What Has Data Mining Done For You Lately?

As 2011 kicked off, there were already several digital marketing blogs citing what the new trends for the year ahead would be. Present on all of those lists was data mining. Those of us who collect data and use data mining know just how important it is for business intelligence and growth. Data mining is not new; however, data mining as we know it will be in for a major evolution. It will be especially vital to marketing, where online channels like affiliates, social media, mobile, as well as traditional offline marketing channels like TV, radio and print, will need to be integrated to measure performance and provide intelligent analysis.

If you are running an online business, you know that data mining provides you with information about your consumer behavior. It also provides in-depth analysis on the performance of your acquisition channels. These are all integral measures for building and running a successful business.

However, from my experience, I’ve observed that marketing managers are not set up with tools to help gather intelligent data, and tend to use multiple reports or systems to analyze results for the different channels thereby leading to key details being missed or incorrectly interpreted. Before we move on to more dynamic forms and methods of integrating data (online and offline) to grow revenue, it is worth exploring the notion of working smarter, not harder. Here’s how:

The dream team

Who analyzes data in your organization? Is it the CEO, marketing manager, marketing analyst, SEM specialists? Time and again, I’ve observed businesses leaving one member of the marketing team, be it an affiliate manager, a marketing analyst, or SEM manager in charge of pulling and evaluating reports, and when the numbers start to decline, chaos strikes.

My suggestion? Create a “dream team”! Get your affiliate manager, SEM expert, marketing analyst, and one or two executives involved in data analysis together. What’s the benefit of having a dream team? Well,we all know that popular idiom: Two heads are better than one! Not only do you have key people from your organization sharing a unified vision for your growth, but you also have multiple perspectives to help collect the most pertinent data and use it for optimal performance.

Leave no data behind

When it comes to reviewing and analyzing data, results, trends and the like, I’m a great fan of looking at every single piece of information, before deciding what’s not worth collecting. Why? Well, it’s easier to cut information you don’t need once you’ve assessed every ounce of your data. If your team doesn’t see all the fruits from your current marketing mix (be it online or offline), how will they ever know if it has any relevance?

Is your tracking software or data mining warehouse pulling information as precise as country, state, city, day an action was triggered, and what tools were used to generate the action? Look at every single column in your report. If you’re missing key information you think would be helpful in assessing performance and trends, then think about developing and adding those details to your data mining model.

Build a better model

Perhaps as CEO your primary concern is the average sales and revenues being generated on a day-to-day basis? Perhaps as a marketing analyst, you want to know which of the products you featured in a newsletter communication are pulling in the highest banner clicks or basket prices. And maybe as an affiliate manager, you are evaluating which of your affiliates have increased their referred sales in the last six months. In each of these cases, the dream team needs to work with members of an IT department to either build a new data mining model or customize existing ones based on everyone’s needs.

Your dream team should put their heads together and draw up a list of all the necessary sequences of information and metrics that they need in order to help tailor a better model. How do you know what information is vital? Well that all depends on the needs of your dream team.

Seek advice from your marketers, managers and senior managers, and ask them about what solutions can be integrated to provide you with intelligent data to meet your business needs. Don’t assume that if a key column of information is not there then it’s not possible for something to be built. It is! If your software provider or developer isn’t informed about what you need in a report, then your team will continue to analyze based on limited data. This is a roadblock to optimal mining of performance data, and moreover, the growth of your business.

Respect the law

Finally, businesses based in the United States should tread cautiously; data mining (like email marketing and other areas of affiliate marketing) has been under scrutiny by the US government since its Federal Agency Data Mining Reporting Act of 2007 was proposed. The FTC aims protect internet users so that their privacy is not violated by businesses that track data online. This is obviously challenging if detailed information about consumer activity and behavior is to be collected for the purpose of creating a more strategic marketing campaign. As a business owner, you should be consulting with a lawyer with expertise in this area and have your dream team gather as much information about the latest government restrictions and developments. Once you become aware of what the policies are of the FTC, it will be easier to determine how to aggregate data without violating the rights of consumers, which could prevent a lawsuit down the road.

Get started

If you are an online retailer or a marketing manager, then it might be high time to pay attention to what your current data mining model is doing for you now, as well as what resources you have to help you. When observers say data mining is up for a makeover this year, they’re absolutely right about this trend.

About Nicky Senyard

Nicky Senyard is the co-founder and president of Share Results, a Canada-based online marketing company specializing in affiliate marketing. A native of Australia, and an entrepreneur with a background in public relations, Nicky is a highly sought after speaker and service provider in the affiliate marketing industry.

8 Responses to What Has Data Mining Done For You Lately?

  1. Sophie says:

    Data available in real-time, directly accessible to marketers, presented in user-friendly formats and KPI’s easy to understand are key for web-marketers. At Agendize, all our online applications, like call, chat, scheduling, comment & rating, are delivered with online Analytics, inspired from Google Analytics. We see a major increase of the use of Analytics by our clients. Web-marketing increases its influence and tends to catch up Product experts’ key roles in new tech businesses.

  2. Pat Grady says:

    “I’ve observed that marketing managers are not set up with tools to help gather intelligent data, and tend to use multiple reports or systems to analyze results for the different channels thereby leading to key details being missed or incorrectly interpreted.”
    Most people I’ve interacted with have a misplaced respect and trust for data, they tend to gloss over the underlying mechanisms that are driving the data. They often want to believe there’s a magic tool out there that can make “intelligent” sense of the data… nothing could be further from the truth. I look at data differently, it’s a driver of action, but not a determiner of which action. Those looking for “intelligent” data will continue their habit of chasing something they don’t understand, achieving haphazard results. Data isn’t intelligent, people are. People who believe data is intelligent (or can be), aren’t.

  3. nickysenyard says:

    @Pat Well said, and I especially agree with your statement about misplaced trust. It’s been my experience that businesses think their current data is the be all and end all reflection of their audience. There’s no evaluation of how their data aggregation platform is set up and how it can be improved.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Generally, data mining (sometimes called data or knowledge discovery) is the process of analyzing data from different perspectives and summarizing it into useful information – information that can be used to increase revenue, cuts costs, or both. Data mining software is one of a number of analytical tools for analyzing data. It allows users to analyze data from many different dimensions or angles, categorize it, and summarize the relationships identified. Technically, data mining is the process of finding correlations or patterns among dozens of fields in large relational databases.
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