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5 Types of Data That Should Drive Your Local Digital Marketing Strategy

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Digital marketing is most often based on data-driven decisions. From online behavior (clicks, dwell time, etc.) to complex search algorithms, marketers view almost every online interaction as a piece or source of data. But when we talk about data in the local marketing context, what do we mean?

One standard response is the familiar “it depends” (and it really does). Historically local business data has meant name, address and phone number. But access to better technology has enabled us to learn more about online interactions, and the definition of data and the information relevant to local marketing is now evolving and expanding. So, how do these new types of data influence a digital marketing strategy? And what business opportunity does this data present for local marketers?

Here are five primary forms of data and why they are (or should be) important to local marketers:

1. Content: Business information and website content both constitute data, especially from the perspective of the search engines and the algorithms that run them. Schema.org marked-up content covers a growing body of specific data elements from basic business information such as opening hours, to rich content like an ethics policy. All of this impacts how relevant a given website is to a keyword or search, and will become increasingly important as new technologies, such as voice search and artificial intelligence, look for a proprietary data source to answer search queries.

2. User-generated content: Just as it sounds, this is content that online users generate about a business, often directly on the business’ website, social channels, or listings, etc. For example, blog post comments, user reviews, social posts and more all constitute forms of data that can influence search rank, business credibility and customer decisions.

3. (End) Customer data: This is back-end transactional data that includes personal information (i.e., shipping address, email, phone, etc.), as well as interaction data (e.g., purchases, downloads, sign-ups, etc.). The real power of these data points is connecting them to better understand the customer journey (i.e. tracking email clicks to purchases) and creating a more personalized experience for each and every individual.

4. Site analytics: As most people already understand, this is data showing where website visitors come from, how they got to the site, what they do there and where/when they leave it. Local marketers rely on this data to understand whether a website is generating or influencing desired outcomes and behaviors, and understanding site analytics is an important exercise in identifying a customer purchase path and effective lead generation.

5. Behavioral and cohort analytics: Local marketers who work with hundreds or thousands of small businesses have the unique opportunity to analyze customer data and behaviors, and make informed strategic decisions and product or service improvements. This collective use of data analytics is valuable for competitive differentiation, retention and other strategic areas for local marketers.

With these and other sources of data, the challenge becomes understanding what the data means on their own and in relation to other sources, in the aggregate. What is all the data telling us, and how can it be used to your competitive advantage?

While the extent to which the data will be used to develop conclusions, strategies and tactics may vary, depending on if the company is a digital service provider, an agency or small business owner, the endgame should be the same: an improved customer experience leading to more sales and transactions (online or offline). From improving engagement tools and services for SMBs, to delivering greater efficiency for agencies and enterprises, improved customer experiences are very often the result of innovative digital marketing.

However, collecting and analyzing data is a challenge for many local marketers. Data is innately complex, and many local marketers are left struggling to make sense of it. Thus, finding the right technology, tools and partners is essential to the successful use of data in local digital marketing strategies. And while digital marketing is already very data-driven, the use of aggregated data is still new to many local marketers, and it is up to technology providers to guide local marketers on the best practices of using big data to improve customer experience.

With the right technology and guidance, local marketers can be empowered to not only swiftly collect data, but also analyze multiple data categories, drive insights and develop subsequent marketing and customer strategies. Presented in the right format, aggregated data can be creatively used in marketing, and will empower local marketers to not only make concrete and actionable marketing plans, but also deliver an innovative and sophisticated local digital marketing strategy.

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