[dropcap]I[/dropcap]magine of your body being without bones. That would mean a collapsed and shabby posture. Similarly, a digital marketing strategy or program cannot stand the wind if it’s not anchored on properly analysed data. Marketing will have its lifeline largely pegged on the digital space for as long as people continue to move and spend most of their time marveling at the ease and efficiency that comes with the use of information communication technologies.

It is, however, important to note that digital marketing is lifeless without having a proper understanding of the role data has to play at all stages before and after putting a product, brand, service or campaign out there. As a marketer, you cannot tackle, change, gain or attain what you cannot see but data enables you see the other side of your business.

Taking time to identify, track, see and take record of all that lies in an opportunity or a situation is what gives you data and there are several digital tools to enable you do all this with ease. Businesses don’t have to necessarily hire a statistician or a data analyst to do this. All you require is to have is appropriate tools and an informed skillset entrenched within your team or partners.

The Global Data-Driven Marketing Survey conducted by Teradata in 2015 found 87 percent of marketers to be considering data as the most underutilized asset in marketing organizations. But why is data such a powerful big stick in digital marketing?

Data defines what works for you in your digital marketing

It is not bad to take a test-it-and-see approach when starting off in web marketing and digital communication. It is not a copy and paste world. What works for them might not work for you but can offer vital lessons.

Having data on the nature of every activity, content and channels you use in digital marketing and the outcome on each of them is so critical when starting and whenever things change. It separates what works for you from what cannot grow your business.

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If it is a Facebook page you are using, Facebook page insights will help you greatly. It is such a powerful tool to track how your community interacts with your content. You will tell whether it is a Swahili post, an info-graphic, a video or simply text or which of the possible content set combinations work best. With a keen observation, the insights will show you the best time and which days to put up what post.

Similarly, the other social media platforms offer you invaluable statistics to guide you on how to optimize the effectiveness of online marketing at minimal costs. Do not simply stick to a tool, campaign or use of influencers even when data shouts loud at you and tells you it is not turning engagement into value even if you are trending throughout.

Data identifies and helps you know your customers through and through

A physical office or shop owner might not know so much about their customers and clients as one in the digital world. Online marketing magic allows you to know so much about your clientele without physically seeing or having to ask them. This is however helpful if you properly draw good insights anchored on customer behavior data.

Having data for instance, on what people typed on the Google search engine to land on your page or find you online will help you rework or see how effective your key words list is for your Ecommerce or blog posts. This way, you will always strike spot-on with your search engine optimization strategy for your website, Vlog and even social media activities.

Men might be a majority of your customers but are you generating more revenue from their numbers? Are the fewer, younger or older visitors spending more money making purchases than the rest? Where are most orders coming from? Are they in Nairobi or Kampala….Why don’t you consider having a physical store where you make most of your deliveries?

Data will see you easily understand whether most of these customers find you on social media, email, Ad clicks or direct visits to your site.

Where on your web page do they spend most of their time and where are they clicking the most number of times? Put your money and effort where the strength lies.

Stalking ROI (Return On Investment)

As a business you must have come to terms with the shift of the digital space from being more of a social platform to a place where you have to connect with the world. Using social media is no longer a free ride like was in the past.

Social media is now advertising space because it is where the masses are. Given these changes, you have to stretch further your Ad spending to remain visible. Platforms as Facebook are not letting your posts reach everyone just because you posted at the right time. Organic reach is now meager on social media save for high engagement content that you have to invest in creativity to have online.

However, as you allocate more money to sponsoring online campaigns and paying influencers, remember more visibility is only relational to having your brand known out there. Your business will be known and can be a household name. This does not obviously mean causation of business and revenue generation for you.

Take time to analyse data on how much traffic each sponsored activities earned you, how many leads were generated and if at all there were any conversions that earned you money. Once you have this at hand, even though it is not instantaneous, weigh it against the amount of money you invested.
Seek to know whether the returns are worth it and if not, the data will help you know where you went wrong. Be sure to look at time, human resource, affiliate programs’ spend and every other resources you put in place as being part of your expenditure.

Defining Growth paths for SMEs

As a business, small or well established you will need to study competitor trends. A startup could soon sprint past your market share for a new trick they employed on their digital strategy. Take time to study what those coming up are doing, seek to follow and reinvent to better the path those ahead of you have embarked on.

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Data from your competitors is as helpful as your own. You can know what type of content or platforms give the most of their traffic and go for a share of the cake.

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