Data ‘must be contextualised’

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There is a lot of data ready to be collected from consumers at the moment, with firms investing in analytics technology, skilled workers and CRM systems to ensure they can take advantage of it.

While all of this is important in taking as much information as possible on board and attempting to learn from it, an industry expert has warned that failing to place it into a proper context could leave businesses spending too much on an ultimately pointless function.

Emma Haslam, insights consultant with 4PS Marketing, argued that firms need to consider how data fits within the big picture of their business activities if they are to glean as much from it as possible.

After all, it isn’t only the digital world that has an impact on how consumers behave online, meaning organisations should not simply concentrate their data collection on web-based platforms.

She said: “Of course marketing certainly plays its part in affecting customer behaviour, so do you refer to all your offline activities when looking at your web analytics? Do you have a calendar of your TV adverts, when they were shown, and what they were promoting?”

Keeping track of all these functions either via a standardised database or a CRM system is crucial if companies want to ensure their analytics team has access to as much information as possible.

By examining online and offline data, firms can develop a 3D picture of their market, consumers and competitors, rather than relying on the one-dimensional images created by simply focusing on one source.

“Without a calendar or record of the above scenarios that anyone can easily refer to, you’re leaving your analysts pretty impotent in their ability to give you a complete picture of what impact everything your business is doing is having on your online performance,” added Ms Haslam.

Although she suggested that companies do not need to invest in a whole new infrastructure to reach this level, there is no doubt that CRM software can play a role in improving data analysis.