Brand StrategyFebruary 18, 2021

The Marketer’s Guide to Data Quality

February 18, 2021
Marilyn Wilkinson Prof Pic
Marilyn Wilkinson
Digital Marketing Expert

These days, marketing is data-driven. Marketers rely on data to decide which audiences to target, what campaigns to run and where to invest their precious budget. But what happens when the data you trust is inaccurate? And how do you know if your data is high quality or not?

Why Data Quality Matters In Marketing

Using data to guide marketing decisions is a well-known best-practice. However, the effectiveness of your decision-making is highly reliant on the quality of the data you used to make that decision.

Data can be hugely helpful when it comes to strategic decision-making. For instance, understanding how different customer groups perceive your brand can help you focus on relevant audiences using audience segmentation, create relevant messaging, and tweak your product or service. This is all likely to result in increased ROI and higher overall customer satisfaction and retention.

Bad data could send you in entirely the wrong direction – which means, at best, ineffective campaigns and wasted budget, at worst, angry customers.

How Poor Data Quality Can Harm Your Brand

Have you heard of the new Coke story? During the Coca-Cola-Pepsi wars of the eighties, blind taste tests indicated that people preferred the sweeter taste of rival Pepsi-Cola. So, Coca-Cola decided to reformulate its recipe to launch a new product called New Coke.

The result? Customers hated it. In fact, Coca-Cola received so many complaints that they were forced to bring back the old recipe in less than three months. Even the company itself even refers to the failed rebrand as “one of the most memorable marketing blunders ever.”

So what went wrong? Their decision seemed perfectly logical and backed up by data. After all, they had performed almost 200,000 blind taste tests on consumers. The problem was that the data was incomplete - customers don’t buy beverages based on taste alone. Coca Cola had failed to take into account consumers’ emotional attachment and brand affinity.

The moral of the story? Check your data is reliable and that you are interpreting it correctly before making any big decisions. But how can you tell if your data is trustworthy or not?

Five Pillars of Data Quality

Good quality data meets these five criteria:

  1. Completeness – does your data show the full picture?

  2. Reliable – is the source of the data reliable?

  3. Consistency – are you being consistent in your use of data types, sources, and metrics?

  4. Timeliness – is the information up-to-date?

  5. Accuracy – are the numbers and values correct?

Which Marketing Tools Provide High-Quality Data?

While there are several places marketers can look to gain a better understanding of their brand performance, not all data sources are created equal. Some are more reliable than others. Here is an overview of the tools you can trust and the tools you should take with a pinch of salt. Let’s take a look at four popular tools that marketers often use to try and measure brand performance – which unfortunately is not very effective.

Social listening

Social listening is a popular way of finding out what people are saying about your brand on social media. It allows you to track posts and comments where people have mentioned you, analyze user demographics and measure user sentiment.

While some marketers feel social listening gives them access to valuable insights, it would be wise to treat the data with caution. Why? 90% of online communities simply lurk and observe. Of the remaining 10%, 9% of these people might comment from time to time. That means the insights generated by social listening come from just 1% of the total online users.

So, while it’s interesting to know what users are saying about your brand online, social listening data does not provide the complete picture.

Google Trends

Google Trends is based on data from the Google search engine and is meant to show you the level of interest in a topic and how it has developed over time.

One issue with Google trends data is that it’s normalized. Google adjusts the search volume data to account for other factors such as country size, so the numbers you see here are essentially a rating or score of how high the level of interest is. This is often open to misinterpretation as some people mistakenly think the numbers are referring to the search volume.

For instance, we can see here that the level of interest in Coca-Cola has remained relatively constant in the United States over the past five years and peaked in July 2020. Now, that’s interesting to know, but it doesn’t tell us anything about their target audience, how they feel about the Coca-Cola brand and how that perception has changed over time.

Google Search Console

Let’s say you run a big TV campaign. If it’s effective, people are more likely to search for your brand name on Google to find out more about you. You can use the Google Search Console to measure impressions and clicks. If these metrics have gone up, it’s a sign that brand awareness has increased. This method has limitations, though, since all you know is that more people are searching for you on Google. You don’t know who, or why, or anything about how they perceive your brand.

