene on time, before they make any damage.
With this much data available, it’s practically impossible for any marketer to manually analyze all campaigns on all channels for all metrics all the time. They need an analytics tool that does this instead of them, so they can focus on making the right decisions. With the help of advanced analytics platforms marketers, but also other stakeholders within a retail or eCommerce company, can unlock the full potential of data and gain a significant competitive advantage.