The Power of "So What?": Unleashing Actionable
Insights from Marketing Data
In the dynamic world of digital marketing, where data reigns supreme, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information at our disposal. In combination with our ability to harness new technology, we can also employ our best instincts and an enduring principle or two.
If 25 years of retail and digital experience have taught me anything, it is that amidst this flood of data there is just one fundamental question we need to be armed with as our guiding light: "So what?".
It is through this lens that we unlock the true value of marketing data and transform it into the type of tangible, actionable insights that can drive business success. As technology continually reshapes the marketing landscape, it is increasingly critical to move beyond superficial observations and vanity metrics. One of the great powers of ‘so what?’ is that it has remained as a constant North Star throughout this meteoric era of tech advancement.
It is no less relevant today to ask oneself "So what does this observation mean? How does it impact our strategies and bottom line?" than it was 25 years ago. It’s just that now we have several million more datapoints to obscure and obfuscate the answers. In my experience, only by embracing the power of "so what?" can we extract truly meaningful insights that propel our marketing efforts forward.
The ’so what?' journey begins with customer segmentation— an art that goes beyond mere demographics. By diving deep into behavioural patterns, transactional data, and consumer preferences, businesses can identify distinct customer segments. ‘So what?’ joins the dots here: so now you know what segment a person falls into; so what? What content will resonate with that segment? What products do others in that segment identify with? Through which channels can I reach that segment? Armed with this knowledge, we can tailor our marketing efforts to meet their unique needs, resulting in higher engagement and conversion rates.
Campaign effectiveness is another area where the question "so what?" becomes paramount. Merely launching campaigns and hoping for the best is no longer (and never really was) sufficient. Instead, we must dive into the data, analysing key performance indicators such as conversion rates, click-through rates, and customer acquisition costs. One of your KPIs has swung up/down overnight… so what? Well, that allows you to optimise campaigns, allocate resources more wisely and achieve a maximum return on investment.
The performance of products and product categories is clearly another critical factor in any business' success. Through data analysis, we can uncover insights on sales trends and customer feedback. So what? Armed with this knowledge, we can make informed decisions on pricing strategies, inventory management, and product assortment, ultimately driving profitability and customer satisfaction.
Customer journey understanding is crucial too. Mapping the path from initial awareness to final purchase and beyond provides invaluable insights. By asking "so what?" at each touchpoint, we can identify pain points, eliminate bottlenecks, and enhance the overall user experience. This, in turn, leads to improved customer loyalty and increased advocacy.
Competitive analysis in particular demands a relentless pursuit of the question "so what?" Monitoring and analysing competitor data allows us to benchmark our performance, uncover market trends, and capitalise on untapped opportunities. Data suggesting one of your competitors has the jump on you? So what? Do you ‘plagiarise with pride’ or ‘steer well clear’? Armed with these answers, we can differentiate ourselves, refine our positioning, and develop compelling value propositions.
By analysing social media performance metrics, we can identify the most engaging content, platforms, and timing. Asking "so what?" enables us to determine which social media strategies are driving meaningful interactions and conversions. We can then refine our content strategy, optimise our social media presence to achieve tangible business objectives and track down lookalike audiences.
Similarly, Email marketing campaigns remain a powerful tool in the digital marketer's arsenal. Through data analysis and the question "so what?", we can measure the effectiveness of email campaigns in terms of open rates, click-through rates, and conversions. This empowers us to refine our messaging, personalise content, and target specific segments, resulting in higher engagement and improved campaign performance.
Or take website optimisation. Website analytics provide a wealth of data, from page views and bounce rates to conversion funnels and user behaviour. By delving into this data with the question "so what?", we can identify areas of improvement, optimise user journeys, and enhance website performance. This leads to increased conversions, improved user experiences, and ultimately, higher customer satisfaction.
So, I hope you can tell by now that embracing the power of "so what?" is not merely an abstract concept. It is a widely applicable mindset that can drive truly actionable insights from marketing data.
As such, it is a question that I urge you all to ask of yourself several times daily... In this era of data-driven marketing, it is our collective responsibility to constantly challenge ourselves, our data and the tools and models that are surfacing it. Be curious.
Resist the allure of vanity metrics and instead focus on seeking tangible actions from your insights. Whether you are looking at customer segments or product performance, website optimisations or CRM and social campaigns, competitor reviews or channel attribution… Only by embracing the power of "so what?" can you navigate the inherent complexity of the digital landscape.
Leveraging advanced analytics tools, machine learning algorithms and data visualisations will of course help you unlock the true potential of your data and propel your businesses forward, but ultimately it will still come down to another timeless truism of marketing: it ain’t what you got, it’s what you do with it.