Without Data-Driven Marketing, You’re Shooting in the Dark

Jul 11, 2024
Jul 11, 2024
15 min
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Data-driven marketing

No matter the size of your business, you must leverage your data to improve your advertising. Learn the who, where, what, when, and how of data-driven marketing.

"Without data, you're just another person with an opinion."
- W. Edwards Deming

Unless you’re following and acting on the marketing data you gather, you’re going by your gut.

Adopting a data-driven approach to your marketing—and business overall—is the best advice you can get in 2024. You'll get more accurate insights, faster and better decision-making, and more effective campaigns.

Let’s jump straight into data-driven marketing.

What is meant by data-driven marketing?

Data-driven marketing refers to the practice of using customer data to inform marketing strategy and business decisions.

Gone are the days of using trial and error to understand your audience. Using concrete details to determine your online advertising tactics and strategies is better. Furthermore, with digital marketing analytics providing such rich data, there’s a wealth of insight to apply to your next campaign. 

A hidden treasure of data-driven marketing is that it allows you to predict user behavior more accurately than marketers' approach in the Mad Men era before we had things like the internet and email lists.

So, how is this different from traditional marketing?

Data-driven marketing vs. traditional marketing

Traditional marketing involves a lot of guessing and assuming about audience behavior and what matters to them, often by people who have no idea what it’s like to be the target audience.

Traditional marketing uses focus groups to gather customer information and applies the insights from a small study to the target audience in toto. Unfortunately, with the data we have access to now, this equates to assumption and conjecture.

In comparison, data-driven marketing looks at the cold, hard facts. With the sheer amount of information we have access to nowadays, we can rely on big data to show us how to improve our marketing efforts.

Marketers spend a lot of time in the heads of their target audience, but it’s far too easy to become whimsical by idealizing or applying one's own lens when profiling one's ideal customer. 

Data-driven marketing relies on piecing together the facts about audiences and campaigns bit by bit to create an audience profile based on reality, not assumptions and trial and error. 

Look at it this way. Marketing is the science of setting the stage for a sale. 

Marketers must create the opportunity (campaign) for the right people (target audience) at the right time and place (social media platform) with the right feeling and offer (ad creative) to support conversion.

Creating this opportunity is much easier when robust data supports your marketing decisions.

Let’s paint a better picture with examples of data-driven marketing at work.

  • Personalizing your ad campaigns based on the data you collect improves the chances of a conversion. Learning about their needs, preferences, and behaviors gives you something to talk to them about, hopefully sparking more interest. 76% of consumers prefer to buy from brands with personalized user experiences. 
  • Knowing the time of day your target audience is most likely to interact with your ads can help you determine a publishing schedule for your content and ads, increasing your chances of engagement.
  • Knowing where your audience spends their time online helps you reach them where they are and guide them through your sales funnel.
  • Creating ad campaigns to target users who have abandoned their shopping carts before checking out. They’ve expressed enough interest in your product to get that far. Investing in ad campaigns that speak directly to these people to help them complete the checkout process is a prime example of data-driven marketing. 
  • Analyze your transaction data to understand what customers are buying, the average order value, how many products they generally buy at once, and more. You’ll learn what products sell well and which often sell with others. This enables you to bundle the products and run promotions to appeal and sell to more people.

How effective is data-driven marketing?

Businesses that use data-driven marketing experience between five and eight times as much ROI.

As of June 2023, marketing decision-makers worldwide said these are the areas where data-driven marketing was the most useful:


Businesses that apply data-driven marketing reap many benefits.

Enhanced targeting and audience segmentation

Your customers consist of a cross-section of society with prolific interests and demographics. Sometimes, these data points overlap, but they are pieces in the puzzle that, when solved, form your target audience. With the right data, you can identify and test different audience segments to find the most profitable ones.

By examining your target audience data in detail, you can find more customers with interests, behaviors, or demographics similar to your winning ones.

Ensure you track this information to identify and target new potential customers.

Improved content personalization and UX

90% of leading marketers say personalization is crucial to business profitability. Users have come to expect personalized marketing messages, with 62% of consumers saying they lose loyalty to a brand if they don’t get it.

Therefore, improved customer satisfaction is a by-product of personalized marketing that applies to people at every stage of your sales funnel. 

Furthermore, by understanding and acting on this customer data, you can improve your user experience (UX) and overall customer journey. By testing different content variations, designs, and copy across your touchpoints and then analyzing the results, you can discover what works best for your audience and what brings in the sales. 

Better attribution for spend optimization

With the tracking data you have available to you and connecting your other systems and tools, you can better understand the true impact of your marketing efforts. Improved attribution means you can more accurately connect each sale to the ads they saw along the way. This tells you what worked! No guessing.

