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5 Ways Data Can Enhance Marketing Campaigns Measurement is paramount to ensuring successful communications campaigns. Here's what the numbers can do for you.

By Beki Winchel

This story originally appeared on PR Daily

Data are becoming essential for marketing and PR pros.

A study by Forbes Insights and Turn revealed that more than 70 percent of marketing executives expect to rely more and more on data for decision-making within the next three years.

They're not the only communications pros under pressure to use more measurement in PR and marketing efforts, and technology companies are responding to data overload with apps to help marketers make sense of the numbers.

Here are five ways data can enhance your brand's marketing strategies:

1. Boost social media efforts.

With all the social media platforms available today, it's nearly impossible for a brand to be present everywhere. Even brand managers who embrace social media can find their efforts are met with lackluster response or, worse yet, can find themselves in a crisis from an online misstep caused by spreading oneself too thin.

Gathering and analyzing data can not only help marketers know which social media sites their audiences use, but also show them which messages work the best. Just as open and click-through rates can help marketing pros figure out which email campaigns are winners, analytics can greatly you help home in on a social media campaign that audiences will embrace.

2. Create better content.

Today's marketers know content is king, but using data before, during and after a campaign can help them decide what types of content their audiences want.

Forbes Insights and Turn reported more than 30 percent of marketing executives use analytics to alter, extend or repeat a marketing campaign, and 61 percent have noticed an increase in ROI from data-driven campaigns.

Brand managers can experiment with a mix of content such as infographics, videos and articles, then gather data to evaluate and optimize their strategies. Use social media and website analytics to measure which pieces of content get clicked on or shared the most, along with Google Analytics, to see what types of content drove the most visits to and signups on your company's website.

3. Embrace new trends.

More and more people are using mobile devices to access their email and social media feeds as well as news and company websites. Google recently changed its algorithm, giving preference to websites that are optimized for mobile.

Video is another big trend, with billions watching hours of videos on Facebook and YouTube each and every day, and many marketing and PR pros are turning to messaging apps such as Snapchat or Kik in order to reach younger consumers.

Data can help you recognize whether a particular trend aligns with your organization's objectives. If you're going to invest time and effort into building a social media presence or creating a different type of campaign, get some directions from reliable numbers instead of just guessing.

4. Target online audiences more effectively.

More than 40 percent of marketing executives give data-driven campaigns the credit for attracting new customers and increasing customer satisfaction. Forbes Insights and Turn also reported nearly 50 percent have created competitive advantages in customer loyalty through data.

With so many online messages competing for a person's attention, and with social media platforms sprouting almost daily, it's even more important for marketers to reach those people who might use their company's products or services.

Many social networks, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, offer audience targeting for advertising clients, but marketers must first know whom they're pursuing. Email marketing campaigns as well as website ads can also benefit from knowing the specific groups of people interested in your brand's offerings.

With data, if at first you don't succeed, you can try again. The study reported almost 40 percent of marketing executives use analytics to modify their targeting strategies.

5. Prove your worth with reports.

Your efforts as a marketing or PR pro can be seen as worthless without the right results, and reporting to company executives on your campaign's success is integral for getting the green light for future marketing efforts.

Use the data you collect to help adjust your messages and content throughout a marketing campaign, but also use those analytics to give snapshots to your leaders. Measurement can help you know what's working and what's not, as well as helping you show higher-ups the good things you're doing—and the areas for additional opportunities and funding.

Beki Winchel is a contributor for PR Daily

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