Insight — a tool for strategic decision-making
For the past several months, the transition to Google Analytics 4 (GA4), the loss of third-party cookies and even content management has everyone talking about data in a (highly) technical way. The digital marketing industry, which is currently undergoing a transformation, is searching for robust new data ecosystems to continue its online activations.
Since it’s not possible to make business decisions without good-quality data, the selection of strategies fit for deployment remains key. The goal of this article is therefore not to retread the technological issues related to data in 2023, but instead to get back to basics: business decision-making.
But how do you get from the GA4 interface to smart, actionable business decisions?
This is the issue that many organizations need to face. Between technology and decisions lies a transitional phase, which is insight. People who know me also know I can talk about this for hours. So I’ll admit that I am delighted to lead you into the universe of insight with this article, in the hopes of convincing you to leave your data ecosystem and put your information to concrete use as part of your strategic approach.
The savage beast known as insight
Insight isn’t a myth. It’s also not an opinion that you share with coworkers. It is above all an observation about a target that is relevant, factual and context-dependent, to be exploited or activated in order to make an informed decision.There are three main elements to keep in mind regarding insight:
Data: The starting pointAs I said in my introduction, there is basically no such thing as a good business decision without quality data. Data quality can be considered from a few angles. Of course, there is the technological aspect. The more robust and complete your ecosystem is, the more likely it is that your data can provide you with high-quality information. But there’s also the consideration of relevance.
The second ingredient in insight is context. Making observations from a data set is fairly simple: 250 products sold, a campaign that generated 12,000 visits, etc.
But when exactly does an observation become an insight?
When it is put into context. Contextualizing data means positioning it in a relationship with other elements in its environment.
Do those 250 products sold represent an increase or a decrease in your usual performance? Are additional sales really attributable to your marketing campaign? Is your industry as a whole experiencing growth, or have you been able to differentiate yourself from your competitors?
A single data point can raise a number of related, deeper questions. Only by rigorously studying the issue can you begin to formulate insight.
Action: Where insight becomes a decision
Once contextualized, your observation doesn’t necessarily become an insight. The last ingredient to consider is action. Can a strategic decision be made based on your observation? Can a marketing initiative be established based on this learning? If the answer is yes, then you’ve arrived at a true insight.
Oddly, the possibility of translating information into action is the ingredient most often neglected. We often put together exhaustive reports and complex dashboards, but forget the importance of answering the basic question “And then what?” This is the wellspring of the art of insight, which requires selecting the observations that are most likely to make a difference in a strategic sense.
From insight to strategic decision
Given that it must fundamentally be something actionable, insight naturally supports strategic decision-making. The only step left after that is deciding whether you will act on it or not. Unfortunately, this is all too often the moment when organizational priorities will come into play and influence decision-making. Which is why it’s important not to neglect the relevance of your insight. If your teams have directed their analyses towards an issue that is aligned with your business priorities and current context, you shouldn’t have any problems demonstrating the value and potential of your insight.
So how can you ensure that the data analyses created by your teams are consistent with your company’s business priorities? This question can be answered with the help of the four strategies provided by an Ansoff matrix. This tool shows the main choices that may be faced by growing companies.
Using insight to strengthen your current market position
The first position of the matrix represents the desire to generate growth by maximizing your position in your current market using your current market offer. There are several possible strategies for achieving this goal, including customer loyalty. Before searching to implement something new, maximizing the potential of your current customers can be a very effective and profitable strategy. Plus, in terms of data collection, it’s a low-cost approach, because there are many important insights that could be identified using data you already have on hand.
What is the profile of your most loyal customers? On average, what is the frequency of their purchases/interactions with you? Which ones have only made a single purchase, but are more likely to repeat the experience?
Here, you need data analysis to understand who your customers really are and, by extension, what activations would be the most logical, coherent and relevant for your company to effect.
From a technical point of view, establishing a 360-degree customer perspective (or CI360, for Customer Intelligence 360) lets you attain a detailed, strategic understanding of your clientele. In addition to unifying customer data, CI360 provides an opportunity to strategically segment your customer base and thereby extract insights likely to feed into the company’s relational strategies.
