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Use digital insights to boost your brand’s health

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Why read this? : We explore how to pull out digital insights from your data. Then, learn how to use them to make smarter, more customer-focused decisions. Read this to learn how to use digital insights to boost your brand’s health.

Digital marketers love to talk data. Data, data, data. You can’t make decisions without data, they tell you.

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. Marketing decisions are more likely to work when they’re based on what data tells you customers think, feel and do.

So, yes, data is important. It’s why our digital data guide covers areas like :-

  • Sources of digital data.
  • Analytical skills and data user stories.
  • Digital data maturity and using martech

But gathering and organising your digital data is only the starting point. You have to dig into the data to find digital insights to support your digital marketing decisions and delivery.

Insights

Traditional marketers love to talk about insights. An insight is a deep understanding of how customers make their decisions.

You adapt your marketing activities based on these insights. 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. 

Close up of a man's hands holding a light bulb that's illuminated

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.

Stimulate ideas

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. 

Historically, you’d use focus groups and secondary research to gather these facts and observations. 

Yellow post it with illustration of a lightbulb pinned to a wooden pin board

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.

And then you test these out with real customers via qualitative and quantitative research.

But you can also often test these ideas with customers using your digital channels.

Person sharpening the blade of an axe on a grinding machine

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 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 part of your research planning toolkit. 

Put the insight into action

Next, you finalise the insight based on the feedback and start to use it to drive decisions and actions. 

It goes into your briefs. It shapes your innovation plan. Your marketing communications. It goes into your customer experience plan.

All these 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.

Wooden scrabble tlles spelling out Go for it, with a speech bubble calling out action!

Search trends

Search tools like Google Autocomplete, Google Trends and Answerthepublic can help you come up with ideas about what’s going on with customers.

For example, we looked at what people searched for when news of Covid-19 first came out. 

Analysing and reflecting on the data gave us insights into what people were thinking.

We found lots of searches on geographic terms and maps. That suggested people were worried about where the virus was. Either fearing 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.

Google search corona

Of course, not all search trends will be on such a dramatic topic. But search trends are a great source of digital insights.

You use them to stimulate ideas about what’s going on with customers in your category. Searching keywords tells you what’s on their mind right now. That’s a great source of insights.

Customer interactions

You can also look for insight ideas in the data you get when customers interact with you online.

For example, in your :-

  • Digital media.
  • Social media.
  • Websites. 

Digital media

There are 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 they click through, where they click to, and what they do next.

Facebook Audience Insights page screenshot to show digital data source

You can use all this to come up with digital insight ideas. And then test those ideas by running test digital media campaigns. That’s the basic concept which drives the process of A/B testing. (See our advertising evaluation guide for more on this).

Social media

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. 

That means sharing relevant content that’s educational or entertaining, for example. It helps reinforce key parts of your brand identity. e.g. your purpose, values and essence

But you also get data about customers from each of these posts. How many customers see it. How many like, share or comment. What those comments say, and how other customers react and respond to the comments. 

Again, this is all great for stimulating ideas for digital insights. For example, you find out which topics get more reactions. You use these to create new content to go on your different channels and platforms. 

Instagram post saying No Network cables? Thank Dr John O'Sullivan and the team at CSIRO - with a picture of a woman wearing a T-shirt that shows a WiFi symbol and the words Australian Invention

Website

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 drives the most interactions. Which pages never get viewed. 

You should regularly review this type of data to help you come up with digital insights ideas. 

Screengrab of Three-brains home page - headline says "Ready to raise your game? Outthink, outplay and outgrow competitors with three-brains"

You then do more of the things customers seem to like on your website. And less of the things they don’t.

These sorts of digital insights help you drive more engagement and improve your customer experience. Doing that helps you win more customers. 

Competitor analysis

You can also use digital data sources for insights into your competitors.

You can only see what’s in the public domain, so there will be less data. 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.

Blond woman partially hidden behind a leafy bush

This gives you more stimulus for insight ideas. You try to work out why some customers prefer your competitors. That gives you ideas on what you need to do to change that. 

You can also look at customer interactions with competitor’s social media and websites. 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 shows you what’s working for them, and what they’re trying to do with customers. Helpful competitor insights you only get from 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 e-mail 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. 

That’s important for businesses with specific target audiences with specific content needs, such as in B2B marketing.

Customer service headset sitting on a desk next to a laptop

Digital and martech are also key in 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 contact 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

Digital insights don’t just affect digital marketing. They can also affect broader areas such as your :-

  • marketing mix.
  • innovation.
  • D2C e-Commerce. 

Marketing mix

As per our marketing plan guide, there 4 “P”s in the marketing mix.

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.

Examples of the marketing mix 4Ps and 7Ps - product, price, promotion, place, people, process, physical location

What promotion you’ll do including how you’ll advertise, and if you’ll run sales promotions.

And you decide where – the place – your product will be available for customers to buy. 

You can use digital insights to help your decisions in each of these areas.

For example, our secondary research guide 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).

Our most searched on Google article found the most popular search topics were those which focussed on sport and celebrities.

If those were relevant category topics for you, 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.

Innovation

You can also use digital data as part of your innovation process to grow your business. 

As per our Ansoff Matrix article, there are 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 :- 

Ansoff matrix - Marketing innovation options - 2 x2 matrix of new/existing products and markets
  • 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 customer needs. (as keywords give an idea of what customers are looking for). 

Looking at competitor websites and social media can also give you ideas about new segments and their unmet needs. Plus there are 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. 

D2C e-Commerce

There are 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. You aim to keep the interaction ongoing 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. 

Screenshot of the range of T-shirts available in the three-brains shop

In D2C, the data is like your store’s heartbeat. You use it to diagnose what’s going on. 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 drives traffic to your store. How to improve conversions on your product pages. And which CRM and customer service activities drive customer loyalty

You can still do market research to understand what online shoppers want in general. But your digital data helps you generate powerful digital insights about what online shoppers want from you.  

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 how 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 a low cost test out the insights you come up with.

You use the results of these tests all through your brand activation.

Women typing on a laptop with a stethoscope on the desk next to her

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.

Check out our marketing data article for more on this. Or get in touch if you need advice on how to turn your data into better digital insights.

Photo Credit 

Logging on to laptop with stethoscope : Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Marketing Dashboard : Photo by Carlos Muza on Unsplash

Person holding light bulb : Photo by Fachy Marín on Unsplash

Bulb on Post it : Photo by AbsolutVision on Unsplash

Grinding an axe : Photo by C D-X on Unsplash

Go for it (adapted) : Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Woman peeking out from bush : Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Customer service headset near laptop : Photo by Petr Macháček on Unsplash

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