Forget checking your horoscope, getting a tarot reading, or consulting a soothsayer. If you want to know your future, look to your data.
Most people don’t use most of their data, and it’s no mystery why. Every day, we collect so much data that we’re drowning in it.
The data deluge
There’s the old-school data: your car’s odometer and other gauges, what you see in newspapers and magazines and on billboards, and even your bathroom scale (sorry). Then there’s all the data we’ve been collecting over the past few decades. Data from Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter and your website host and email program and so much more.
That data collection is only going to grow. In the past 10 years, we’ve gone from producing and consuming 2 zettabytes of data worldwide to 97 zettabytes. And, yes, I had to look up “zettabytes” too. There are one trillion gigabytes in a zettabyte, and there are 1,073,741,824 bytes in a gigabyte. In other words, if you start reading now, you’ll probably still be reading 10 billion years from now when our sun burns out.
So, what now? Give up and live in oblivion?
Well, no. You can use this data to best serve you.
How to sift
The point of data isn’t to read it all. It’s to sift through it and to read what’s relevant to you, to make sense of the data, and then, ideally, to act upon it. Why do some people (but not others) read The Economist? Or, say, The NonProfit Times, or Public Management Magazine? Because they’re relevant to those people.
If the world is awash in data (and it is), then so are you. Right now, whatever marketing and communications you’re doing provides data. Data about:
- who comes to your website
- how they got there
- what they did while they were there
- what page they came to
- what page they left from
- how they interacted with your email newsletter
- how they engaged with your Facebook…
- and your Twitter…
- and your LinkedIn…
- and your TikTok…
- and so forth…
- and much more.
What you do with all of that data, hanging out there loosely across a virtual universe, is like the joke about the two boys, one a pessimist and one an optimist, who are asked to clean out a barn. They go to the barn, look inside, and see that it’s pretty much filled floor to rafters with horse manure. The one boy breaks down bawling at the task. The other boy excitedly picks up a shovel and starts to work, his eyes lively with delight. “Why are you so excited about this?” the first boy asks. “Look at all this manure!” says the second. “There must be a pony in here somewhere!”
Yes, your data looks confounding at first. You’d rather just shut the barn door. There’s too much, and you can’t make sense of it. But, I promise you, there’s a pony in there. To get to it, you just have to get through all the manure.
Connection = clarity
What you need to do is to make sense of the relevant data. You do that by connecting it with an integrated marketing system.
What an integrated marketing system will do is pull the data together, giving you dashboards that help you make sense of it (as well as tools to act upon it). It’ll also segment the data, so you can get a better sense of individuals and how they are individually using the data.
Just like ancient mariners did, pulling separate stars together into patterns (constellations) that enabled them to navigate by eye. On their own, each of the stars represents a single data point, and clustered together unrecognizably they still would confuse us — but when unified into a system that enables recognition and understanding, they provide immensely valuable information.
Like your own data!
So, how does one pull together the disparate elements of email newsletters, blog posts, website visits, digital advertising, and social media content so that they are actionable?
By using an integrated marketing system. There are many options out there but the one we use, and that we use for clients, is SharpSpring.
How it works
A one-minute overview of SharpSpring
SharpSpring combines a set of powerful sales and marketing tools with your own communications and outreach suite to provide real, actionable data while also streamlining your work. Instead of doing things separately with all of those tools you’re currently using (like Google Ads, emails and email newsletters, blog posts, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) you can do them in conjunction with SharpSpring — and collect and individuate the data.
Let’s say that someone named “Olivia” is coming to your site. Currently, you can’t “see” Olivia in all of the reporting you can access through Google; she’s just an IP address, and you don’t know which one. In fact, you don’t even know that Olivia is coming to your site unless she tells you. She’s also engaging with your Facebook content, but that’s not connected with her profile, such as it is, that’s available through Google.
With SharpSpring, Olivia exists as an individual (just as she does in real life), and your profile depicts her journey through all your marketing efforts, allowing you to see which content Olivia interacts and engages with the most. And because you can make that determination, you’re able to focus on Olivia if you choose to.
To say it again: Now that Olivia exists as an individual in your marketing, you can market to her as an individual. And gauge her response.
SharpSpring bills itself as “The Revenue Growth Platform.” And we do have for-profit clients who are succeeding wonderfully on the platform, offering either B2B services or consumer products.
But does this same system apply to nonprofits?
The solution for nonprofits
It sure does. I say this as someone who has run several nonprofit organizations, who sits on four nonprofit boards, and who works with nonprofit clients. If “revenue” sounds disconnected in some way from nonprofit, think of it as donations. Or grants. If you’re doing fund development, you want more information about your donors, both individually and as a group, and as subgroups.
Prior to integrated digital marketing, when I was in nonprofit management, we’d send out postcards and mailers about events, and donation appeals, and do a lot of phone calling, and also issue grant applications, and so much more… and gain information only if someone responded. With an integrated marketing platform like SharpSpring, even seeming inactivity provides insights: By seeing which content doesn’t get any response or low engagement, you can shift your focus (and time!) to content that does register with people.
The game changer
Do I sound evangelical about SharpSpring? I am — because I know what an impact it’s made for us.
Since putting the system into action, we’ve learned an enormous amount from our data and then shifted some of our own marketing practices. The content we create and broadcast reflects three imperatives:
- Serving our clients (that’s always #1)
- Communicating our brand and expertise
- And doing so in a way that coordinates our marketing message.
Making that shift has been a very big part of our growth in 2021, and paints an even brighter picture for 2022 and for our clients.
How we use the system with clients
If you’re already a Counterintuity client, you know that we have three ways of working with clients:
- We do all the marketing
- We do some of the marketing and the client does the rest
- The client does it all, but reaches out to us when needed
We’ve always taken this flexible approach because we want what’s best for clients, and not every client fits neatly into just one of those buckets.
We take the same approach with SharpSpring. We onboard clients into the system, help train them, and provide further resources if they need them in that setup phase. Within 30-60 days, clients are up and running, and immediately they’re learning a lot about what’s working (or not) with their marketing, and what steps to take to grow revenue. From there, we manage the system for them if they like, or they manage it, or it’s a combination of both. What determines the approach? Whatever best ensures client success.
Because we’re all about client success.
A few years ago, I was mighty proud of the work we were doing with our disparate bag of tricks: this particular email program, that set of social tools, this reporting mechanism, that sales tool, and so on and on. And y’know what? We were doing good work with that. But once we switched over to an integrated marketing platform that pulled it all together, the impact was astounding.
Ready to find out if SharpSpring is right for you? I’m happy to help. Reach out if you have questions.