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Data gaps: Find and fix the missing links in your marketing strategy

Author: Laura Ballam


Data plays an integral role in the success of any digital marketing strategy. Without data, it’s impossible to understand what your customers want or how they interact with your brand online—and that means you can’t create effective campaigns. But when it comes to collecting data, there are some gaps you need to be aware of. Let’s look at three types of data gaps: missing data, latent data, and tag management.

Missing Data: When Pieces Fall Through the Cracks

When we talk about missing data, we mean exactly what it sounds like: information you should have but it isn’t being tracked or isn’t available. Perhaps you have customer surveys that don’t ask for demographic information (which would help you better target future messaging), or maybe your analytics tools lack certain features that would give you deeper insights into user behavior. In either case, there's a gap in the data—one that could be costing you valuable time and money by preventing you from making informed decisions based on reliable metrics.

With typical data capture methods, organizations are expected to see into the future – somehow knowing exactly what data they’ll need. But inevitably, they set up their (often expensive) systems only to find out months later they’re missing key intel. For marketing, customer service, product enhancements, and strategy it’s critical to have access to ALL the data so when opportunities arise you can jump on them immediately.

Tag Management: Optimizing Your System for Maximum Efficiency

Tags are snippets of code embedded into a page which allow marketers to track online user behavior, such as page views, and time spent on page. The theory is that by using tag management marketers can simplify their data capture process while obtaining rich customer insights. Essentially you attach tags to pieces of data so you can later sort, filter, and retrieve that information.

The problem with tag-based data capture is it relies heavily on user input. If users don’t provide accurate or consistent tags, or miss tagging a piece of data, it can lead to duplicate or incomplete data, as well as gaps in your overall data set. As they say, you don’t know what you don’t know, so we often hear marketers complain about losing out on critical insight because “we didn’t tag for it.”

Another limitation of tag-based data capture is the type of insight and analysis you can perform on your data. For example, if you want to analyze trends or patterns over time, you may need more detailed metadata than what tags can provide. And if you want to perform more complex analysis, such as predictive modeling or machine learning, you need to supplement your tag-based data with other types of data, such as demographic or behavioral data. If you rely solely on tags to capture consumer data, you’re missing important details and insight. The best way to fill these gaps in your data is to collect everything – and it’s not realistic to tag everything. What you need is a tagging-free customer data solution.

Buried Data: Unlocking Clues Hidden in Plain Sight

Hidden data is information that exists but isn’t being used or you don’t have access to. This type of data is sometimes hidden within existing systems or processes, and sometimes it requires significant manipulation before it can be extracted and analyzed. Unfortunately, many organizations fail to realize the potential value hidden data possesses; as a result, they miss out on opportunities to gain greater insight into their customers or optimize their operations efficiently. For example, you may collect purchase history from customer loyalty programs, but not the loyalty perks usage info. Or you capture pages visited and time on page but not page interactions. In each case you’re missing valuable data that could provide further context and interesting patterns which could clue you into new customer segments or product opportunities.

Latent data: Tomorrow is too late

Latent, or delayed, data is a huge issue for marketing professionals and data analysts. While many data capture systems collect certain data in real-time, it’s not actually available until hours or even days later. When it comes to live-time activation – such as personalization or fraud prevention – your data is already outdated. What good is presenting a special offer for a product your customer was interested in the day after they purchased it elsewhere? You need to deliver live-time experiences, while the visitor is still on the page, to maximize the consumer experience and fuel conversions. If there’s latency in your data, it’s the same as missing data.

The main takeaway is that when it comes to creating successful digital strategies, great decision-making starts with identifying where your organization has data gaps. Understanding how customers engage with your brand online is the key to targeted, personalized experiences that elevate your brand and ensure growth. Don't let missing information leave you vulnerable to poor choices - empower your team with complete visibility into every aspect of their digital strategy so they can make decisions armed with all the facts!

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