Our world is becoming increasingly data driven. Organizations have always relied on data to drive operational decision-making and forecasting. From business financial data to demographic data, to sales and competitive market information, organizations rely on accurate and timely information to navigate their path to success.

So many data points are available to business managers today that it is important to determine which ones should be closely tracked.

Spreadsheets, database software and data analytics tools become more timely, specific and accurate every year. Operating software builds in tools for tracking and analyzing inventory, vendor lead times and shipments and sales data. You can receive real-time information on a dashboard that tracks your key success metrics.

And like everything else, the pandemic has increased the importance of good data analytics and integration of customer systems. The tangible metrics listed above are not the only measurements you can use to track your businesses success. Advertising and marketing has come a long way in answering the questions about “what part of my marketing is having an impact on my organization’s success.”

Do you understand the journey your customers followed before they made the decision to buy from you? What about all of your customers’ repeat interactions with your organization? Customer acquisition is key to growing your business. Understanding your customer’s profile will help you develop a successful marketing plan.

You can use online data to connect your in-person and online customer interactions with your marketing plan and then connect that to the results you are measuring for your business.

Financial institutions like credit card companies track and aggregate sales data. Internet companies track online browser behavior and cell phone companies and apps track a device’s location (when that feature is enabled on the phone).

The data that is collected around our interactions with technology is tracked and stored by large internet companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon. They tend to keep specific, individual information proprietary. Those organizations do use the data within their own advertising platforms to market to their own audience. Data that is used in targeted digital marketing campaigns across multiple platforms tends to be aggregated, anonymous data provided by third party data companies.

To connect the dots from your business to your customers, your organization can target profiles of users through online media. For example, if you are putting on a fishing and hunting show, you can target people who have browsed fishing and hunting websites who are in specific cities. Or if you believe your target demographic is men 18-64 years old in Wenatchee, you can select that target. You can also select specific geographic targets to connect your advertising with people who have visited sporting goods stores in the past 30 days.

The online advertising is designed to influence an audience that already may have an interest in what you are offering. Over a period of weeks or days, the campaign will reach these targets with information relevant to them which directs them to you. In the case of the fishing and hunting show, the marketing can be tracked right to the point the customer clicks on your page to purchase tickets or actually shows up at the event.

Understanding your target customer and how they interact with you will set a solid foundation for marketing to more potential customers like them.

Sean Flaherty is the publisher of The Wenatchee World and the Wenatchee Valley Business World. He can be reached at flaherty@wenatcheeworld.com.

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