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  • Writer's pictureRachel Morgan

Effective data planning and strategic development for marketing

Updated: May 30, 2023

Strategic planning is going to become increasingly important for your SME to survive and actively grow over the next 12 months.

As an SME, it is more than likely that you will need to improve your marketing effort to attract new customers but also to drive re-purchases from existing ones.

However, for a lot of SMEs marketing can be new territory with a concern that it is wasting money or it thought of as the more fluffy side of the business; I have even heard it referred to as the "colouring-in department".

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

John Wanamaker (1838-1922)

But nowadays, with digital marketing and good customer relationship building, a marketing strategy based on a data mindset will focus on impact and on-going optimisation. It is far from being fluffy but will be the engine to grow the businesses.

Like any strategy, an effective marketing strategy will require a clear objective to focus effort to deliver the greatest returns. Typically this will be acquisition, retention or conversion. Most businesses will want to do all of these have not got the resources available.

Putting your customer at the heart of your marketing strategy will help to define what the opportunities are. It will inform the planning of the components of your marketing execution, the messaging, targeting and channel mix, or at least, guide you where to start to develop a testing plan against these components.

Marketing is made up of channel, messaging and targeting with Customer at the heart
Customer at the heart of your marketing

Having a better understanding of your customers will help to define what the objectives should be for your marketing strategy and how it supports the key components:

  • Who is your target audience?

  • Who is converting?

  • Who are your customers?

  • Who are the most valuable customers?

  • What & when are they buying?

  • How have they responded to previous marketing activity?

Our Data planning approach

Working with clients to build their marketing strategy we focus on three key areas:

  1. Identifying Opportunities & Strategic Planning

  2. Developing optimisation plans

  3. Delivering marketing & digital moments

For this blog, we are focussing on the first 2

1. Identifying Opportunities & Strategic Planning

If, like a lot of our clients, your business intelligence is Product and Stock control focused and you do not know the answers to the questions about your customer we often start with a deep dive Exploratory Data Analysis (EDA).

We take a holistic view of all the data across a business, sales transactions, channel metrics, on-line engagement and customer service to provide a customer view to your business. To determine what the customer levers are (i.e. visit, purchase, re-purchase) that need to be improved.

A useful output from the EDA is a macro customer sales funnel, to visualise where the areas for growth are and build scenarios to quantify the potential impact on improving the customer levers.

Sales funnel, showing the different levels from Market size to Returning customer
Customer sales funnel

These scenarios will help you plan and create hypotheses that the marketing strategy needs to focus.

For example: Have you got a leaky bucket where you are spending a lot of money attracting one-time customers never to return or worse, are they not even converting into customers?

An EDA is a powerful project where we have seen it revolutionise businesses as they were focussing on the wrong things. As Cassie Kozyrkov Head of Chief Decision Scientist at Google describes this as 'a sort of guided meditation'.

Read our blog Do you know where to focus to get the greatest return? for a more in-depth look at how and EDA could work for your business.

The second part of 'Identifying Opportunities & Strategic Planning' is to dig deeper into how customers are behaving differently. For example, you may have a low conversion rate which could be driven by a specific group of customers.

By segmenting or grouping your customers based on purchasing behaviour you will be able to determine who your high-value customers are and the ones with the greatest potential.

Using this insight will start to build out your marketing strategy further and determine what the objectives are against each group, what channel they prefer and respond best to, what messaging is appropriate, relevant and timely.

There are several ways in which you can segment your customers based on the objective you want to achieve. Read our blog Segmentation can mean many things

2. Developing optimisation plans

Once you have your marketing strategy defined you can create your optimisation plan, using the hypotheses from the strategic planning stage around the customer.

A testing approach to your marketing strategy will enable you to optimise and continue to plan by developing on-going insight. However, it is important to ensure you measure the tests and that the results are significant.

We set out our 4 steps to Testing in our Curiosity Drives Optimisation blog to help construct your testing plan.

A robust testing plan will work together with a measurement plan to ensure that you are learning and optimising going forward. Often businesses are overrun with metrics and dashboards that soon become wallpaper and not used to make decisions.

Establishing that you are measuring the right things, based on the EDA, Customer groups and testing plans will put you in control of your overall marketing strategy and business decisions.

Read our blog Design your measurement strategy to deliver business improvements here

We would love to hear from you if you want to know more about how this could work for you business - email or book a discovery call our website


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