Best-in-class marketers are 56% more likely to use data and analytics platforms. Why? Because the best marketers know that data, when used well, is the best way to get results.

Marketing reports can indicate which strategies are working and which ones need to be reworked or canned completely. Unfortunately, to get that kind of insight out of all those colorful charts and graphs, you have to know what the data means. Without properly interpreting the numbers, marketing strategies will stagnate.

These days there’s no shortage of data to interpret. Between first-party and third-party analytics reporting on just about every digital touchpoint, sorting through all that information is overwhelming.

The good news is marketers and businesses don’t need to understand every single, little piece of data that comes through, but what they do need is an understanding of which data points, specifically, affect their goals.

Keep reading for tips on how to take those raw percentages and turn them into future marketing strategies that will fine tune your efforts.

Tips for Turning Marketing Data Into Actionable Results

1. Consider What Data is Truly Important for Your Business

A common question from business owners is “What marketing data should I be paying attention to?” and while that’s an understandable question, it’s the wrong one.

When businesses ask this, they are looking for industry standards that they can use to gauge their own success. Unfortunately, looking exclusively at benchmarks and industry averages can distract from the main goals. While these are a great place to start, they only gauge broad goals and tell you nothing about if a specific campaign is on its way to reaching its strategic goals.

Every business’s needs are unique and what qualifies as success will vary depending on the business, the campaign, and sometimes even the week. When it comes down to optimizing a marketing strategy, hitting benchmarks in your industry for email open rates isn’t a very helpful metric if the goal is to get more views on a specific video. Maybe people opened, but did they click where they were supposed to?

That’s the beauty of data, it’s specific to your business and its goals. You get to decide which metrics help to tell the story of success and then use those to definitively say yes, this was an effective campaign or no, we have more work to do.

Just because there is a plethora of data right at our fingertips doesn’t mean it’s all necessary. As A. Lee Judge from Content Monsta said, “All data isn’t useful data, and more data isn’t better data.”

2. Have a Regular Reporting Frequency

The number one mistake businesses make when it comes to using their data is not reporting. Many companies use native reporting dashboards from their various marketing stacks but don’t compile that data into an actionable report that can be applied moving forward. If you’re guilty of this, don’t worry! You can start changing that today.

If you’ve been wondering why your general, system-generated reports don’t seem to give you a lot of valuable information, it’s because they’re not meant to. Looking at a dashboard full of numbers is just that, looking at a dashboard full of numbers. Without someone to interpret the numbers and explain how they correlate to the campaign, these numbers can’t be turned into usable actions.

Of course, dedicating time to creating reports is an investment in your marketing strategy and it’s not one worth skipping. We get it. No one likes reporting. Well, except for the data scientists of the world, you’re a special breed. Most of us cringe at the thought of having to put together another report, but these analytics will help guide every marketing decision to come.

Having someone on the team dedicated to reporting also means that you’ll be able to increase reporting frequency which will help catch optimizations that can be made while a campaign is running, not just after.

At least once a month is a given, but big initiatives should have a regular reporting schedule built in at the start, in the middle, and towards the end so that successes and improvements can be noted throughout.

3. Create the Story for Your Data

That old saying “data without context is meaningless” is thrown around a lot because it’s true. Numbers without background are simply numbers and there’s not much we can do with them. It’s like someone telling you that they received 3000 pageviews and asking if that’s good. Well, the answer depends on whether that was in an hour, in one day, or in one year? Was there paid traffic being sent to the page or was it all organic? Without context, that’s not an answer we can provide.

With data, there is always a story waiting to be told and a good data marketer will be able to paint the picture for you. Is the campaign succeeding in converting leads? Is the ad attracting enough clicks to the landing page? Are people filling out the form on the landing page to submit their UGC content?

The data will have the answers for you. Think of your goal as a mystery and your data points are the clues along the way. To solve the mystery and answer your question, review the story of the data.

For example, to find out if an ad is attracting enough leads to the landing page a marketer might start by reviewing the total number of impressions on the ad or the number of clicks back to the landing page. They could also review total ad spend, bounce rates on the landing page, performance between different ads, and best performing ad placements.

What does all this work do? It gives you a comprehensive look at what’s happening along the customer journey. With all these data points the marketer could determine that ad spend and impressions are where they need to be but people are not clicking on the ad when they see it. This would signal that a change in content could fix the problem.

4. Do Comprehensive Strategy Reassessments Each Quarter

Did you know that 81% of marketers consider implementing data into their strategies somewhat to extremely complicated? That’s most of us! If you’ve been feeling like you’ve been lacking in the data department, you’re not alone.

One way to make this less overwhelming is to do a quarterly strategy check-in where all the past data is taken into account in reviewing marketing initiatives. Setting aside time may seem tedious but being able to group together and review everything from social media and email to website traffic and ads can really highlight where the strategy has been low and improve from there.

Reviewing data in a silo also can lead to blind spots that are eliminated when all strategies and their overlapping pieces can be seen together. This also gives marketing departments opportunities to learn from each other.

Tying It All Together

Data, when used appropriately, helps marketers make strategic and specific changes that are focused on completing goals and proving ROI. Without data to inform, marketing strategies can never truly be optimized.

Of course, having all the data you need and in the right place is the first step to being able to use it. Creating a shared doc, folder, or data chart that connects these is a great place to start for smaller teams. Larger marketing departments will want to consider an analytics solution that can tie information from various sources in one dashboard that’s easy to access for everyone on the team.

To find out if SharpSpring is the right fit for your business’s data needs, request a demo today!

Naseem Shah