By Rebecca Hicks, Head of Marketing, ITRS Group

When ITRS Insights was launched last year, I was keen to try it out for myself, even though I have no previous experience in this area. Not only because I believe that to market something well you need to experience for yourself what your end users experience, but also because it sounded like a solution to a very frustrating issue we have of data in silos and lack of true insight and proof points.

My first step was to find some data that I wanted to analyse. What better than data on our email campaigns that we had executed over the past year. It was an amazing feeling to run my first successful query and produce analytics on our email campaigns. From our very own data, I could clearly see that the best day of the week, by far, to send out our email campaigns was a Tuesday, and the worst day was Fridays. And that our most successful email sent, when looking at conversions of people who opened the email and clicked on the link within it, was a product release email for a major release. I continued to ask questions of this (small) data set myself as I thought of them.

This was already pretty valuable insight but now I wanted to add more data, from different sources, so that I could look for trends and patterns across our different marketing activities. I suspected most of them were interlinked, so I wanted to understand how they were and look for commonalities. After exporting my data from our various tools, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Analytics, Pardot and so on, I created new data streams from these CSVs.

Now that I have all of my different data sets in Insights I can ask questions of that data in an intuitive way. For example, I can compare web traffic against our blog timeline (i.e. what blogs are posted and when) against our Twitter engagement and LinkedIn engagement to work out our most valuable and popular content, while looking for patterns as to when people are more likely to engage with the content. Sometimes this is about proving my assumptions, and sometimes this is about exploring my data to discover something new that we can then action. And sometimes you’ll run a really cool query technically, which is exciting as part of your Insights learning curve, but doesn’t tell you anything interesting from your data. And of course, vice versa. Sometimes the simplest queries can provide the most interesting insight.

What I love about using Insights is that I don’t have to be a data scientist or developer to use it, as our clever engineering team have done all of the hard work behind the scenes so that all I have to do, as a user, is type a couple of simple lines of query language to access some very complex computations and algorithms. It’s so empowering to be able to ask my own questions of my data in an organic way, without having to go back and forth with a dedicated analyst or resource (which we don’t have).

Previously it’s been very frustrating to have all of this data in silos, when you know if you could compare it all together you would have a much better informed view. What’s more, I have created various dashboards to share this information with the Senior Management team and as part of our Go-To-Market forums so that I can show them the data to support my requests for resource or to show the value of our marketing activities. By using Insights, I have also discovered issues that we would have been unaware of previously. For example, on one of our websites, we found there was a huge drop off in newsletter sign ups, even though we still had good web traffic, after we had updated the design as the sign-up box was too difficult to see on the page.

Next steps will be to set up my live data feeds so I can not only analyse my streaming data as it happens, but also compare the live analysis against the historical data to spot anomalies (maybe there’s a bug in one of our content download processes) or to spot trends in the data so we can trigger campaigns that are relevant to end users at the time they need that information.

It’s amazing just how much useful data we have accessible to us and the opportunities that it can bring. I’m working with a small data set right now, but this will become increasingly valuable as that data set builds up and I can spot trends and patterns over the larger data set, and over time. Insights is very much a key tool in our marketing team now as we use the insights discovered to drive our marketing strategy and feed into our everyday operations. It’s still early days as I continue to learn what Insights is really capable of and start to think in new ways as to what value that it can bring to my role and my team. This is all part of a long-term strategy as we look to align all of our marketing operations and introduce a level of automation to help us deliver more.

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