With your data connected for the whole customer journey, you have visibility of the points each customer touched. You can tell what works to replicate it or what doesn’t, so you stop wasting ad spend on a poor performer.

Relying on the data to tell you what to do is the best approach for business owners who want to optimize their ad spend.

Streamlined decision-making

Knowing what your audience prefers helps you make decisions quickly. Instead of wondering whether a particular variation will work, you can test and monitor the results. By comparing the performance of different variations, you can see which ones perform better than others. 

This approach can be applied to multiple touchpoints, including ads, email marketing, landing pages, websites, and even offline.

With the newfound visibility of your customer journey and how users interact with your brand online, they show you which touchpoints are pivotal.

Knowing what motivates your customers to the finish line helps you allocate resources appropriately to support that arm of the business, such as your website content, social media designs, and copy across all platforms.

Refined product development

Applying data-driven marketing strategies to product development can mean a faster time to market, improved product quality, reduced risk, and increased innovation.

Analyzing how people use your product lets you learn about their preferences, user behavior, market trends, and other valuable insights.

When you listen to what your customers tell you about your products, you can improve and enhance them to continue delighting your customers and outsmoking the competition. 

For example, using social listening tools, you can gather what people say about your brand even when you’re not tagged online. People don’t always use official channels when discussing their pain points with products or brands. 

Harvesting and analyzing your reviews, inbox conversations, and support messages can tell how people engage with your product. Analyzing your product pages can also help you understand more about their experience.

Understanding what products your customers love helps you recommend similar products and can even inform your next offer. 

The most common data-driven marketing challenges

Let’s face it: working with data can be overwhelming - there sure is a lot of it. Here is a list of the most common challenges we face with data-driven marketing.

Data silos

Before you even look at your data, there are deeper organizational issues to address. It’s likely that the different departments or teams in your business aren’t sharing the data they can access, or there isn’t an easy way for others to access it.

Often, departments are in the habit of keeping their data to themselves, creating silos of untapped customer information. The culprit usually takes the form of an Excel sheet saved on someone’s computer.

Before we get into the tangible challenges, the first hurdle you face will be mental: changing the mindset of the people handling your data—you included. 

You want to instill a data-centric culture of curiosity about your customers and the data you gather about them. Better data is excellent for everyone involved.

It is essential to inform your entire team about the data you are collecting, why it’s so important to keep and maintain it, and how to add to it or access it. 

Collecting data

Many companies need help with data collection. 

They often have it in too many places (Google, Meta, CRMs, spreadsheets), making it challenging to combine all the correct information for meaningful insights. Businesses may also need more efficient methods or complete data sets. 

For example, suppose you only have your web and social media tracking set up and haven’t connected the data you gather from in-person sales or email marketing. In that case, you aren’t seeing the complete picture of your customer’s purchase journey. 

The data collection process is a marathon, not a sprint. 

The first step is to collect and store your data in one place. Plus, it makes it much easier for your teams to access it. Just like that, you break down those silos. 

Having a central real-time marketing dashboard makes the job of monitoring so much easier. Next, you should add each touch point’s data one at a time until your marketing ecosystem's moving parts are connected to your dashboard.

Data compilation

It’s one thing to have all the data in one place. But how is it put together and sorted? Is it understandable? Are all the essential parts there? Incomplete data is another frequent bugbear of companies in their quest for data-driven solutions.

Manually importing, unifying, and updating your data can be tedious. To ensure your data is kept up to date, you should use automation and AI wherever possible. In addition, having a plan of what to do with your data and having someone in-house own and manage it goes a long way to improving how it’s handled.

Extracting the right information

With your data in one place and correct, how do you know which information to focus on? Which metrics offer the most insight into the state of your business? 

Your goals will differ depending on whether you’re an e-commerce store or a local business. If you’re growing your email list or optimizing your product pages, you need to track and analyze the data you’re focusing on.

Identifying your key performance indicators (KPIs) based on your business goals is a great starting point.

Relevant customer data is more important than quantity. So, it’s crucial to gather the right information.

Data compliance

With great power (big data) comes great responsibility (data protection laws).

As marketers, you should remember that you are data stewards and ultimately serve the customer. It means complying with people’s wishes about handling their data and the laws governing their region.

When it comes to data protection, you must factor in the laws pertaining to the market you are targeting. For example, if your customers reside in the EU, you must adhere to the GDPR policy. And if you are advertising to Californians, you must comply with the CCPA.

You should familiarize yourself with the nuances of the data protection laws of the countries you service.

How to make marketing data-driven

Don’t become overwhelmed by all the data. Adopting a data-centric approach is simple, as the formula doesn’t change. The hard part is adhering to the process and not getting distracted by hunches and other old habits.

Follow these steps.

