Understanding Data Types in Data Analytics

Year 2005 was arguably the most important year for data analytics.

In November 2005, Google launched their analytics service, after acquiring Urchin in April 2005.

Since then, data analytics has transformed the perspective of marketers around the globe.

Every time advertising ROI was discussed, below statement was quoted:

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

 

Marketing cloud players like Oracle, Adobe & IBM are positioning their data analytics platforms just to address the above problem.

With data impacting every aspect of business, CMO’s believe their role is no longer restricted to brand marketing.

(Also Read: RIP CMO, VIVA CDO )

To understand this  further, we must know the types of data sets relevant in digital marketing.

Marketing Data TYPES

 

Data Analytics - Marketing Data Types

Marketing Data Types in Data Analytics

 

Usually, it needs an understanding of your customer journey, but most of the above data sets are common for various customer journeys.

For simplification, I have divided it into 2 broad segments:

Audience Data Analytics or Advertising Data

 

This data is usually acquired through multiple marketing touch points and it is also the most complex of all to interpret.

Most of this data is used for making better & faster marketing decisions.

You can divide audience data into following:

Market Research Data / Survey Data 

 

This data is acquired using primary and secondary sources to understand:

  • market competition analysis
  • audience behaviour in a category
  • offline communication effectiveness

It is extremely valuable for designing your brand communication.

Social Media Analytics Data

 

As more adults acquire smartphones, they’re spending an increasing amount of their time on social media.

Also Read : Time Spent on Social Media – By Nielsen

Social Analytics Tools

Social data analytics tools offers a deep insights about the life and preferences of modern day digital audience in the form of following data sets:

  • Audience Interest – what are their likings and dis-likings etc.
  • Affinity / Behavioural Data – Content consumption behaviour
  • Category Conversations – what are they talking about or discussing?
  • Brand Sentiment – benchmarking sentiment against different competitors.
Search Analytics Data or Intent Data

 

While social data helps us to understand their content consumption behaviour, search data helps us understand current market trends and brand preference.

First, to fully understand search data and its impact, one must know how to use Google Trends (see below)

Second, SEO data can be obtained from either the google webmaster tool or your own Google Analytics account.

This data further helps you to find out:

  • Key audience searches in your category
  • Competition brand preference
  • Content ideas for blog and social media
Website Analytics Data

 

If planned well (Read this post by Avinash Kaushik) , this data type can offer the most in-depth amount of insights to any marketing team.

Any website analytics tool (like Google Analytics or Kiss Metrics) allows you to find out:

  • Quality of your assets (like blog) and content (videos)
  • Quality of your landing pages ( UI and UX )
  • Audience customer journeys
  • Conversion Attribution (if you are generating lead or e-commerce)
  • Digital Marketing Campaign Effectiveness
  • Key Traffic sources
  • Return on marketing Investment

Customer Data or CRM Data

 

This data is extremely sensitive from a digital privacy standpoint.

It is very important to capture this data in the right format and keep it updated & consistent.

Top CRM Tools

Top CRM Tools

The customer data is often stored inside a CRM tools ( see above  )

Modern CRM tools can captures and store the following information in an actionable manner:

  • Customer PII ( Personal Identifiable Information like Name, Gender, Email, Contact etc )
  • Purchase Data – Details of all the products / service purchased
  • Loyalty Data – contains details connected to any customer loyalty program customer has subscribed to.

Digital data analytics can offer very deep insights, but only if you plan your data priorities in advance and also choose the matching tools at each stage of your marketing.

Digital Marketing Consultant vs Digital Agency, both are relevant for business

This post is not to convince people against digital ad agencies, instead it is to help business owners make better business decisions.

Back in 2006, when I started my career in Quasar Media (a leading independent digital agency & now a WPP company) , I never thought that I would get an opportunity to work as an independent Digital Marketing Consultant for such a long time.

Over the years, I’ve worked with clients ranging from enterprise companies to absolute bare bones startups. For someone like me who has actually gone through from the mad corridors of digital advertising to the “politically corrected” corporate boardrooms and now a “meandering consultant”, its been a helluva ride.

But this post is not about me, this post is to help you make better decisions while you are choosing the right marketing partner for your business. But lets understand the business problem in a much more holistic manner.

In the last 5 years, there has been a massive increase in the number of marketing channels, marketing technologies are changing at the pace of light and the world is no longer about just generating new customer leads, thanks to social media and mobile ad tech, you can now predict when and from where you would get your next customer. But all of that isn’t that simple either.

Gartners Digital Marketing Transit Map

Gartners Digital Marketing Transit Map

Gartner’s Digital Marketing Transit Map is just an indicator of this increasingly complex world. Needless to say, with newer technologies like artificial intelligence taking over the reins, marketing can become further complex for future organisations.

