Why data is key to growth in 2021 and beyond
Richard Alvin, Group MD at Capital Business Media, explains why data remains so important - and why reports of its redundancy are greatly exaggerated.
If “time is money,” then so is data. If time can be commoditised, then virtually anything can be. Supply and demand determine the value of that commodity, and data is in no short supply.
Some argue that 90% of it is utterly useless, draining energy resources for digital storage and contributing to 4% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, but they’re wrong. Data is the key to growth in 2021 and I have the stats to prove it.
What about digital pollution?
It may astonish you that satellites are not the only players in data transfer. The proliferation of subsea cabling over the past 35 years has had a pivotal role in connecting the world at the expense of our planet.
Yet while the debate continues on whether the world’s data is worth more than oil and gold, there are concerns about the environmental factors and capturing personal identifiable information (PII). There are now 4.66 billion active internet users, encompassing 59% of the global population who are (knowingly) giving away their data for free.
However, with data comes the ability to understand behaviour and better manage resources, from the energy consumption of businesses and households, to the water in our reservoirs.
How much is data worth to my business?
A lot. The pandemic has forced over 90,000 UK businesses online, opening eCommerce stores to websites to effectively manage day-to-day interaction with customers. But without the right insights, this interaction is flawed.
Companies often assume data just means personal data, ranging from name, date of birth and email address, to the more obscure like pets, hobbies, height, and weight. Some websites can also store bank information, as well as links to social media accounts and the public data shared on them. But I’m talking about understanding their preferences using data and browsing history.
Can you imagine knowing your customer so well that you know exactly what they want to read, and tailoring your content to each reader?
Well, without the right tools incorporated in your website, such as social media plugins and cookies, you could be losing a lot of valuable insight into how your customers behave and interact with your products and services, as well as regular online engagement.
The information that people relinquish when they enter a website is priceless. All they want to do is get to the content, so they click ‘accept’ to a cookie pop-up without reading the terms.
However, if they find the website slow and difficult to navigate, you’ll see a huge number switching to competitors - which affects your Google ranking. Plus, with mobile phones now the primary choice for accessing an online storefront, having websites that are fully optimised across all devices is imperative to success.
If people bounce off your page quickly (the average is between 45% and 75%) then Google algorithms will log it as an unreliable source of information in line with E-A-T (expertise, authority and trust) and time spent on page.
How do I collect and analyse the right data?
There are a number of tools to use when analysing your website data to enhance your impact; and going about it is dependent on the size and type of your business, and how you value the data.
As a publishing company, information and data is our commodity. We want to be able to assert our expertise, authority and gain trust when each user visits our website, reads our newsletters, watches our videos and listens to our podcasts.
We had a solid foundation of data to work with based on our readership, but we wanted to do more to meet the needs of our viewers and grow our online audience.
Implementing Google Analytics alongside Tableau features and SEMRush, let us compare the chatter in the ether through these different tools.
We looked at our social media analytics and created a bespoke setup of our Salesforce CRM system for all this data to feed into.
We used AI heatmaps and tracked users on the site, recording how long they spent, what they read, and which adverts they clicked. We also gathered data via cookies, as well as the chatter associated with users on social channels, plus any email marketing behaviours. We created a complete picture of an individual so we could ensure they only read, watched and listened to what interested them.
The result of all this data analysis increased our unique visitors by 42%. In addition, our bounce rate dropped to 6.8% in January 2021.
Our brand’s trust barometer has increased with our partners and readers. It allows us to deliver a high level of expertise through targeted content that is creative, timely, relevant and personalised - from direct email marketing to advertising. We only provide users with useful information based on search behaviour across all channels.
A live analytical tool like this will consistently empower us to monitor behaviour and user traffic so we can adapt - we cannot afford not to, especially in this climate.
If you don’t have the resources to invest in large analytical tools, then start small, using Google Analytics to help determine what you need to do. Invest a little in AI technologies to help with your site audit; fix broken links; refresh content to fit into the current conversations; and consistently elevate your customers' experience by applying simple plugins to understand them better.
So if you’re asking whether data is essential to the growth of your business, then yes it is. There’s an infinite amount of digital data analysis available to anyone who would like a solid gold return on investment.
Data analysis increases your brand credibility, exposes you as an expert with authority and gains the trust of your customers.