Marketers’ New Role As Data Scientists
Sarah Doctor, Prager Metis
The Importance of Why
When I first started my career in accounting marketing, I envisioned a life spent planning client-facing events, writing compelling content, and designing eye-catching creative ads. These were the cornerstones of the skillset a successful marketer should possess, right? But, as I began to develop my understanding of the industry and identify the goals of my partners, I realized I needed to understand a critical framework that was missing, and the most important piece of the puzzle – the “why”.
As marketers, it is imperative that we always understand the “why”. The “why” has two equally important components – why we do what we do, and why we do things the way we do them. In the accounting profession, some of the most tried and true “why we do what we do” answers include introducing or expanding a niche, growing regionally, or creating credibility through thought leadership for our partners. We’ve all heard these phrases from our partner group, right? They are focused on the end results and trust us as marketers to get them there. So, how do we get there? The way we achieve these goals – what I like to call the “why of how” - can so often be found in the data, if you know where to look.
The Explosion of Data
There are arguably hundreds of data points available for analysis. While each piece of data marketers have at their fingertips could be explored by their own articles, it’s important to highlight the foundations of our data and understand the storytelling power that they hold.
Website traffic is one of the most effective ways to measure your potential audience’s interest in your story and your services. What drives people to your website initially? Do you get more inbound hits from backlinks in external articles, your own original content, or that funny picture of your team at the firm’s summer outing? It can be surprising to see what brings visitors to your website and, more importantly, where they go once they’re there. More robust reports can segment these visitors further based on factors such as geography, industry, and role within the company. Learning who is visiting your website and how they got there in the first place can have a profound impact on your continued outreach.
CRM analysis uses data including pipeline information and client/prospect profiles to identify important trends within the firm. These can include high-growth niches or geographies, sources of business, client lifecycles, and potential untapped referral relationships. Pulling reports straight from a CRM system takes the guess work and wishful thinking out of the equation when identifying high-performing segments (and partners) within your firm. This will allow you to focus your marketing efforts on those areas, or identify additional areas that may need a little more TLC from you and your team.
Predictive behavior modeling can be used to help predict future behavior of customers. It applies statistical and mathematical techniques to the analysis of past behavior in order to predict potential future results. Two of the biggest advantages to utilizing predictive behavior modeling in accounting marketing is identifying cross-selling opportunities within your existing client base and proactively communicating with clients predicted to switch firms.
Industry trends are key in understanding your clients’ and prospects’ pain points. This data is not something you’ll have housed in all of your different systems like practice management, marketing automation and CRM. Rather, this analysis is something you’ll get by doing good old- fashioned research. Just because we have access to so much internal data doesn’t mean that we can forget about the external information.
At the end of the day, there are millions of ways to gather, analyze, and interpret client and industry data. To be impactful, it’s important to identify the handful of metrics that make the most sense for your firm. Be proactive in your planning, share your findings with your partners, and don’t be afraid to come up with big ideas based on the information you’ve found – after all, accountants understand hard facts and figures better than almost anyone.