It’s not cheap, or easy, for a company to earn a customer’s business.

While there might be times when a company lands a referral or otherwise gains a new account with little to no effort, plan for these to be the exception rather than the rule.

In general, a business is going to need every tool at its disposal for marketing to new and even existing customers. One of the best tools in a marketer’s arsenal: Data.

Today, we’re going to explore why data-driven insights are so essential to helping business owners and marketing leads craft a marketing strategy, and how to go about gathering these insights.

Basics of Marketing Strategies and Data-Driven Insights

For the do-it-all business owners reading this, first, let’s get on the same page about marketing strategies and data-driven insights. Both of which may sound like old news —but they’re vitally important for businesses.

What a Marketing Strategy Is – And Why Businesses Need Them

These days, average customer acquisition costs, or CACs, can range from around $85 for eCommerce customers to nearly $2,000 for some higher education clients.

Meanwhile, the median conversion rate for B2B sales for websites is 2.23%. So for every one person who decides to purchase business equipment or services online, the vast majority of potential buyers will walk away.

And truth be told, it’s not necessarily that much better selling over the phone or in-person!

A marketing strategy is an attempt to improve all of these metrics. It’s about making a plan to do whatever it takes to market to prospective or current customers and earn their business, or more of it.

There isn’t a set way to design a marketing strategy, which can and probably should be highly individualized to whatever company is putting it together. It can be codified in a single written document or be an ever-evolving set of best practices. It can include elements like buyer personas, preferred advertising channels, marketing methods and much more. However it looks, there’s one thing all robust, effective marketing strategies share — data!

What Data-Driven Insights Are

When companies put together their marketing plans, they might do it primarily on the basis of qualitative analysis, or even just anecdotal or gut assessments. These can be subjective and easy to gather, though there’s a payoff for businesses willing to invest in finding quantitative or data-driven insights.

As the name would suggest, data-driven insights are analysis geared around numbers. Business owners and marketers may be able to gather valuable insights from any of the following data points:

  • Conversion rate on your website
  • CAC, segmented by different industry verticals, geography, or demographic data
  • Average value of a client
  • How long a customer is with your business, in total (lifetime value)
  • Frequency that a customer does business, which can help you predict revenue and customer service queries — and maybe even plan for an upsell
  • Profit margins for different customers
  • Productive and efficient of different personnel who touch key functions such as marketing, development, product design, and more

The list of course goes on and could grow further as artificial intelligence (more on that soon!) makes it so that companies can increasingly have data at their fingertips without having to aggregate it themselves.

Why Data is Essential to a Successful Marketing Strategy

Now, let’s bring it all together.

When a company sets out to make a marketing strategy, the challenge is that there are so many directions to potentially go that marketers can easily wind up in the proverbial weeds. By relying on data, marketers can make informed decisions that keep them pointed toward their goals.

Data doesn’t just steer us toward our goals — it’s also critical for understanding our audiences and segmenting them more effectively so they can be reached with less expense.

And, data is even pivotal to continuous improvement. With it, companies can refine the marketing funnels which guide prospective customers on a buyer’s journey from the point of initial awareness of a problem to making a purchase and beyond.

Suffice it to say, data is invaluable for increasing the odds that a would-be customer makes it all the way through their buyer’s journey with a company.

Here’s how to use data to better understand market dynamics, customer needs, and emerging trends to gain success and a competitive advantage when it comes to your marketing efforts.

5 Ways to Inject Data Into Your Marketing Strategies

There are all kinds of ways that companies can incorporate data into their ground game for marketing. These range from old school methods that predate computers to cutting-edge strategies being enabled by technological advances such as the latest in artificial intelligence.

Let’s dive into five ways marketers and small business owners can add data into their marketing strategies.

1. Survey Existing Customers

The average company might have an untold number of customers who’ve voluntarily opted to receive emails from them. Provided it’s done unobtrusively, these customers can be a literal goldmine for businesses that opt to survey them.

There are different ways that organizations can go about surveying their clientele. They can query about what led people to do business with them to double down on these areas with future customers. Or companies can gather more detailed demographic info, such as education and income, to develop better buyer personas.

A more sophisticated, but worthwhile, survey could be about trying to determine what Enneagram style – essentially, what personality type – a customer is. Once company’s have a better idea of this, they can create marketing content for each of the styles that are relevant to their customer base.

2. Research Prospective Customers

Of course, data doesn’t just come from the current customer base. A company can also create better marketing plans by gathering data about industries or verticals they’d like to work with.

One way to do this is by hiring a market research company that can survey or even conduct phone interviews with prospective customers who align with your ideal customer profile. With a critical mass of responses, they can then analyze it to unearth both qualitative and quantitative insights.

For example, a researcher might find that a decent percentage of public sector executives surveyed are planning to do a request for proposal in the next two years for a solution related to what you sell (score!). You can take this research and begin to market to these executives to get on their radar.

3. Use KPIs to Monitor How Your Funnels are Doing

Marketing and sales funnels might function inefficiently if a company lacks key performance indicators (KPIs) that can give them an idea of how things are going.

There are plenty of marketing KPIs to measure, and what you choose should be based on your offering, industry, and overall business goals.

However, here are a few high-level KPIs to help you start thinking about what you want to measure:

  • Marketing ROI (return on investment): This measures the revenue generated from marketing activities compared to their cost, to assess effectiveness and profitability.
  • Conversions to marketing qualified lead (MQL): This KPI tracks the quality of lead gen by finding the rate at which leads from marketing efforts become marketing qualified leads.
  • Pipeline contribution: Use this to measure the number of marketing-generated opportunities that become closed deals, aka contribute to revenue.
  • Churn rate: In a marketing context, churn rate refers to the rate at which customers or subscribers stop using a product or service over a specific period. It’s an important metric for assessing marketing’s impact on customer retention and loyalty.

4. Personalize Campaigns with Demographic Data

Marketing campaigns today shouldn’t be one-size fits all. Companies can use smart tools — modern customer relationship management (CRM) platforms are a good example — to gather demographic information to make highly-individualized pushes for a prospective customer’s business.

Personalized data allows marketers to work smarter rather than just harder in their campaigns. Instead of using a scattered approach that might yield large numbers of unqualified leads, marketers can zero in on the types of customers they most want to work with.

From there, companies can use tactics like retargeting, customized email flows, and other personalized methods to reach out directly to these customers.

5. Use AI and Machine Learning to Learn and Adapt

All the customer preferences and information you’ve gathered up to this point, you don’t need to endlessly sift through it all by yourself. AI and machine learning make it so that data can be reviewed automatically and continuously.

In addition to gathering and organizing data to help you create customized campaigns, AI is useful for automating some of the simpler elements of those campaigns, running and optimizing ads and messaging on the fly, analyzing sentiment around your marketing efforts, and even developing predictive analytics to help you tap into coming trends before your competitors have a chance to beat you to the punch.

The Transformative Power of Data-Driven Insights

As you can see, embracing data-driven insights is paramount for businesses to not only navigate the complexities of modern marketing, but to do so in a way that’s both efficient and attractive to today’s savvy consumers.

By leveraging modern marketing tooling, AI and machine learning, and just good ol’ smart strategies around data collection and application, companies can unlock valuable customer insights, optimize marketing strategies, and drive business growth.

This article is a guest post from our friend Graham.

Graham Womack is a writer. His work as a journalist has appeared in a wide assortment of publications, including the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle and Sacramento Bee. He has written extensively for corporate clients about the ever-evolving world of B2B SaaS solutions. Email him at