Importance of Data in Digital Marketing

data points as numbers

Marketing analytics and data are playing a larger and larger role in strategising your way forward as a business. No matter what industry you’re in or your business size, data is impacting how you operate and your marketing strategy.

Big Data is a buzzword you’re hearing everywhere. But it’s not just a buzzword or a trend, it’s a movement of understanding your customers, your unique buying cycle, and your content strategy.

Knowing the data comes back to everything we do.

Determining your goals? Your social media strategy? Your marketing strategy?

These should all be informed decisions made through data.

Understanding the importance of big data and analytics in digital marketing is pivotal in today’s technological-based world. 42% of companies want to prove the ROI (return on investment) of their marketing tactics, though. So, the understanding is still important!

Your data analytics guide you to what is and isn’t working in your marketing and how to better reach your customers. So, let’s get started!

What is Marketing Data?

When most people think of marketing data, they jump to website analytics and social media.

Your marketing analytics are so much more than your website data. It is all of your marketing data. Meaning your social media data, your email marketing, your ads, your website, your downloads, etc.

The great thing about the data is it ties all of your efforts together. The data and your goals should be interconnected.

Why Data is Important in Digital Marketing

Everything is connected.

The modern consumer journey requires data to know where your consumers are coming from, what is generating leads, what information is resonating with them, and what a normal buying cycle is like for your company. Someone sees a post on Facebook, follows you on Instagram and sees a new product, reads your latest blog but doesn’t purchase until they see your ad pop up alongside another website. It’s a different kind of user journey! The user journey is now much more complex, and typically involves multiple platforms and campaigns.

Your marketing data ensures you are following the leads and the people, not individual metrics.

Many times, we can get lost in the weeds—marketers especially. The data can show you an overall image of what’s happening with your customers and with your user journey. It helps you navigate the large picture, so you can start impactfully changing the individual parts.

Can My Small Business Do Big Data?

Marketing data can often be overwhelming. Small businesses hear “big data” and think that’s not for me.

Oh, but it is.

With so many different tools and tracking options, any business of any size can tap into their analytics. They can discover the key points for each of their customer personas. The data dictates where to go—as in what platforms to focus your attention, when to post, what kind of content, etc. It also helps you extend a more personalised experience to every customer and potential customer. Personalised and customised interactions are wanted and needed in marketing now.

Data is like the compass in Pocahontas leading us on our path! Your destiny is where your customers are and what they want.

How to Get Started With Marketing Analytics: Your Customer Personas

Your customers dictate everything in your marketing. What matters is who is purchasing your products and your audience.

(side note) It’s not you, it’s them. But for real, it isn’t about you, it’s about your customers.

By determining your customer personas and first using data to analyse your customers, you will have a good foundation for moving forward.

Your customer personas help create your overall marketing strategy as well as your digital marketing strategy.

This isn’t a one and done, though. Nothing with to do with analytics and data is assessing it once.

You’ll continuously be looking more into your customers and trying to understand them better and better the entire time you’re in business. The same with all of your data. The more insight you have, the better, more strategic decisions you can make.

From your customer personas, your data can also lead you to another foundational piece: how your customers go through your marketing funnel and sales cycle.

Your Business’ Unique Marketing Funnel and Sales Cycle

With marketing data, you can see how people are traveling through your marketing funnel and your sales cycle. The marketing funnel and sales cycle is unique to each business. Though, the concept is the same, no two companies will have the same process.

The marketing funnel goes through the stages of Awareness, Interest, Evaluation, Trial, and Adoption. This then, hopefully, repeats with the Loyalty Phase.

marketing funnel diagram

Your marketing strategy goes through the Trial Phase, helping customers keep you top of mind and arming them with resources and information as to why they should choose you.

It’s called a marketing funnel because you’re funnelling people through the process, but it also typically gets smaller as you go through each phase. Sometimes, people have started to refer to this as your marketing cycle as well since it occurs in a cyclical fashion. Your customer may not go through this phase in a linear fashion. Maybe they’re aware of you and they have interest but then they forget. They come back to needing your services again later. They may go back to the Awareness Phase at this point, where you need to pull them back into Interest and Evaluation.

Your marketing analytics feed into your marketing funnel because the analytics can tell you things like:

Your different tactics will be grouped into different segments of the funnel, and with the data you can see which efforts are contributing, which ones are leading to final sales, where they are going from each individual touchpoint.

Your different strategies within each aspect of the marketing funnel phase will have different data points associated with them.

Which brings us to the types of data you can collect.

Types of Data

As we tell our clients or potential clients, the marketing data and your customers drive the marketing strategy.

Your marketing strategy is integral to success but even more important is properly reading the data and pivoting your strategy for your customer.

There is a lot of data you can generate in today’s world. The data you’re pulling will be set by your marketing strategy. Some of the data you can be collecting could be:

And each of these marketing strategies will have their own deep dive into their analytics. The data helps dictate the ROI generated from your social media as well as all of your marketing efforts.

This is often the overwhelming point. But this should be the fun part! You’re seeing what is and isn’t working from your strategy and where to put more of your efforts.

