Why read this? : We share how digital insights help you grow your brand. Learn how to find them and use them to drive decisions and actions. We show where they make the biggest marketing impact. Read this to learn how to use digital insights to boost your brand’s health.
That’s not quite right though, is it?
You can make decisions without data. But they’ll usually be worse decisions. Data helps you make better decisions. Decision based on what’s going on in the market. What’s going on with customers.
Because data comes from what customers do.
And your marketing decisions are better when they’re based on what customers do.
Gathering and organising data is important. But it’s only the start of the story.
You need to analyse the facts the data gives you. Work out what’s important. Then you use those insights to make decisions about what you need to do. That’s where you see see the real value. When you can pull insights out of your digital data to drive better decisions and actions.
Traditional marketers love to talk insights. An insight is a deep understanding about how customers make their decisions.
You adapt your marketing activities based on these insights and that’s how you win more customers.
So these marketers will say, do your market research. Talk to customers. Ask them questions. Get under their skin and into their heads.
Use new approaches like behavioural science to understand why customers do what they do.
And yes, those are all helpful. But they cost money and take time. And there are other ways to come up with insights, especially using your digital data.
To understand why, think about the key steps which go into creating an insight :-
- stimulate ideas for the insight.
- refine and test those ideas to confirm the insight.
- put the insight into action.
You first need ideas. Hypotheses of what the insight could be.
To come up with these, you need materials to stimulate your thinking. Facts about what customers do. Observations of how they do things.
You use these to prompt ideas about what’s driving customer attitudes and behaviours.
Nowadays though, most secondary research is digital. And there are many digital data sources you can use to prompt your insight ideas. You generate ideas about why customers do things, based on what you see them doing digitally in areas like your :-
Refine and test
Next you need to refine these insight ideas and turn them into actual insights.
That’s normally when you do market research. You turn the insight ideas into research questions. You create concepts you can show customers.
But you can also often test these ideas with customers using your digital channels.
For example, you show different versions of your digital media to different segments. You run A/B tests on your website. You test ideas with customers in your CRM program or in your D2C store (if you have these).
These are all channels you control. You can use them to share content and get direct feedback from customers. They can often be faster and cheaper for testing ideas and concepts than traditional market research channels. It’s also observed data, so there’s no interviewer bias to worry about.
It may not work for every research question and concept. But digital should always be an option you think about in your research planning.
Put the insight into action
Next, you finalise the insight based on the feedback you get, and start to apply it. You use it to drive decisions and actions.
All these areas usually have a digital element. So you can take your digital insight and apply it in digital channels quickly and at scale.
Let’s look at some examples.
For example, we looked at what people searched on when news of Covid-19 first came out.
Analysing and reflecting on the data gave us insights about what people were thinking.
For example, there were lots of searches on geographic terms and maps. That suggested people were worried about where the virus was. Either because they feared for their own health or that of friends and families overseas.
Our insight at the time was people wanted to feel safe. Brands needed to show empathy and understanding for how customers were feeling.
Of course, not all search trends will be on such a dramatic topic. But search trends are a great source of digital data and insights.
You use them as stimulus for ideas about what’s going on with customers in your category. Search keywords tells you what’s on their mind right now. That’s a great area to look for insights.
You can also look for insight ideas in the data you get when customers interact with you digitally.
For example, in your :-
- Digital media.
- Social media.
There’s 2 main ways of doing digital media.
You go direct through channels like Facebook and Google. And / or you run display adverts on other websites. How much you spend on each is usually driven by data.
Digital media sellers share their data so you know you’re getting your adverts in front of the right customers, at the right time and in the right contexts.
You can access data to see how many people see your advert. How long they view it. Whether they interact with it in any way. And if the click through, where they click to and what they do next.
The same principles apply to social media. This type of content usually has a different goal.
It’s about connecting with customers. There’s less pushing your brand.
But you also get data about customers from each of these posts. How many customers see it. How many like it, share it or comment on it. What those comments say, and how other customers react and respond to the comments.
Again, this is all great as stimulus for ideas for digital insights. For example, you find out which topics which get more positive reactions. You then use these to create new content to go on your different channels and platforms.
Finally, there’s your website. The hub of your digital channels is a huge source of digital data.
Tools like Google Analytics capture data about what customers do on your website, for example.
Which pages they visit. How long they spend on each page. How many other pages they visit. Which content drive the most interactions. Which pages never get looked at.
You should regularly review this type of data to help you come up with digital insights ideas.
