In a now almost legendary quote, John Wanamaker is reputed to have said “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” and most business owners will know the feeling.

Very often marketing can seem like a game of ‘pin the tail on the donkey’ with businesses trying a wide variety of different approaches in the hope that one of them will stick.

But the truth is that it really doesn’t have to be that way.

In fact, using quality customer and web data can help develop your understanding of buying behavior and will undoubtedly improve the Return On Investment (ROI) for your marketing spend.

What type of data can help?

There are essentially three types of data that can help with your marketing and the good news is that this information is all available, if you know where to look.

External data

External data covers information that comes from outside your organization and relates either specifically to your site visitors or to the market in general.

Examples of these would be search results and volume, questions that potential customers are asking, competitor information and demographic data on your target customers.

It can also include data on where your current customers are hanging out on the web and their interests.

Internal data

Data that your business holds about your customers whether they are current or former buyers.

Typically this would include information on their frequency, amount and types of buying, times they visit your site, what they look at when they are there, and how often they go on to buy.

Customer behavior

This covers data on the way that people use your site. It’s less about the customer and more about their sales journey, the buttons they click, and what they seem to like and don’t like.

Here’s how you can step up your marketing game

Although all of the types of data are available to you, this is only helpful if it improves your marketing so here are our 5 examples of improvements you can make to your marketing that will boost sales and make your ROI look a lot better.

1. Develop better marketing campaigns

If you know the sort of questions that your customers are asking and the types of products and services they are looking for then you can develop your marketing campaign to suit.

Let’s imagine that you sell TVs. You notice that people’s search behavior has changed and instead of searching for “flat-screen TVs” they start to search for “TVs with Netflix”.

You can develop a campaign that is specifically themed around units you sell that have built-in streaming services and reliable wifi connections.

A focused campaign that is designed to work with the current requirements of customers will always outperform a catchall vanilla theme.

2. Target ad spend on the most likely areas

Suppose you knew the type of customer who really valued your service and you wanted a finely targeted way of talking to them but you didn’t know where they hang out.

Web analytics are so refined nowadays that you can use information on people who have bought from you to not only identify the specific websites they visit but also produce a target list of people who also visit those sites.

For example; imagine that you sell baby clothing and you realize that the people who buy from you also visit sites like Mumsnet or family living.

It’s a fair bet that the other people visiting those sites are also parents and have the same needs in terms of baby clothes. In other words, they ‘look’ like your customers.

Finding people who look like your customers means that you don’t waste money advertising in places that your ideal customer doesn’t hang out and to people who would never buy from you anyway.

3. Remarket to non-buyers

Have you ever visited a website and intended to buy and got distracted only to find later that you couldn’t remember where you saw that really cool product?

You’re not alone. In fact, Mailchimp estimates that 97% of visitors won’t buy anything the first time around.

So this happens remarkably often and just because someone didn’t buy doesn’t mean they don’t like your products, just that there was a knock at the door or a phone call and their attention was taken elsewhere.

What you need is a way of jogging their memory and re-presenting the information that they were looking for.

Step forward remarketing

This is where people who have already visited your site get served highly targeted ads for your business or specific products when they go to other places on the web.

This is exceptionally good because these are people that were already interested and have seen your brand before and are therefore much more likely to buy.

4. Understand the competition

Unless you are incredibly lucky then you have competitors and it may well be that you have a lot of very active rivals in a crowded marketplace, in which case, having data on their activities is like gold dust.

How useful would it be to know how busy your competitor’s website is, benchmark your own site against them or have sector research that would allow you to refine your offer so that you could steal a march on other businesses?

Being able to instantly check website traffic will tell you how active your competitor is, what pages are performing well, and where their customers are coming from. Having data on your competitors and being able to benchmark yourself against them allows you to spot where your website is doing well, and where it is not so good.

This means that when you are under attack from competitors you can respond instantly with better offers rather than spending money on marketing that just won’t work.

5. Understanding on-site behavior

A good example of internal data that can help your marketing effort is understanding what people do when they are on your site.

After all, you’ve spent all that money getting them along to your website only to find that they don’t buy so don’t you want to know why?

Sometimes it can be a simple User Experience (UX) thing like the ‘buy now’ button not working when people are using a certain browser.

In other instances, it could be that people visit your site and simply can’t find the information they need.

Gathering data about their actions, where they click, how much they scroll and what pages they enter and exit from can help you to clarify your site and make sure that potential buyers aren’t put off by technical and design issues that are simple to remedy.

Understanding what people do on your site will increase the percentage of people who buy and reduce your cart abandon rate or if you are a service business, will result in more booked appointments.

Information means success

Improving your marketing is a matter of understanding your customer and making it easy for them to buy.

It’s about getting the right product in front of the right person at the right time.

Using our tips will make sure that you are talking to people who are your kind of customers and who are more likely to buy.

Refining your offers by using data on behavior and customer needs means that your marketing spend will be much more effective and targeted which will, in turn, increase your ROI.

Why not use our tips to work out how better data could improve your marketing approach?