The Data Within – Get to know your First Party Data

To make your data work harder for your marketing program, you need to understand what you’ve got to work with. Here’s data audit advice from James McDonald and Tom Evans, co-founders of independent full-service media agency Audience Group.

Whether you are just setting out to leverage your first party data for your marketing, advertising and media program, or you’re trying to level up your data-driven efforts, the best way to kick it off is with a data audit.  The goal is to identify what data you have and shine a light on the gaps you need to fill.

By the end of your data audit, you should have identified data sets for three different buckets of data: data that is easy to get your hands on, data that is hard to access, and data you have yet to discover. You will select data sets from each of these categories to inform your marketing, media and advertising strategy.

Three Buckets of Data

1. The Data you Know
List the data sets you already have access to and can readily identify. List everything you already use, and include data sets you haven’t found a use for yet.

2. The Data you Wish you Had
List the data you wish you had access to. This might include things like real-time sales data, KPIs from a critical line of business, financial forecasts, sales performance by region or any metric you believe would inform your program.

You might not know how to identify the data set specifically or who to ask for them. Don’t let that stop you when making this list. Include questions you wish you could answer.  Questions like: Could we predict whether one customer visiting the website could be more profitable than another? Can we link advertising spend to regional product availability or demand in real-time? How can I better target specific areas or neighbourhoods that are more likely to be interested in our localised offering?

Use Case: Data stored on an as-a-service platform is your data.
On one client’s wish list was access to data stored on its third-party ticketing platform. We helped this performing arts organisation improve collaboration with its ticketing platform provider to gain real-time access to ticketing data and create new data collection points for even richer information with which to understand, segment and target its customers. They can now develop a better understanding of the customer journey and the effect and attribution of media investment upon that journey.

3. The Data you Haven’t Seen Yet
Go on a data hunt within your business, looking for data sets with potential.  You need to find the data that you don’t already know about. We call this type of first-party data “invisible data”. Your business is generating it. Someone knows about it and may even be using it, but Marketing doesn’t know it exists.

Invisible data might not be valuable on its own but can become very useful if enriched with the right second- and third-party data.

Of course, there’s also all the unstructured data your business has that has yet to be identified. You may need help with that layer of exploration.

Invisible data is there, but you could easily miss it unless you ask the right questions or work with a data scientist with marketing insight expertise. You are missing it.

Use Case: You may already have the data source you need to answer that burning question.
A shop owner thought his foot traffic had improved significantly but couldn’t quantify the improvement because he didn’t have a traffic counter in place. Looking for a relevant source of historical data with which to answer that question, we might find out he has in-store Wi-Fi. Using the Wi-Fi server log, he could count the number of devices that walked into the store each day – at least those with Wi-Fi enabled – to estimate foot traffic growth. He could even analyse the data over time to quantify return customers.

Invite others to the data audit party

Bringing people in from around the business or from outside the business will present you with views that are not influenced by previous issues you have faced or perceived barriers about what “can’t be done”. They can provide lateral thinking that can spark new ideas. 

Use Case: Optimise keywords with invisible data.
A client with a call centre keeps getting outbid on the keywords it wants and can’t figure out what to do about it. We bring data expertise and lateral thinking to a Revelation Workshop (aka data audit) and suggest converting all phone call recordings from a certain time period to text and using basic text mining to identify words that customers consistently mention. From this, they can identify more cost-effective, still, very relevant words to buy that their competitors aren’t already on to. They can use existing audio data to generate actionable insights and business value.

Armed with your data audit and the necessary advice, you will be able to put together a plan to make better use of your first party data. That’s a step in the right direction.

This article was contributed by James McDonald and Tom Evans, co-founders of the Audience Group.

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