You then do more of the things customers seem to like on your website. And less of the things they don’t.
These are the sorts of digital insights which you use to improve your customer experience and drive more engagement. Doing those things helps you win more customers.
You can also use these digital data sources for insights into your competitors.
You can only see what’s in the public domain. That’ll be less data than you’ll get from your own channels. But you can still use it to find ideas and insights.
For example, you can look at how competitors rank on search terms. Sites like Ahrefs, Moz and SEMrush help you analyse competitor websites. You can look at which keywords they prioritise, what links they have and what they rank on.
This gives you more stimulus for insight ideas. You try to work out why some customers prefer your competitors. And that leads you to look for ideas on how to change that.
For example, how many customers react and comment on posts? Which topics get the most interactions? This gives you an insight into what customers think about your competitors.
You can also analyse competitor websites to see which types of content they highlight. This will show you what’s working for them, and what they’re trying to do with customers. Both of these are helpful insights which come up of looking at their digital channels.
CRM programs and customer service
You can also use the data from other parts of your customer experience to look for digital insights.
For example, if you have a CRM program. You can look at email open rates and clicks to see which type of content drives the most engagement. Engagement is when a customer actively interacts with something you’ve done.
Digital and martech is also a key part of your customer service system.
Your contact details are on your website. Customers contact you to ask questions, make complaints and sort out order issues if you run your own online store.
Each contacts creates more data about the customer. What questions they have. What they complain about. Where and when they have issues. You can then analyse this across all your customer data, to look for more insight ideas.
Digital insights go beyond digital marketing
These are Product, Price, Promotion and Place.
These are the key areas where you decide what your marketing will do. (Note that service businesses have an extra 3 Ps – physical location, people and process, but we won’t cover those here).
So you decide what your product will look like and what it will do for example.
You decide what the price will be, and if you’ll offer any discounts.
For example, in our secondary research guide, we looked at how to use Google Autocomplete and Google Trends to look for innovation ideas about vegan ice cream.
That data gave us some marketing mix ideas on possible insights around :-
- product development (vegan ice cream cake).
- place (near me, Coles, Woolworth, specific cities, towns and suburbs).
If those were relevant topics for your category, you could use this to shape what you write about in your social media and other promotional work.
You can also look at online retailer sites to track pricing in the market. Both your own pricing and that of competitors. You can do this manually or use automated tools like the one from Edge by Ascential.
You can also use digital data as part of your innovation process. Innovation helps you grow your business.
As per our Ansoff Matrix article, there’s 4 main ways for businesses to grow.
First, there’s market penetration.
That’s where you grow share by improving existing products and selling them to more of your existing customers. You improve your existing marketing mix.
But you can also grow via :-
- new products (product development).
- new markets (market development).
- new products AND new markets (diversification).
You can use digital data to look for ideas and insights in these new areas.
For example, you can look through Google Trends for product development ideas based on unmet customers needs. (as keywords give an idea of what customers are looking for).
Plus there’s all the insights lurking in your own customer feedback. In your social media, CRM responses and customer service questions. These can give you ideas about unmet needs. You just need to link them into your innovation process so you do something with them.
There’s many benefits to setting up your own online D2C store.
The direct connection you have with customers. The flexibility in your commercial mix from not selling via a retailer. And your control over all elements of the customer experience.
You control all the interactions with them. From the first contact via digital media to their first order. Your aim is to keep the interaction on-going until they eventually become regular, loyal customers.
Digital data helps you join this all together. It tells you what’s going on at each step of the customer’s journey. It drives how you interact with them.
In D2C, the data’s like the heartbeat of your store. You use it to diagnose what’s going on. And what you need to do about it. You do that by converting the data to insights, and then those insights into action.
For example, you learn which content gets customers to visit your store. How to drive conversions by the way you set up your online store and product pages. And which CRM activities and customer service support creates loyal customers.
Conclusion - digital insights
Digital data adds a whole new perspective to understanding what’s going on with customers and with your business.
It doesn’t replace market research. But it expands the ways in which you can track customer interactions. And that’s a valuable source of ideas and insights.
You can then use your digital channels to quickly and at low cost test out the insights you come up with.
You use the results of these tests all through your brand activation.
In your marketing mix as you try to grow your market share. As inputs into your innovation process as you look at new ways to grow. And to set up a better customer experience via your CRM program and D2C store.
Marketing starts with understanding the customer. Digital data gives you many new ways to do that. Being able to turn that data into digital insights and actions is a great way to improve your brand’s health.