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One of the things I have to help coaching clients with as they build their businesses is how to use data for marketing.

More specifically, I teach them how to run experiments and then use the results to create better marketing materials and sales funnels. After all, the clearer you can get on your marketing the less money you’ll spend on it. Additionally, you’ll be able to increase sales because you’ve used data to give people what they want.

What is data?

I was recently on a panel for arts organizations in the Miami area where we were discussing data topics like Facebook ads, Google Analytics and email marketing.

One of the points I made was that data didn’t necessarily have to refer to numbers. Numbers are helpful and they have their place. For example, when you’re split testing Facebook ads and you’re trying to see which demographic is the most effective for the least amount of money.

However, there are other data points you can use as well. Who is commenting on your social media posts and what are they saying? What language is your market using? How are they feeling? What are kinds of questions are you getting via email? These points may not be as numerical, but they are just as important.

Here are just a few of the ways you can use data for marketing plans that work.

Conduct informational interviews.

One of the best ways to gather data for marketing is to conduct informational interviews with people in your target market. This is actually what I did in 2013 shortly after quitting my job to go into business for myself full-time and it forever changed the trajectory of my business.

It was during this time that I found out what my market really wanted. Not just that, but I got an in-depth view into how they were feeling. This helped me create better offerings, better social media posts, better blog posts and more effective sales copy.

Pay attention to the language your market is using.

Here’s a pro tip on how to use data for marketing. Pay attention to what language your market is using and then use that same language in your copy.

For example, I once had someone tell me that the reason they wanted to quit their job to start their own business was because they felt as if their talent was being wasted.

The key phrase here is “talent being wasted.” Those are some strong words that evoke emotion and the sentiment is common among creative, so I used that exact phrase in an Instagram post promoting a free webinar. That Instagram post was one of my most highly engaged for the month and I was able to fill up my webinar to maximum capacity.

Run A/B tests to see what performs better.

A/B testing (also known as split testing) is when you test two versions of the same thing. For example, you can test the same ad but to multiple audiences with different variables. Or, you can test two different opt-ins to the same audience. You can even go as far as testing the same stuff but with different colors.

What you test depends on what you’re trying to find out. For example, I’m currently trying to find the perfect audience for my Facebook ads. This means I’m testing the same ad with six different demographics. Once I’m done running the test, I’ll use the information to continue refining my audience.

Later on, once I’ve got a better feel for the audience, I’ll also end up testing different images for ads to see which one resonates better with the audience.  I’ll once again use that data to write better ads that convert more for less money.

The thing to keep in mind about A/B testing is that it takes time and possibly money to get the results you’re looking for. However, if you spend the time trying to find the information, you can then use that information to create better marketing strategies and increase revenue.

It may seem like a waste of resources at first, but if you don’t get this information you’ll end up wasting more resources over the long term. If I don’t run a test to see which demographic costs me the least amount of money to convert, then I’ll end up wasting more money trying to convert people who don’t care down the road.

Figure out a customer map.

Once you’ve been gathering different kinds of data for a while, then you’ll begin finding patterns in your customer behavior.

Now, you can literally look at this by using some email marketing systems. Many of these systems will allow you to see what people are opening, what they are clicking on and when they are buying from you.

The key is to use data for marketing in a way where you begin to know your audience’s next moves. As such, you’re able to give them what they need and increase revenue in the process.

You can also figure this out after having enough conversations with your market. For example, I know that after my audience learns how to write a good pitch that their next logical question will be “How do I get paid to write?”

I use this information to create marketing strategies that address these concerns. I might have a free worksheet that teaches them how to write the pitch and then on the thank you page have an upsell to a product that teaches them how to negotiate with editors.

Make Better Marketing Decisions

The only reason I’m able to do any of this is because I’m going based off of data. That’s it. All I’m doing is using information I’ve gathered to make better marketing decisions. The more data I gather, the better my marketing and sales become.

So if you’re not using data for marketing in your business yet, I encourage you to get started. What’s one thing you need to test or research? Dedicate this week to getting started.

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Amanda Abella is a full-time writer who specializes in online business and finance. She's also an online business coach and the Amazon best-selling author of Make Money Your Honey.

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