  1. Determine your goals and the data you need

First, determine your goal so you know which data to collect and analyze and which to ignore. Then, calculate your KPIs for each touchpoint. 

  1. Educate and align your team

I mentioned it earlier, but this is important. At this point, you tell everyone working on your marketing campaigns and customer-facing staff that you’re collecting this data, why you need it, and, most importantly, where to find it. An aligned team is an effective team.

  1. Choose the right analytics tools

Determine the software you will use to gather this data and where to store it with easy access for everyone. Once you’ve chosen and set up your tools, ensure they’re connected and working correctly.

  1. Consolidate your data

Now, you should unify your data and build a real-time dashboard. Check that your data sources are connected and get all your data feeding into one place. Use Madgicx’s One-Click Report to combine all your ad channel analytics into a live dashboard. Try it for free.

  1. Use an omnichannel distribution strategy

Build an ecosystem of touchpoints that share and gather information so you can determine what works and what doesn’t in terms of placement and distribution. You’ll discover where your audiences hang out and when they’re likely to engage with you the most.

  1. Segment your audiences

As you learn more about your target audiences, you can segment them to group them more effectively. Doing this helps you understand your target market better and lets you build your customer profiles, enabling you to market to them more effectively.

  1. Personalize the customer journey

Personalization improves the customer experience and increases profits. Now that you’ve segmented your audience, you can speak to them more directly in your marketing messages and ad campaigns.

  1. Test variations

Whether it’s email subject lines, layout variations, landing page designs, or A/B testing ads, the more you test, the more you learn about what works for your audience and business. “You can’t know for sure unless you test it” is part of the fundamental premise of data-driven marketing.

  1. Analyze your data and apply your insights

Once you have tested enough variations, you should analyze your results and act accordingly. "Use the data you gathered to improve your overall offering, including your product, purchase journey, customer experience, content, ads, service, and support.

  1. Use predictive analytics

Leverage predictive analytics to anticipate customer behavior and more accurately predict which marketing messages will resonate with which customers. Learn when to launch campaigns and which platforms to use for best results based on your data.

Data-driven marketing tools you must know

Considering the sheer volume of data you must manage, having the correct data analysis tools is essential. The tools you use also depend on the metrics you are monitoring. 

Here are some of my best picks.

Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics 4 measures traffic and engagement across different platforms, such as your website or app and email campaigns. GA4 tracks events on your website and groups them into engaged sessions. Some metrics you can watch include page views, events or actions taken, the amount of engaged time spent, and the engagement rate of your web pages.

Google Analytics 4 also tracks what it refers to as dimensions, which are the other variables involved in the interaction. These include which browser they’re using, the device category, like mobile, tablet, or desktop, and the region from where they’re accessing your site.

If you have a brand presence online, you need a GA4 account. It’s free.

Google Looker Studio

Google Looker Studio, previously Data Studio, is a freemium tool for setting up a data dashboard. You can connect hundreds of different data sources and customize your dashboard. The tool has preset templates for GA4 data and other standard reporting dashboards. 

The free version has limitations, but it’s a great place to start when consolidating your data. You can’t share with team members, amongst other things, unless you upgrade to full access for $9 per month. 

One-Click Report

Madgicx’s One-Click Report is a simple solution for advertisers to track their advertising across all channels. Connect Meta, TikTok, Shopify, GA4, and Google Ads to see your most important metrics in real time. Choose from a library of templates or build your own using the simple drag-and-drop editor. Share and export your dashboard, making it easily accessible within your team.

You can view your blended metrics across all channels to discover your marketing efficiency and profitability. No more building reports in spreadsheets using incomplete or inaccurate data. It’s plug-and-play. 

Try it out for free to see how it works. After that, it’s $29 monthly for five live dashboard reports.


Salesforce offers Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to help you track and manage your business's customer interactions across all divisions. No matter your industry or business type, Salesforce has a solution for it. 

Using CRM software helps you track and manage valuable customer interactions and details across all arms of your business, from sales and growth to marketing and client service. Connecting this data to your dashboard is vital to the data ecosystem you’re building. 

Pricing starts at $25 per month for the essentials package but can go upwards of $500 for their Lightning Unlimited+ package. 


Tableau is AI-driven data visualization software by Salesforce that helps people see, understand, and act on their data. It can connect multiple data sources and has solutions for each industry, department, and technology. 

Tableau also has a long list of integrations, meaning you can connect and capture your data from just about anywhere. Tableau offers a free trial but is quite pricy, with creator accounts costing $75 per month and viewer accounts $15. Explorer accounts are $42 monthly; each organization requires at least one creator account. 

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Jul 11, 2024
Jul 11, 2024
Vanessa John

As a content and technical writer, my goal is to help business owners and advertisers navigate the digital landscape.

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