For performance marketers and digital strategists, data is the key to success.
Marketing teams are analyzing more customer and business data than ever before, which means their data gathering and processing methods are also evolving. Put another way: if your job description didn't mention working with marketing data when you applied for it, it will soon.
Why marketing data is essential
While marketing data is often used to measure past success, it is equally valuable for planning future marketing campaigns. However, omnichannel campaigns necessitate more content in more places (and the places you’re advertising keep growing by the year). This makes it increasingly difficult to wrap your head around just how much data (and how many data sources) should inform your annual marketing plan.
While your marketing budget for 2023 is awaiting CMO approval, it’s a great time to reflect on the different data you may have used to inform your budget — or may want to use for 2024. Here are several different data sources you’ll want to consider as you prepare for the next quarter. From quantitative data sources to leveraging the qualitative data your team may not even realize they’re collecting, these data sources will empower you to hit the ground running. They’ll also offer you powerful insights about your audience and their behaviors.
In this blog post, we’ll introduce some of the best places to gather data from — and what to look for when you’re analyzing your data. While not exhaustive, it’s an excellent starting point as you wrap your head around just how many data sources there are.
The 7 most valuable marketing data sources
From social media engagement to various traffic sources like organic web search and above-the-line, below-the-line, and through-the-line campaigns, the following tools are a great starting point to measure your performance and plan your future.
1. Google Analytics
Google Analytics has just about everything you need to jumpstart your data-driven marketing strategy. It offers information about web traffic and conversions on your website (and even app data, if you're using Google Analytics 4).
What to look for in Google Analytics?
It's easy to get overwhelmed by the data visualizations and marketing stats offered by a platform like Google Analytics. Here are a few areas to focus on:
Pages with the highest views
By focusing on the pages or blog topics on your website that have the highest views, you can make next year's content marketing strategy hyper-focused on these pages. This can help you continue to grow a target audience that is already coming to your website.
Engaged sessions are a helpful metric for determining whether some of your website’s pages are underperforming and could use a refresh. Especially if the number of engaged sessions is low on a landing page you've created for some display ads, you may need to rethink the headers and imagery to see what can be more engaging.
Looking at the different traffic sources can also be valuable for your marketing plan. Suppose some data sources like social media channels or email perform better than others. In that case, it might be worth increasing your ad spend in those areas rather than spreading your costs across multiple underperforming channels.
2. Google Ads
Google Ads is one of the leading providers of PPC (pay-per-click) ads, display ads, and product listings in search engines.
What to look for in Google Ads?
As you create content for your ads in Google, conversion tracking is the primary metric. If you aren't seeing the rate of conversions you're aiming for, it's important to revise your ad copy or imagery in order to create more compelling content.
Even a quick glance at Google Ads' overview page can give some good insights.
You can also use data from Google Ads to identify and research high-performing keywords, which you can then use in your SEO efforts. In this case, high performing means:
- Gets a decent amount of clicks
- Has a good CTR to the website
- Has a good conversion rate on the website.
Especially if these keywords are expensive, it is smart to also use them in your SEO strategy and try to rank for them in organic search.
Also read: The art and science of Channel Strategy in Marketing
3. Facebook Ad Manager
Facebook Ads delivers great statistics to measure ROI and to reach a highly targeted audience with precise demographic data.
What to look for in Facebook Ad Manager?
Facebook Ads provides detailed insights into your business goals, lead generation, and marketing activity on each ad you deploy. Some of the most relevant data points for content marketers provided by Ad Manager include:
- ROAS (return on ad spend)
- Post engagement
Return on ad spend is a powerful indicator when trying to maximize your spend efficiency, especially for companies with massive amounts of ad spend. However, other metrics can be relevant to your business, like impressions (how often your ad has appeared in users' feeds) and clicks (how often it's resulting in a user clicking to go to your landing page).
