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How To Ask The Right Questions Of Your Data

08 October 2018

With so much marketing and customer data at our disposal, it’s how we use it that really counts.

Decision-making, problem-solving, and business improvement can all be answered with ‘Big Data’. The real challenge, is determining the type of questions to ask to unlock insightful answers.

The Importance of (Better) Questions 

You may ask questions all the time in your marketing practices; how successful was our last campaign? Is our Social strategy working? How are our competitors brand perceived? Answering questions like these allows your marketing operations to be agile, enabling your organisation to respond more efficiently to changes in audience behaviours, market trends or a shift in your own businesses direction. However, in many of these circumstances, experience has shown us that it’s the questions we often aren’t asking which expose the options and avenues that offer different solutions (and often greater success). 

Uncovering the Best Questions to Ask Your Data 

The combination of Big Data and modern data science can empower you to ask questions in entirely new ways, and by moving from descriptive analytics to predictive analytics (or combining the two) you’re bound to find new branches of questioning from data relationships and patterns. If you follow them, you will find something useful.

In the landscape of data analysis, most organisations are using data-based concepts. Using data-based concepts, the questions users may ask are almost pre-determined. For example, if you’re a Marketing Manager and your data model consists of a variety of attributes that you are able to collect in your CRM, you may ask questions that tie back to this data. Questions such as “How many contacts did we reach with our last campaign?” or “What channel is our most successful for acquisition?” These are simple questions that provide information that’s helpful but probably not transformative or ground-breaking. 

However, if you looked at all your customer and campaign data as a whole and started to see patterns around product usage and geography, or retention and business sector, you might start to ask questions like; “What’s the correlation between retention and business sector?”

The last question is more meaningful and, when answered, offers more than just stats and figures - they can be the start of a path towards positive changes in marketing planning that ultimately drives up retention. 

The good news is, this idea holds true no matter the industry you’re in. All businesses, even the most successful ones, can still benefit from asking the right questions. After all, you can’t get to the answers without questions, and the quality of the answers you’ll get depend on how good your questions are, and how you ask them.

Leading Brand Asks Key Questions from Data

Vodafone is a global wireless carrier that found great advantages in asking the right questions based on data acquired. The company began to understand the value of non-traditional customer-based data such as social media posts and web browser history. By adding this data to more traditional consumer data such as user preferences and demographics, the company was able to gain greater insights. This led to the right questions in terms of marketing to their audience better, which they in turn were able to do.

Vodafone didn’t just stumble upon these nuggets of wisdom - they began to see there were holes in their buyer profiles and began to ask, “Where can we find the right data on consumer preferences?” The answer was in the streams of non-traditional data they had. By applying this level of intelligence to their approach to data, they were able improve their customer experience – from better targeting of campaigns, to more personalised offers – ultimately driving up retention and customer life-time value. 

Getting Great Answers from Your Data 

You just can’t ignore the possible goldmine of information hidden in your data that could offer new ways to maximise opportunities and the ability to make optimal changes in your marketing efforts. 

Developing a robust data program combined with the expertise to interrogate and analyse the outputs effectively will enhance your capability to ask questions that matter more and will have a significant effect on your business. 

Businesses should not allow themselves to get caught up by the volume nor the multitude of data sources. What really matters for any brand is how to unpick the insights contained in the data, to bring about positive change. What questions (and illuminating answers) could you uncover in your data?

Find out how Equiniti Data can help you get more value from your data here