Traditional brand tracking software

If you use one of the more traditional brand tracking tools to measure your brand health, you might notice that they force you to focus on only 2-3 audience characteristics. For instance, you might be able to set age and gender, but not location as well. This means that you are not getting the full picture of your target audience and how they perceive your brand. To gain a deep understanding of your audience, you need to be able to consider all the complex, different characteristics which make your customers who they are.

Now, let’s take a look at some marketing tools with data you can trust.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics shows you a lot more than just how many users visited your site, which pages they viewed, which device they used, and where they jumped off. If you run an eCommerce store, Google Analytics can even tell you which items users have purchased and the transaction value, so you can calculate the ROI on your performance marketing campaigns.

The categories in the “audience” tab also reveal a lot about the people who visit your site. Under “demographics” you can find the age, gender, and location of your site visitors – at least, the ones who are logged into Google (the rest will show up as “unknown”).

The “Interests” category shows various affinity categories that your site visitors fall into, such as business travelers, movie lovers, and technophiles. You can directly use these audiences in your campaigns across other Google platforms, such as YouTube and Google Shopping. In addition, you can make a note of the characteristics your users commonly share to shape your targeting strategy on other platforms.

Latana Brand Tracking

This AI-powered tool allows businesses to track key brand KPIs, such as brand awareness and loyalty, among thousands of target audiences.

While this area of marketing is often considered subjective compared to eCommerce and performance marketing, it is our mission to make your brand campaigns measurable.

All too often, brand marketers are unsure whether or not their campaigns are truly resonating with their target audience. They end up shaping their marketing strategy based on their gut feelings rather than data. Marketers can tap into Google Analytics to gain precise data on website performance. We aim to deliver the same level of precision and accuracy to brand managers.

Latana prides itself on unmatchable data quality. Our machine learning technology accurately tracks all elements of your brand funnel and provides deep audience segmentation. Using Multilevel Regression and Postratification, we are able to process large sample sizes and avoid bias or skewed results when analyzing niche audiences comprised of several different characteristics. Our data is also known for its high accuracy, as it can pick up changes of just 2-3% in segmented audiences.

3 Ways to Use High-Quality Data to Power Your Brand Marketing

1. Nail your brand message

Powerful messaging comes from truly understanding your audience. Knowing who your audience is, what they care about, and what they think of your brand enables you to connect with your audience on an emotional level. If it’s not relevant to them, they will forget it instantly or may even have a more negative view of your brand.

2. Drive next-level email campaigns

Email is one of the most effective marketing channels. It’s free, you own it, and you can easily reach your customers without spending a dollar on ads. But not all of your customers are the same. Understanding how different audiences perceive your brand helps you segment your customers into relevant target groups, and only send out relevant communication and promotions. Relevance is key to keeping your open-rate high and unsubscribe rate low.

3. Run effective social media campaigns

Social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are known for their highly precise targeting. If your target audience is 40-year-old women who adore their cat, you can reach them. However, if you set your ads to show to “everybody who likes cats”, then you will burn through your budget very quickly, without driving any meaningful results.

Social media can be a great way to build brand awareness and loyalty. But if you are not absolutely clear on who your audience is, and how to engage with them in a way that feels relevant and authentic, you will just be wasting your money.

Final Thoughts

Data is vital for brand managers today. But as Coca-Cola found out in the eighties, if your data doesn’t tell you the whole story, then there is a high risk of making poor marketing decisions which can endanger your brand and anger customers.

Clean, reliable data should be the foundation of your brand strategy. This will enable you to target relevant niche audiences, understand your consumers and invest in successful campaigns.

Advanced brand tracking is a key part of data hygiene. While there are plenty of data sources marketers, only a brand tracking system can provide the high level of precision and accuracy needed to make serious decisions around your brand.

Keen to learn more about brand tracking? Check out the Ultimate Brand Tracking Guide.

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