In this situation, every business must choose the right vendor partner who can help them navigate through this phenomenally complex world of digital marketing.

The decision of choosing between a Digital Marketing Consultant vs Digital Agency is usually based on the size of the organization, but there are still multiple factors that affect this decision:

Digital Marketing Consultant Services

Digital Marketing Consultant Services

For Enterprise Company

If there is one word that defines their business, it is “LARGE”.

For them it is an obvious choice to hire multiple vendors/ agencies to manage their different digital work streams like customer acquisition, brand management, technology development, content marketing, publicity design, customer relationship management and the most critical one, data management. Based on these, an enterprise company usually hires vendors for the following functions:

  • Digital communication design
  • Technology development for different platforms like web, mobile, digital outdoors etc.
  • Digital brand strategy
  • Localisation agency to managed campaigns in different regions
  • PR & Social Media Agency
  • CRM
  • Digital Content Production
  • Customer Data, Analytics & Research Partner
  • Digital Media Agency ( for paid media campaigns like SEM, FB ads, Performance Marketing, Affiliate Marketing)

There are very few cases where an enterprise company hires an independent consultant. Only where the work is project based and highly niche in nature which cannot be provided at the same level expertise by any of the existing vendors in the market, hiring a consultant becomes imminent for the enterprise brand.

For Small Medium Business

This is where it is most difficult to assess your business requirement. Majority of the SMB’s are focussed towards generating more sales and not building their brand. For them, marketing is an expense, which should be avoided as much as possible, and only ROI driven marketing tactics are considered by the business owners with the clear objective to achieve sales.

However, there are multiple segments (based on size, nature of business, employee count, technology, customer base etc.) within the SME space, each of which has a different level of marketing requirements.

  1. For Local Business – the size of the business is extremely small ( like a small travel operator, Builders & Real Estate Agents, SOHO business, local retail, personalised services etc. ) which is not lucrative for any mid-large digital vendor, not just from scale but from monetary standpoint.
    1. Their marketing requirements (briefs) are often vaguely defined and restricted to most commonly used plus tried & tested digital marketing practices like Search optimisation & Adwords Marketing, Social Media Optimisation and Lead Generation.
    2. Most of these businesses get their low cost websites done by some local web design company without much focus on brand hygiene or customer relationship.
    3. Recommendation : Today, there are tremendous opportunities for any local business to grow, what they lack is a clear focus and direction based on the type of their business. Digital Marketing Consultants are best bets for local business as they can help them define their business focus and create a simple roadmap to grow without spending too much money. Its like visiting a private doctor’s clinic for expert’s advice before getting admitted to a hospital.
  2. For Startups – they come in many shapes and forms based on the stage of business , funded vs bootstrapped, tech vs non tech, product based vs service, e-commerce vs non e-commerce. Based on the type of startup, their marketing requirements are also different in nature.
    1. Early stage startups literally bootstrap their marketing expenditure for a long period of time. I’ve seen founders getting their hands dirty with everything in the marketing, right from building the strategy, finding alliances and partners, writing the PR copy, social media campaign, customer support etc.
    2. Startups are also secretive about their core idea till they build enough customer base. They usually hire people for doing specific task in marketing like SEO, Social Media Marketing, Email Marketing etc. (Also read : How to hire for your bootstrapped startup?)
    3. For startups who manage to raise decent amount of funding in Series A/B, prefer to build their own digital marketing team instead of working with ad agencies. I guess most of the startup founders believe that ad agencies would not understand the vision completely. However, the trend is changing, startups are working with digital vendors for specific requirements like content marketing, online video campaigns (Also Read : How beautifully Faballey created their #unfollow campaign)
    4. Recommendation : on one side, early stage startups badly need top quality resources, but they also want to bootstrap it till the time they find gold aka funding source. Building momentum is super crucial for the founders as it allows them to build a strong business case to prospect investors. In this situation, it is highly advisable to hire experienced Freelance Digital Marketing Consultant who’ve been there and done that. The biggest benefit of working with a consultant is that they bring best practices from all perspectives including product management, sales, integrated marketing, customer relationship management etc.
  3. For Small Enterprise – these companies are those who are on a growth trajectory and certainly big enough in terms of their marketing operations, that allows them hire full time digital agencies.
    1. Despite being cash rich, these companies are extremely performance driven and sales focussed. Having said that, they still hire best of the marketing resources from elite B-schools all around the country by offering fat pay packages.
    2. Their requirements are often multi disciplinary, right from the core strategy to building a sustainable marketing plan to finding right partners in every aspect of their business.
    3. Usually these companies are cash rich and are prepared to spend money on brand building as well. The annual revenues are in high 3 digit numbers with double digit YOY growth.
    4. Please note, below recommendation is extremely relevant for Small B2B enterprise companies.
    5. Recommendation: Companies like these should prioritize their annual budgets and resources based on their short, medium & long term goals. While a Freelance Digital Marketing Consultant may not be the right option as (s)he cannot drive scale for their ambitious growth plans but (s)he can certainly come handy to drive certain specific needs like corporate training, creating your website content, creating your corporate blog strategy, building your website SEO & analytics. Digital Agencies are perfectly modeled for this kind of business as they can offer end-to-end services to their clients.

