A data-led approach to decision making is something that is often used, but never fully adopted or appreciated. While key statistics might be incorporated into certain decisions, other forms of data are overlooked as being relatively insignificant when, in actual fact, they could identify a wealth of business growth opportunities.
We’ve looked at the use of data before on the Meet Hugo blog and are huge advocates for using data however and wherever possible in order to inform our own decision making processes and to identify new opportunities whether it is in the content we create, the sales techniques we use or the decisions we make as a wider business over expansions into new markets or the people we hire in our departments.
Here we’re going to take a look at a number of different data forms and how it can be interpreted to help you make effective business growth decisions. We’ll also take a look at how to incorporate this data analysis into presentations which might just lead to incredible content or marketing strategies which wow prospects and result in your next client win.
Why does data improve my growth prospects?
Before we dive into the data it’s important to understand why it makes such a difference to your business growth prospects.
Ultimately, data can paint a clear picture of business trends and performance which we might not otherwise be able to see. Sure, we can sit back and look at the number of new subscribers to a platform or the number of sales made in a given period of time, but without analysing the data and comparing it to other periods of time or even the number of people who have unsubscribed or made returns in that time, it doesn’t paint an accurate picture of the landscape.
This can lead some businesses to believe that the future is looking very bright indeed when, in actual fact, it might not be as rosy. The data available to you can stop you from proceeding with potentially costly business growth plans, and may just enable you to take stock and re-evaluate your approach so that you can grow at your own pace with a solid, data-led strategy rather than going gung-ho and putting all your eggs in one basket only to watch them smash in front of you when it doesn’t quite go as planned.
Your data can also inspire you to go after growth opportunities, based on the resource you have available and the potential return on your investment. After all, there’s no point going after a $5,000 contract if it’s going to cost you $5,500 in resources to put the pitch together and do the work!
At Meet Hugo we provide our subscribers with a wealth of sales intelligence including information on tenders and buying signals, the value of the project and the deadline for proposals, and clients can then assess whether or not to pursue the opportunity that we send them. Having subscribed to our platform and weighed up whether or not to go after the project, it’s down to the business to decide if it is a financially viable opportunity or not, and if the business were to win this project then it’s a great return on the investment in our services and both time and money saved on lead generation efforts.
6 types of data everyone can collect and use
There are all kinds of qualitative and quantitative data that you can collect, but there are five forms of data that businesses in all sectors and of all sizes can use to your advantage when pulling together your next strategy, proposal or presentation.
- Keyword data.
Keyword research is one of the most valuable tools and identifies where your focusses should lie when it comes to content creation. By researching what your users are searching for to help them find your brand and website you can tailor the content of your whole website to meet those needs.
Are they searching for the brand, are they looking for specific products or services that you offer, or are they looking for information? Whatever the answer, you can extract this information from platforms such as Google Search Console and then use their Keyword Planner tool to measure the monthly search volumes associated with each term and any related keywords or phrases that you might be able to capitalise on with your strategy to drive even more users to your site.
- Organic search data
We touched on it there, but Google Search Console can also be used to show you the nature of people’s visit to your website and how they engaged with the various pages and services.
Google collects all kinds of valuable data and because it’s in your own account it is all unique and available for you to use to your strategic advantage. Here you can identify trends such as the day of the week that people tend to visit your site most, along with when there are any lulls (such as the weekend for B2B agencies), how long they are on the site and how many pages they interact with and even demographic data.
Not only that, you can identify the channels they use to access your site. Google will provide you with the total number of visitors to your site, but they will also break it down so you can see how many came through organic search (typing keywords into Google and clicking on a result), different platforms (such as social media) or even devices (such as tablets).
- Social media statistics
To many, social media is just a channel they use to promote their brand and range of products or services, but you can collect social media statistics and turn them into valuable references for your marketing.
If your followers and likes are on the increase then you’re clearly doing something right as people are choosing to follow you, but at the same time you need to pay attention to metrics such as engagement - the number of likes, shares and retweets that you get for each of your posts. When the engagement figures start to go up you’re definitely on the right track, but if they’re going the wrong way then you need to assess why. It could be that your audience simply aren’t interested in what you’re posting, or that there is nothing in particular to engage with such as an image, video or link.
- Email marketing data
If you’re running any email marketing campaigns then you’ve got a wealth of data at your fingertips. Email platforms like MailChimp give you the ability to build marketing lists and campaigns by getting people to sign up to newsletters and updates through your website, and you can then tailor the messages you send depending on the nature of the list.
It could be a list of people who registered for sales and promotional updates, you might also have a list of people who subscribed to newsletters and to be alerted when a new post goes live on your blog.
