Executive Insider

4 Data Sources for Driving Sound Business Decisions

There is no shortage of business analytics for data-driven decision-making. Leaders can use all kinds of information, such as consumer demographics, household data, and purchase history to shape business strategies.

Moreover, data can also provide a glimpse into deep insights about social behavior, lifestyles, and even geospatial information. These layers of data can help you build extensive customer profiles and perform segmentation of your target audience.

You also need to know where to look and what tools to use to find the information necessary to improve your data-driven decision-making in business.

Find the Tools Necessary to Get the Information You Want

When you don’t have the right business tools and technologies available for data-driven decision-making, you can’t really understand your target audience or market. You can’t evaluate the effectiveness of your campaigns because you lack hard facts and numbers. You could very well be squandering your marketing budget, but you ultimately can’t say for sure.

Too often, top executives don’t even know where critical consumer data is stored — or how it’s organized. They can’t look at buyer behavior patterns or work on audience segmentation and targeting when they can’t easily access this information.

By contrast, when you ensure data quality and integrity, every department benefits. The advantages of this approach include:

  1. Marketers can see how prospects and customers engage with the brand.
  2. Management can examine how sales and marketing investments are converting (or not converting) into revenue.
  3. Product development and operations teams will know what’s selling, what’s not, and how they can streamline inventory, production, and fulfillment processes.

It’s not just about having the right tools, though. Once you have those tools, you have to know how to develop your sources to give you access to the data you need most.

The Best Sources for Data-Driven Decision-Making in Business

Before you become overwhelmed trying to build customer profiles from imposing mountains of data, focus on compiling the information you need from these four places:

  1. Target Audience
    You’re marketing your products or services to real people with real lives. When you build customer profiles, they should be rooted in target audience insights that are true to those personalities and experiences.
    This means you want as complete a picture of your target customers as possible. Look at age, gender, education and income. Figure out how they would use your products. Know the channels — offline or online — where you can reach them. If you’re doing B2B marketing, look at their responsibilities and what roles they play in shaping decisions at their companies.
    The more information you can collect, and the more you’re able to ensure data quality and integrity, the more true to life your customer profiles will be.
  2. Sales History
    Looking at buyer behavior patterns can help you move your customer profiles from the theory to reality. This is where you see how those customers are actually spending their money.
    Customer data platforms can show you a wide range of actionable information about sales history. You can see which products are selling in which markets, which ones aren’t, and which marketing efforts are driving those sales.
    This data allows you to adjust product development plans, improve sales and marketing strategies, and better identify new opportunities. This is what data-driven decision-making in business looks like.
  3. Marketing Engagement and Response Levels
    Now you’re expanding your data beyond purchasing decisions alone. Here, you want to see what kind of responses your marketing efforts are inspiring.
    This takes the rest of your customer profiles and the segmentation of your target audience to the next level. Your main aim should be figuring out how well you’re personalizing your campaigns and products for your specific audience segments.
    A McKinsey survey found that only 15% of CMOs think their companies are effectively personalizing their products and marketing efforts. To better evaluate how well this is working for your business, look at likes and engagement on social media, click-throughs, and purchase follow-throughs. Find what’s relevant so you can build on it.
  4. Traffic and Conversions
    When you’re evaluating campaign success, website traffic is undoubtedly an important piece of information. In theory, the more people you have landing on your site, the greater your sales potential.
    But it’s only one piece of the puzzle — and it’s far less critical than conversions, which is one of the most vital business analytics for data-driven decision-making. No matter how many people come to your site, there’s no new revenue unless those prospects convert to customers.
    So, yes, collect emails and other contact information so you can reach out to new prospects and generate more traffic. But look at what those prospects are doing once they get to your site. This is the only way you can improve your site experience and drive more sales.

When making decisions in business, understanding which information to evaluate is as essential as understanding how to ensure data integrity.
When you know where to look — and you have the tools to do it right — anything is possible.

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Tripp Lantz
Tripp Lantz is the president and CEO of Pearl. Tripp has a history of bringing disruptive technologies to market; his experience spans the capital market from commercial and specialized lending to private equity to early stage VC investing. Pearl is set to play a prominent role in the emerging customer data platform market, applying human cognition to big data while changing how digital relationships are built and retained. Tripp Lantz is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow him on LinkedIn.