How to become a Digital Marketing Consultant?

Digital Marketing is a funny profession.

Want to know why I am saying this?

Because it is difficult to give credit to people for their work.

For example, you really don’t know what is the contribution of a digital strategist. At times it is just a presentation. I mean what is he supposed to deliver?

Creating presentations can’t be qualified as doing work. Right?

Deep down insight, most of the clients believe that it is the guy who is executing the campaigns hands-on is actually the real hero.

Nothing wrong in that assumption.

Digital marketing consultant is an altogether different animal.

It is normal for you to ask, how do I know about this?

So let me tell you, twice in the last ten years, I left my “stable job” and opted for full time consulting career digital marketing

Quite frankly, I had little clue about what digital marketing consulting is.  

I’ve been a hustler throughout my decade long career. Hence, consulting for me was not about making money but to give myself a chance to think differently.

Here are few suggestions from my side if you are planning to leave your cushy job for doing freelance digital consulting. 

Identify your core Digital marketing skills

 

Ideally it should not be more than 2-3 skills that’ll get you some quick projects.  

In sales they call it as “low hanging fruits” and easy to sell services which are no brainer for any client.

You can’t start your consulting in India with just strategy as your key focus.

Strategy is always considered as a default skill. Very few client pays to a freelance marketing consultant for strategy. They don’t!

However, exceptions might be there. 

A digital marketing consultant should always have a specialised skill at the back of his hand like

  • Social media management
  • SEO
  • SEM
  • Analytics
  • Content Writing
  • Video Editing
  • Software Programming

The biggest benefit of having these skills is that you can sell them like a product because the output is measurable and the scope of work can be defined much easily.  

Blogging is no longer optional

 

Continuous creation of content to establish your skills, knowledge and thought process is absolutely vital in a world which is dominated by mediocre people and companies.

I’ve seen people who were absolutely brilliant in their jobs, but when they started their own marketing consulting practice, they had to re-establish their thought leadership and skills in the market.

Fortunately, you have the benefit of blogs and social media which is an awesome “free publicity” tool for anyone who wants to build their credentials in the market.

Today, clients discover you in two ways, either through the personal referrals or through social media.

I agree that relationships matters in almost every type of consulting but in case of Digital Marketing, you need to build a strong knowledge portfolio for which there is no better tactic than blogging.

TAKE EARLY RISKS

 

It looks fancy to put a logo of any Fortune 500 company in your sales kit, but for most of the marketing consultants it is a pipe dream.

Most importantly, it is painful and less rewarding to pick up projects for big brands as they are extremely demanding and often force you bend backwards during the project.

If you are starting new as a digital marketing consultant in India, you should always aim at small business customers first as they’ll value your work a lot more than big corporations.

Fortunately, there are plenty of aspiring startup entrepreneurs around who are looking for all kind of support, right from building the website, writing their content, preparing investor pack, managing their digital marketing and lead generation, setting up their email marketing & CRM.

You would find a great connect with the early stage startups as they are sailing in the same boat as you are.

Specialist vs Generalist

 

It all depends upon what you are trying to pitch.

It is not so much of a problem if you have a tangible skill set like coding / designing / search marketing / SEO / affiliate marketing etc.

But if you are a digital generalist, then it can become a huge problem for you during client meetings.

Clients often have this habit of creating an open ended project scope which would kill you once you start working on the project.

It is absolutely vital to define the scope of the project till the last word.

Make sure you’ve taken the client through the process of execution with clearly defined expectations, timelines and deliverables.

COSTING YOUR CONSULTING OFFERING

 

Needless to say that Indian clients do not pay enough to marketing consultants.

You really need to spend over a decade to build your quality stamp and may be eventually, put a “non negotiable” tag on yourself.

The problem is that when it comes to digital marketing in India, everyone consider themselves “an expert” so very few people would value the services of a consultant.

Often, the term consultant is associated with “low cost services”. This is one of the major reason as to why some of the best professionals work on projects from outside India when there is plenty of work available in India.

And the worst part is the payment cycles. India is the worst possible place for an individual to start his consulting practice because payments here take forever to land in your account.

Unless your work is indispensable to the client’s success or the organisation is extremely ethical, you would never be able to get your payments on time.

Lets do a quick recap on the top marketing consulting priorities:

  1. Identify your core skills
  2. Build your thought leadership through blogs
  3. Try winning small customers and startups
  4. Define your scope of services
  5. Pricing your marketing consulting services