The concept of using data to influence decision making certainly isn’t new. It’s been adopted, implemented and utilized by each and every one of us. It can be as basic as using visual data to pick the best apple out of the bunch, or as complex as using customer resource management (CRM) data to create a geographic heat map of customers and prospects to better understand where to spend your advertising budget.
With the practice of data driven decision making becoming more mainstream in the business world, a new term, business intelligence (BI), has emerged. BI encompasses a mixture of applications used to analyze an organization’s raw data. Though it is much more than just comparing point A to point B. BI can be used to identify inefficient processes inside of businesses ready to be re-engineered, or uncover new revenue stream opportunities.
What were once decisions made based on anecdotes and gut feelings are now backed up by facts and hard numbers, digging up the gold in the business intelligence mine.
There’s Gold in Those Systems!
When we start a conversation with someone around data and business intelligence, one of the first points we cover is identifying all of the systems housing the key data within an organization. Most organizations are sitting on a gold mine of untapped data, mainly because the systems are disconnected and aren’t passing key information back and forth.
What we see many times is each department operating on its own independent system, with data and information relevant to its business responsibilities. What we aren’t seeing is all of this isolated data being used throughout the organization to drive positive business decisions.
In the middle market, the main data housing sources used to make business decisions live within marketing, sales and operations.
If the data is isolated and siloed like this, then your business could be letting gold slip through its fingers. For companies to win and maintain customers, sales and marketing data need to work together. Research conducted by SirirusDecisions explored and studied the buyer’s journey, and found that roughly 70% of their journey is completed before the prospect reaches out to sales. Therefore, it is up to marketing to take a proactive approach by engaging and educating the prospect until they are ready to purchase.
Closing the Loop
After identifying and fixing the communication breakdown between marketing and sales data, it’s time to close the loop. We can use business intelligence to identify what prospects are engaging with and where that engagement occurs. This business intelligence principle is called closed-loop reporting. This is the practice of complete prospect life cycle mapping and channel attribution. Below is a graphic to help explain.
By creating a closed-loop system, we will be able to pinpoint not only the first touch point a lead had with an organization, but also properly attribute credit to the content, tools and channels a prospect engaged the organization through. With this data, and the information found in your marketing and sales tools, you could:
- Use website visitor data found in your web analytics or marketing automation tool to segment prospects into product and/or service specific email lists that trigger targeted email campaigns from your email marketing or automation platform with relevant content.
- Use past purchase data found in an e-commerce system or CRM to create product reordering email campaigns that trigger when the product’s lifecycle is nearing its end.
- Create a list of top customers and identify which products and/or services they came to your organization for, which industries they are in, and details about the main contact and/or decision maker. You might be surprised about who your target audience really is!
- Create a dynamic remarketing campaign to serve product and/or service specific ads to prospects who visited the product and/or service pages of your website.
- Overlay ZIP code data over the geographic areas your company operates in to create a prospect and/or customer heat map. Then cross-reference this data with website visitor geographic location data.
Does this data match?
- If you see that your sales teams are talking to people in Columbus, Ohio but little website traffic is coming from there, consider a targeted digital ad campaign as a possible tactic.
- If you see that your website is getting a lot of traffic from Elk Grove, Illinois, but your sales reps haven’t focused on that area, you may have just found a new area to prospect!
- Are a lot of customer service complaints coming in about a particular part of your product? By documenting customer service inquiries, manufacturing and new product development could benefit from raw customer feedback and experiences.
BI for Today’s Executive
Data-driven decision-making through business intelligence is within your grasp. Your company has the data, and now you just need to tap into it! Tools and system integrations will get you part of the way, but you are still going to need smart folks with data science and business intelligence experience to ask the right questions and know what to look for to uncover the answers and patterns hidden within the numbers.