In the world of marketing, data and artificial intelligence are turning things upside down very quickly. Companies that want to keep up with the success of their competitors can’t just settle for guesswork and creativity to excel.

Marketing combines many different skills and disciplines, including psychology, storytelling, design, and now, data. Marketers use data to understand what is and isn’t working in their marketing approach. However, you can also use data to actively shape your marketing strategies.

Data is Logical, Humans Are Not

One of the best reasons to use data in shaping your marketing endeavors is its objectivity. Data is logical, even when people aren’t. It can tell you which pieces of content or advertisements are performing well, even if it can’t tell you exactly why.

That objective information is critical for a marketer. It’s so easy to get caught up in the content and campaigns you like best, rather than focusing on what your audience will respond to the best. Objective data will help protect you from your blind spots.

It is important to recognize that although data itself can’t be biased, there are ways to look at data from a biased perspective. You see this in research studies all the time — humans can set up data collection and analysis based on their own biases, which can lead to flawed conclusions. It’s also a major problem in artificial intelligence and machine learning, as the machines learn based on the instructions their creators give them.

Raw data is important. Using it properly is the biggest challenge marketers face, however.

Data for Planning and Strategizing

Data-driven marketing has many benefits. But its biggest benefit is being able to precisely target your marketing efforts to reach your ideal customers at the ideal time. By using your own data and market data, you can find out where your customers spend their time online, what time of day they buy, and how much they spend when they’re referred from your content and advertising.

All of this information can be used to plan your marketing strategy in both the short-term and the long term. It will also help you make adjustments as needed. Even with data-driven projections, not all your campaigns will perform as expected. However, data can then help you make adjustments to improve your approach next time.

The end result of data-driven marketing is that your organization is much more likely to stay competitive and capture a larger market share than you would without using data. It doesn’t mean you can’t be creative, but it does mean that relying on gut feelings and instincts should largely be a thing of the past.

Using Data to Allocate Your Budget

Return on investment (ROI) is one of the biggest overall concerns for marketers. Staying within a budget for the marketing department is important for any organization. Your organization’s financial controller will also need to see that your marketing department is generating strong ROI or they will begin to question your efforts.

Data can help you allocate your budget more effectively and maximize your ROI. If you operate on several social media platforms, for instance, you can put more of your marketing dollars toward the platforms that perform best. You can also use data to help you refine your budget over time.

Predicting Future Trends

Marketing is always changing and it’s important for marketers to stay on top of the latest trends so they don’t fall behind. Even better? Predicting trends and preparing for them — or being a trailblazer yourself.

Data can help you “read the future” so to speak. In other industries, like the financial market, data is used to make predictions about where the economy is headed, and other relevant information for the industry. Although marketing isn’t as clear-cut as some industries, data can still be helpful for making educated guesses about future trends.

Hiring a Data Specialist

Marketing departments are now beginning to hire data analysis experts. Many marketers are more interested in the creative side of things and they don’t have the skill set to effectively leverage data. However, there are more and more people showing up in the candidate pool who are gaining the skills needed to use data in marketing.

If you want to use data to shape your marketing endeavors, realize that you only have a couple of options. You can hire someone who already has the knowledge needed to effectively leverage data. Or, you can skill up yourself or someone else on your team so that you can use data analysis in your marketing strategy.

Regardless of the option you choose, you’ll be in a good position if you realize that data is the future of marketing. Instead of brushing it off, embrace it for better results.