Once you know the types of data you’ll be utilising, which is determined by your marketing strategy—if you’re not doing any email marketing campaigns, you won’t have to determine a data strategy for it—your goals come into play.


Your digital marketing goals should stem from your overall company goals.

Businesses frequently talk about their goals, but often they aren’t connected to their marketing efforts. For instance, maybe it was decided in the marketing strategy that we’ll hold one event per month. Some questions arising from that are:

You need to know what impact your marketing is having on your company. As well as clear goals for each campaign. These goals help you improve each time.

Without measuring or tracking how your campaigns are doing, you’re simply creating content to create. With the marketing analytics, you can adjust your content for maximum impact. It’s really a win-win.

Connecting Your Goals to KPIs

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are the metrics you’ll measure to know how you are performing. Not all marketing metrics are KPIs but all KPIs are marketing metrics.

The KPIs are your top points to track to see how you’re doing overall.

Some examples of your marketing KPIs could be:

Your set goals are where you will start with your KPIs. From your goals, you know what is important and you can track the key aspects of them.

Types of marketing metrics could be associated with customer satisfaction, brand awareness, sales or content creation. Your goals in these areas help determine the KPIs.

For instance, if your company goal is brand awareness, this could lead you to have set ads on Facebook (your most popular social media platform) geared for brand awareness. A KPI tracking these ads would be the Reach.

With your KPIs decided upon, you have the foundation of what marketing analytics you’ll be tracking to have an overview of how your strategy is doing.

Your marketing data pulls these KPIs together allowing you to do a deep dive into each aspect of your marketing strategy, your sales cycle and your marketing funnel as well as have a clear overview picture of your efforts.

Tracking Your Marketing Data

You’ve outlined your overall marketing strategy, have your goals, and know your individual KPIs. You are ready to rock n’ roll!

With all of this in hand, you can start pulling your marketing data from a variety of sources that make sense for you. There are a lot of paid analytic tools available today—people know the importance of data and aren’t afraid to profit from it. But don’t let that scare you away. There are also a lot of free data tools.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the tools you can use to gather data on the main digital marketing efforts.

Website Analytics

Google Analytics will be your best friend when it comes to tracking your data. Google Analytics is a free software offered by Google. You put a tracking code into the backend of your website, and you then have access to your website’s user information. Google Analytics dives into the demographics of your users, what pages they visited the most, how they navigated your site, how long they stayed on each page and so much more. The Google Analytics Help Center has some great tutorials for you to get started.

Since your website is your central hub of online activity, Google Analytics tracks how people come to website and how they interact with it.

Like we talked about above, the modern-day user journey involves many different platforms and content. Google Analytics also helps you track where people came from throughout the internet. Did they click through on a mobile ad, did they come from an organic Facebook post, come over from a referral link on another website?

With Google Analytics, you’ll know.

Email Marketing

Most email marketing platforms offer you analytics on your open rate, what links were clicked and your bounce rate.

These platforms are a great starting point. Don’t forget, especially when first starting out in email marketing, to research the standards for your industry, though. You can use the industry standards as a comparison point until you have you generated enough campaigns to do a comparison and start generating internal trends.

For instance, your industry open rate could be 25% but after tracking your campaigns, you’ve found your customer newsletter has a typical open rate of 33%. The standards are good comparison points, but don’t forget to compare your data internally as well for what is your company’s averages.

You should be your own benchmark for your marketing data.

Social Media

To track your social media data, there are native analytics, those analytics on each social media platform itself, and third-party analytics software.  

We always suggest when you’re first starting out to use the free native analytics. The tools are only as good as you are. If you aren’t sure what you’re tracking yet or what data you’re pulling, the tools are only going to be so helpful.

This is also dictated by your company’s revenue and what your ROI on social is.

There is a plethora of platforms who offer paid services, such as Hootsuite and Sprout Social, which come not only with the scheduling tool for your social media but also in-depth analytics.

Blog Content

Blog content helps connect you with your audience and can be a great lead generator as well. Depending on what you’re offering on your blog, such as downloads or just straight on-the-page information, your analytics will be different.

For our own blog data, we use Google Analytics. Through it we can track how long people stayed on the blog, where they came from, what the bounce rates were. We can also see how people got to the blog. It helps tie in our promotional efforts on social media—does a certain type of content do better on Facebook versus Instagram?

As you can tell, the data can get pretty intertwined. It does offer you a great overview of what is effective for your marketing and tracking the individual through the different platforms. The marketing data you’re compiling is only as good as your analytical skills. Pulling data to have it saved in a report on your company database isn’t doing your digital marketing strategy any good.

The real importance of data is analysing it.

The Forty8Creates Team

The Future of Big Data

With technology increasing and information becoming more and more available, data analysis will only continue to play a large role in business.

No matter what industry you’re in, you want and need to understand your customer. Data is the way to gain that insight.

With data in place, you can start pivoting your strategy and moving forward the best way for your company. Start taking control of the trends and what people want to see, but in a way that makes sense for your business. Personalise your marketing efforts, do live videos, have events and be on platforms which will further connect you with your potential customers and build better brand loyalty.

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