What is Data-Driven Marketing?

Kate Eastman
Posted by Kate Eastman on January 10, 2023
marketer using data in an experiment

Too often, marketing is seen as afterthought in complex B2B industries. Part of the reason in the past has been a lack of transparency into the ROI of marketing efforts. But it's 2023. Access to data is abundant — marketing included — but you have to know where to look, and what data is actually meaningful to measuring what's working and improving what's not.

Data is a crucial asset that marketers can leverage to help drive sales and feed that ever-important bottom line. Data-driven marketing provides a sturdy foundation on which to build and expand your marketing strategies in the right ways.

So, what is data-driven marketing, and how can you best use what information is available to achieve success and build credibility with your company leaders?

Data-Driven Marketing Defined — and Why It’s Useful

Sometimes in marketing, you have to just take a shot and see what happens. But if that’s all you do, chances are most of those shots will miss.

Data-driven marketing takes the guesswork out of the planning process and instead gives you information and insight that help guide your marketing strategies and tactics

You can uncover stats on what’s already been done or what customers are looking for to tailor your message to the right people at the right time and place — one of the foundations of successful inbound marketing.

A key characteristic of data-driven inbound marketing is seeing minute details, right down to the individual contact level. This shows you what content is drawing people in, what calls-to-action are performing well, and where customers are located in the sales funnel. On the flipside, you can learn what doesn’t work well and what may need tweaking.

What’s relevant to your buyer personas? Which keywords are getting researched? What content format is making the biggest impact? What are your best-performing blogs and landing pages? Data-driven marketing looks at these questions and countless more and gives you the answers you need to steer your marketing campaigns in the right direction.

What Data Should You Use to Make Marketing Decisions?

There’s almost an overabundance of data you can dig into, so the key is finding the right metrics that align with your goals while keeping an open mind to what else might be helpful.

To know what data to gather, first examine what you set out to accomplish. If you’re analyzing lead generation efforts, for example, then take a look at what channels and assets are attracting and converting the most qualified leads. If you’re looking at sales pipeline metrics, look at which of those assets or channels are helping to close leads. 

Or, if your goal is brand awareness, how is your overall website traffic? Where is it coming from? How are people viewing your content? What’s the state of your social media reach and engagement? Is your following growing on social platforms and online communities for your industry?

Look at your goals and ask yourself which numbers and statistics you’d need to have in front of you to find out if your marketing is working, and go from there.

Read More: How to Set Annual and Quarterly Inbound Marketing KPIs Based on Business Goals

Where Can You Find the Data?

So many data sources and tools exist to help inform your marketing strategy, whether it’s for content SEO research or website performance and anything in between.

  • To check on your traffic or see which blogs are performing well, dig into those stats with Google Analytics and your website CMS platform (we’re partial to HubSpot CMS, for good reason). 
  • Want to check out when your Facebook posts reach the most people? Explore the Insights section on your Facebook page and find out!
  • Look through your CRM and see what you can discover about the content your best prospects consumed before they became an open Deal. 
  • Set up an account with Semrush and find out which keywords competitors are ranking for. 
  • Look at your ad platforms and see what ads are performing the best. Even better, if your ad platform integrates with your marketing automation and CRM you can see what ads actually led to opportunities and closed customers.

These are just a few examples, but if you can think of a buying journey data point you want to find, there’s likely a tool out there for that very reason. 

LEARN MORE: Read through this collection of our blog articles about marketing analytics and tools you may find helpful.

How Does Data Help Your Credibility Within Your Company?

Guessing, trying things out, shots in the dark, throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks — however you want to phrase it, it’s expensive and it could be wasting a lot of time and money. But if you’re instead spending that time and money in specific areas where you have a much better chance at hitting your targets, that’s going to yield a solid return on investment that your leadership team will love to see.

It may be cliche, but the phrase, “Work smarter, not harder” comes to mind here. 

Why pay writers to crank out dozens of blogs covering a variety of topics, when you can instead use data to see which keywords and topics your target audience is interested in? That’s a much better use of your writers’ time. 

Why spend thousands on paid ads for a wide audience with very few potential leads when you can narrow the audience and lower the spend to get a much greater chance at reaching someone who’s willing to buy? 

These are questions a marketing manager will have to answer, and having data to present which supports your decisions and demonstrates how your assets are spent wisely will go a long way to keeping your marketing resources flowing.

RELATED: 4 Steps to Determine Inbound Marketing Reporting Needs

It’s all about ROI and having facts to back up your marketing strategies. If you think a blog about a certain subject will perform well and your boss asks why, you can reference the keyword data that led you to this conclusion as your proof. If you’re thinking of bumping up ad spend in one area and reducing it in another, you can present the lead attribution numbers that support this decision

With data-driven marketing, you can attribute that ROI directly to the marketing channels. There’s a clear, visible link, and being able to see it makes it that much easier to greenlight more marketing resources.

Everything ultimately comes down to the bottom line, and that bottom line is a lot healthier when marketing decisions are being driven by hard numbers and statistics rather than pure conjecture.

Identifying How Marketing Can Grow Your Business Using the Flywheel

Data-driven marketing lets you find the opportunities and ways where you can make your marketing more impactful by removing friction and adding force throughout your buyer’s journey. This methodology is called the inbound marketing flywheel, and we’ve set up a helpful 21-page guide to walk you through it!

Just click to access your free copy of our Inbound Flywheel Overview & Workbook and learn how you can apply it to your business today.

Flywheel Overview & Workbook

Topics: Inbound Marketing, Marketing Metrics & Analytics

Annual marketing plan template and resources