Post engagement is another valuable piece of data to examine since this can tell you how popular or interesting your ad content is. Low post engagement means it's probably best to retire or rework your content since it isn't resonating with customers.
4. Google Search Console
Google Search Console is the best place to get information about how Google crawls and indexes your website and what keywords searchers use to find your content.
What to look for in Google Search Console?
If you’re not an SEO expert, Google Search Console can be a bit overwhelming – but don’t be discouraged. Here are three main things to look for in your website’s GSC reports:
- Core web vitals
- Page indexing
- Performance overview
The core web vitals report shows page speed by status: poor, needs improvement, and good. It is important to remember that page speed isn't just an SEO ranking factor. It is also important for the overall user experience. If you see a lot of ‘poor’ URLs, you’ll want to make a plan to improve them.
The Core Web Vitals report tells you if you need to invest in improving your websites page speed
The page indexing and performance overview reports show information about if Google indexes your pages, as well as the search queries you appear in.
5. Sales development representatives
While the previous examples focused on quantitative data, qualitative data from your sales team can be just as crucial to gain new insights and create a well-informed marketing plan. And while it is wise to do market research, your sales reps speak to customers all the time. Their input is super valuable.
What insights should you look for from your sales development representatives (SDRs)?
Some questions I like to ask sales:
Can you tell me about a recent conversation you had with a prospect, what was the challenge they were trying to solve?
What was the last prospect/company that you had a really easy time closing? What was the problem that person was trying to solve for? Why do you think that person signed with you?
Tell me about the competition… what do you think our competitive advantage is over the rest of the companies that we compete with?
Speaking to your sales reps to determine customer pain points can be very valuable for marketers. By better understanding what unique selling points are most appealing to certain customers, you can double down on those unique selling points in your messaging.
Doing this can also help to distinguish different customer groups. Understanding how to segment your audience better can help you find better examples to use in your marketing efforts. By talking to the team that actually speaks to your customers, you can further understand the statistical data you've gathered and better leverage it in your marketing.
6. Technical support teams
No one has access to your business’s pain points and public opinion like your support team, making them a great source of inspiration to inform your digital marketing efforts.
What insights should you look for from your support team?
The data you get from your support team will focus on the technical issues customers have with either your website or your product. Knowing this information will help you understand when to reinforce or avoid specific messaging. Touting your product’s reliability makes sense when you rarely have down time. On the other hand, you wouldn’t want to make an ad creative about “rock solid reliability” if your product regularly breaks.
Your support team also has valuable usability stats. For example, if you use Google Analytics and discover that engaged sessions are low on a certain page, your support team may have further information on what is confusing customers or clients about that web page. Especially if you don't have the marketing data from a heat map on that page, customer data can be an invaluable workaround.
7. Account managers
If you're in B2B marketing or serve various clients as an agency, your account managers are another handy data source to consider.
What insights should you look for from your account managers?
When it comes to telling a story from your data, marketing teams can get a real head start by talking to account managers first. Account managers understand your clients on a micro and a macro level. For instance, they can tell you:
- What economic indicators are most important to clients
- What marketing trends they're paying attention to — and which are overblown
- Which pain points drove customers to the business
- What kinds of marketing campaigns do customers respond to the most
Finding the right mix of metrics
While quantitative data may be the lifeblood of digital and content marketers, some softer qualitative data can also help paint a more detailed picture of your marketing performance. The triple S of Sales, Support and customer Success gives you great insight in the customer journey new clients go through - including where they might need more information.
Qualitative and quantitative research don’t need to be siloed from each other, either. Account managers and other customer-facing representatives can add needed context by jotting down some notes within your CRM. This blend of hard numbers and human observation can ensure that you’re interpreting your performance results accurately.
Whether it's for raw marketing data or inspiration, quantitative and qualitative data have a role to play in any data-driven marketing strategy. Use the above data sources, and you'll be well on your way to collecting the metrics you need to continuously improve your marketing strategy year after year.