If you would like to better understand how data can organize this type of thinking, I heartily recommend reading this article by Moulaye Traore, our Vice-President of Data and Customer Experience.
Insight for developing a new market
Do you feel like you have reached a certain saturation level in your current market? Then positioning your offer in a new market could be a better strategic orientation for you.
In this vein, your offer doesn’t change, you simply decide to make it available to a new clientele. Note that when I say “new market,” this could refer to a geographic area you haven’t yet entered or a new customer segment in a region in which you already have a presence.
In this case, the goal of your data analyses is to find business opportunities.
Are your visitors/purchasers increasingly coming from particular regions? Who would your competitors be in this new market? What customer segments in particular are your competitors aiming at?
Here, you’re trying to extract avenues of opportunity from your current data and compare them with secondary data. It’s not enough to identify your next target market—you also have to decide on a value proposition that will satisfy it.
Determining which customers should be targeted in a new market can be a difficult task.
Recently, I helped an organization dealing with exactly this issue. This company wanted to define the profile of motorcycle owners in Canada in greater detail so they could better position their products for these people. We therefore worked with secondary/external data (such as from Comscore) to determine the characteristics of this specific segment of the overall population. The insights we arrived at from our analyses helped the company organize its media investments more efficiently and better position its products for this targeted clientele. At Adviso, this is what we call the Segment Prospector.
Insight for developing new offers
And now we come to innovation, a topic that’s in a world of its own!
For organizations, understanding how they can reinvent themselves and offer new experiences may actually be essential to their long-term survival. In this strategic vein, you are trying to reinvigorate your offering in a market in which you are already positioned. But getting started with research and development is no easy task.
Where should you start? Should you innovate to improve one of your existing products (incremental innovation) or instead create an entirely new product (radical innovation)?
The needs of consumers can be a good strategic starting point. If what you offer is consumed online, the behavioural data you collect during your customers’ visits are a true gold mine of information. Thanks to this data, you can discover the unexpected ways your products and services are used by your customers. For example, it could help to determine functionalities that should be developed in order to design a proposition that is related to what you currently offer.
Whether your consumption takes place online or not, voice-of-customer-type analyses are always very revealing. Because the data they collect come directly from customers, these analyses provide their expectations, needs and preferences in clear terms, as well as information that will definitely be of help when prioritizing your projects.
Knowing how to listen to and understand your customers is the best way to undertake a proactive innovation process. To accomplish this, your company culture needs to put a high value on this type of information so that it can truly influence your decisions. If this is of interest to you, my colleague Véronique Valois-Boucher, Business Strategy Consultant, discusses the idea of customer feedback and tools for strategic intelligence in greater depth in one of her articles.
Diversification through insight
The last strategic orientation is diversification, the business decision with the greatest amount of risk. This fourth strategy involves designing a new offering and positioning it in a new market.
While there are several different ways to diversify (link available in French only), what they all have in common is the necessity of evaluating the synergy between the company’s various offerings. This is far from easy, because thinking about this issue often happens by degrees, slowly and progressively, through a series of different strategic insights. Data analyses focused on studying the synergy between your offers will attempt to answer all kinds of questions, depending on each organization’s particular business reality.
What economies of scale could be attained if your company merged with one of your suppliers? What products complement the consumption of your current products? What services (whether upstream or downstream) contribute to making your offering more accessible to consumers?
These are just a few of the thorny issues that show that marketing insight on its own isn’t enough when it comes time to make relevant, well-considered business decisions.
One more thought before you go
In closing, I would like to make one fundamental clarification about insights: You won’t only find them in marketing.
Each of your business departments produces interesting observations with a lot of strategic value. Combining this variety of information is what will often lead you to discovering big ideas, innovations and success.
What an irresistible topic for discussion!
I did warn you—I can talk about insight for hours (and hours), and particularly about what connects it to strategic decision-making. Data is what lies at the heart of a lot of investments made in marketing, and this is why it should also occupy a central place in your decisions. It should never be thought of as a magnet for spending, but rather as a factor leading to growth.
With this in mind, be sure to use it wisely when the time comes to start thinking about your next business opportunity and, above all, when making informed decisions. If you need a hand in this area, don’t hesitate to contact our specialists, who would be happy to make recommendations and provide assistance.