Sixteen Million. That’s the number of Google results for the term “Big Data.” And when you look at the historic interest in Google trends, the story is pretty clear – Big Data is here to stay. But do you really need more data than you already have? I doubt it.
Chasing The Big Data Rainbow?
Over the past few years, I have seen agencies, marketers and brands collect and analyze more data than ever before. And now with the development of new platforms, channels, KPIs and measurements, I’m finding an ever-growing hunger for new data sources. I constantly hear marketers either complaining about not having enough data or screaming for more.
But have they gotten all the insights out of their existing data yet? Probably not. Yet they clamor for Big Data!
Now, don’t get me wrong — I think Big Data it is a good thing. It will help us all better understand and connect with consumers. And to a data nerd like me, that sounds pretty amazing.
However, Big Data often means more data. Lots more data. And from what I have seen, marketers are not making the most of the data they already have, so why do they need more of it?
I believe that most marketers are asking for more data just for the sake of asking. Perhaps it’s the very lure of Big Data that is distracting them from digging deeper into the data they already have. Maybe they are caught-up in chasing the Big Data rainbow?
Stop Complaining And Start Digging!
The truth is most marketers can get a lot more value from their existing data than they realize. That’s because data has great depth if you know how to slice/dice/segment it. Sources like Google Analytics and Google AdWords contain considerable insights just waiting to be uncovered.
You just need to give your current data a closer look. That means you need to stop complaining about not having enough data/needing more, and start digging a bit deeper into what you already have.
To demonstrate what I am talking about, I’ve included some example insights you can gain from your current search data.
1. Look At On-Page Engagement By Day-Of-Week
Chances are that you know how much traffic you are getting each day. But do you know what day of the week consumers are the most engaged with your on-site content?
Knowing which days of the week are your best performers is valuable insight. For starters, it can tell you what days it makes sense to increase your ad spend, and what days you should save your money or invest in different channels.
Fortunately, today’s analytics platforms allow you to export your data in granular segments. This will enable you to use a tool like Spotfire, Tableau, or even Excel, and create a report like the one below, which is looking at “Engagement (pages-per-visit) by day of the week.”
As you can see in the graph, this brand has greater engagement during the weekend and tailing into Monday. This is a pattern we see for a lot of CPG and beauty brands, and it often points to pre-purchase research/couponing.
(Methodology: Analyzed 200K PPC visits over a 3 month period on branded terms. Measured by PPV and grouped by day-of-week. Category is CPG.)
2. Examine Day-Of-Week Ad Copy Engagement
We get some especially interesting insights when we look at the same brand as above, during the same period, but evaluate its Adwords CTR Performance (behavior on the search engine results page).
As you can clearly see, the patterns are the same — low during the week and gradually increasing as we head into the weekend. However, what makes this view interesting is that we do not see high activity on Monday. In fact, Monday has the worst CTR of the week.
One possible hypothesis is that the purchase cycle is starting over again. Perhaps the consumer starts with general, competitive research on Monday. Then, as she gets closer to the weekend, she decides to eventually engage with the brand site.
(Methodology: Analyzed 1M+ PPC visits over a 3 month period on branded terms. Measured by Google Adwords CTR and grouped by day-of-week. Category is CPG)
3. Isolate Local Ad Copy Engagement
I’m sure you are measuring and optimizing the CTR of your search ads – that’s pretty basic. However, have you ever broken your CTRs out by region? The regional consumer insights you can uncover are a great asset to the brand and your traditional/direct marketing teams.
The graph below shows the CTR for the same brand used in the above example, only here it is grouped by state. Interestingly, this view of the data shows a huge difference in the CTR by state. In some cases, we determined that the CTR was related to the ad copy creator’s heritage – ads created by a Midwestern native are more appealing to a Midwestern audience.
In some other cases, we found that the difference in CTR can be a reflection of regional brand awareness – if they don’t know you, they are less likely to select you.
Findings like the latter can help you create a more targeted media plan focused on increasing brand awareness in a particular region. After campaign kickoff, you can utilize the same search data to measure success. (Click image to enlarge.)
(Methodology: Analyzed states with at least 10,000 PPC impressions in position 1-2 over a 3 month period on unbranded terms. Category is CPG.)
4. Analyze Device-Specific Engagement
One of my favorite things to look at is targetable attributes such as device. The theory is that if you can use previous campaign data to identify a device with the best engagement, you can then increase your bid on highly converting devices and reduce your spend on devices that just don’t seem to work on your site.
For instance, take a look at the below example comparing conversion rates of various mobile devices. Clearly, Apple devices are outperforming the competition when it comes to engagement (X-Axis) and overall volume (size of circle). (Click the image to enlarge.)
(Methodology: 6 months of PPC traffic in unbranded campaigns against the same landing page, using different devices in North America during weekdays. Sample size: minimum 4K visits per device. Y-Axis: Conversion Rate. X-Axis : Pages per visit. Color: Manufacturer. Size: Overall volume.)
However, when we look at the conversion rate (Y-Axis), Samsung is clearly outperforming Apple.
Surprisingly, we can also spot some interesting performance metrics among the Kindle Family (blue dots). While engagement and volume are low, Kindle’s conversions are better than, or on par with, Apple’s.
Insights like these open up room for a lot of questions: “Is our site performing better on Android? Do we have a checkout/conversion metric issue on iOS? Or does our Android audience just have more purchase intent?”
But no matter what question is most applicable to your brand, you can use these insights to better optimize your campaigns and focus on devices that matter.
5. Look At Day-Of-Month Trends
Marketers are always looking at historic data, but by only focusing on the past 30/60/90 days, we could miss out on some important behavioral patterns. For instance, if you aggregate your historic data by day-of-month (instead of day-of-week as in #1 and #2), you can uncover some great insights into your consumers.
There are many theories about why people may spend more on certain days of the month versus others, and each time I apply it to a brand, I discover new patterns and behaviors. For example, the below graph for a high-end consumer electronics brand demonstrates the paycheck theory, where people make most purchases around the first of the month.
(Methodology: 12 months of PPC (Green) and SEO (Orange) data showing conversion rate against the same landing page, *mostly unbranded traffic (*Thank you secure search!).)
Challenge Yourself To Get More Value Now!
I hope these five suggestions have inspired you to dig deeper into your current search data, instead of chasing the Big Data rainbow and wishing you had more. The next time you – or someone else – start to complain about needing more data, remember that you can always get more value from the data you already have. Challenge yourself to do exactly that!
Have you examined how local weather impacts your web traffic/impressions? Or whether or not industry news items affect purchasing? Or my personal favorite — does a change in organic rank impact your paid CTR? Tell me how you are getting more value out of your current data!
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.