Your chosen email platform will give you access to data relating to every single campaign you run including the number of people who opened the email, the number of people who clicked on a link within it, and the number of people who chose to unsubscribe from the list for whatever reason. Monitoring these metrics is key, as you can easily assess which campaigns are working best for you and which need work, as it may be that you need to ramp up engagement in one campaign through different messaging, or that you need to keep up your promotional efforts in another because people just can’t get enough of your great deals (or content!)
- Business growth data
Business growth data is great for making important strategic decisions, and that goes for your own business, clients and prospects. If you can identify key industry trends that clients and prospects may not have spotted by looking closely at data available - such as the speed in which they have started ranking organically, missed keyword opportunities and seasonal data that could open doors - you can transform your strategy or pitch into one that really hits home around the boardroom table and gets everyone thinking.
It might be that a client is about to make a terrible decision and your access to their data might prevent them from making it, while also advising them on a more suitable route. Similarly, you might have a prospect who says that they are looking to increase engagement and brand awareness by a monumental amount, and their data seems to back this up. You can then use their growth data to map out where they could get to, and how you’ll get them there with your strategy.
- Partner data
Working with external partners can present you with some really insightful and interesting data through collaboration. When we launched Partner With Meet Hugo, the aim was to reward businesses who refer their network to us, allowing them to build an additional revenue stream. We also provide them with extra resources and insights based on data through our Sales Academy content.
This has two benefits for our partners. Firstly, they can analyse the additional money generated from their referrals to make data driven decisions on whether partnership programmes are a sustainable revenue stream for their business and one which they should expand as another part of their model. It also allows them to take advantage of the extra resources we make available to refine their prospecting, pitching and sales techniques.
Of course, it also has benefits to us as the feedback and performance data allows us to evolve our sales intelligence service and tailor our content to meet the needs of our clients and partners.
How to interpret and present the data you collect
Once you have access to the data it’s important that you take the time to sit down and analyse it clearly and concisely.
This information could open new business opportunities, increase sales or help renew a subscription, so ensuring that you have accurate data that everyone can see and understand is vitally important. With that in mind you need to take a deeply analytical approach to your data collection, and display the figures to everyone else in a way that makes it crystal clear.
While many are great with figures, others prefer straight facts rather than fractions and percentages, so how you interpret and present the data is key. Visuals are always the best way of displaying data whether it’s a graph, chart or even a graphic that you can embed into a document or presentation.
When people can see clear trends on a graph or chart, or a graphic stands out to them in a document full of text, it’s immediately obvious what the data is showing and then even the least statistical in the team can see the direction in which things are currently heading and the opportunities available to them. If they can see that competitors are driving three times more traffic to their website through a campaign that they haven’t even thought about, it might convince them to act, and similarly if the data reveals an opportunity that none of the competitors - nor the client - are acting on, then it’s the perfect time to pitch the idea and implement it into your strategy.
The opportunities that this data can uncover
Content is by far and away one of the most common opportunities that your data insights can help with, transforming a run-of-the-mill content plan into a potentially game-changing content strategy based on data and genuine opportunities.
Over the years many businesses have sat down with their marketing teams and worked on content plans based purely on seasonal events and business promotion, without thinking too much about what they’re saying, why they’re saying it, who they’re saying it to or how it’s going to benefit anyone. If your content is not engaging, educational or informative then it serves little to no purpose and is potentially more harmful than beneficial because readers simply turn off and don’t come back. You’ve wasted their time.
With a data-led approach, however, your content strategy has the potential to capitalise on missed opportunities by yourselves and your competitors, while also targeting the perfect audience at the right time. Seasonal data is fantastic, especially from a strategic standpoint, and you have the ability to work on content ahead of time so that it is written, published and indexed by search engines well in advance of peak search periods so you’re already there and waiting for customers rather than playing catch-up, by which time it’s already likely to be too late unless you work for a major media outlet!
You can then build these ideas into your content plan complete with target audience, the publication period, the most effective content format for this piece (such as a blog, ebook or video), and where it will be published including your site, social channels and any email newsletters to maximise coverage and impact.
Data is a vastly under-utilized resource in business and it’s time to start using it to your advantage. If you’re not already implementing a data-led approach, and even if you are, I hope you found this guide useful and it’s given you something to think about when it comes to your next pitch or presentation, or strategic discussion.
Simply transforming raw facts and figures into visuals can be a highly valuable resource in itself, taking your own unique data and creating a great piece of content that can be used as a show-stopper on your site, part of your next marketing campaign or even something to engage users on social media, so why not give it a try?