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How Marketers Can Put Data to Work Next Year

Marketers continue to struggle with using data to grow their brands and businesses. But it’s clear that what will separate winners from the also-rans as we move forward in 2019 is your ability to put data to work. You already have an immense amount of data about your customers and their interactions with your business every single day. You also have an enormous opportunity to gather even more data from your customers. It’s necessary though, for you to develop a plan that enables you to translate that data into actionable insights and activities that will grow your business in the year to come.

In talking about the amount of data you have available to you, remember that customers conduct the vast majority of their research online. As I’ve noted in the past, “…most customers are anywhere from two-thirds to 90% along the way to a decision before they get in touch with your sales team. Your website is, or ought to be anyway, a 24/7/365 salesperson always ready to help answer any question your prospects may have.”

Customers are leaving digital footprints behind everywhere they go — and that’s only going to increase. Customers carry mobile devices constantly. Pew Research highlights that 95% of US customers have cell phones and over three-quarters own smartphones. Given that most of these folks also own laptops and tablets, the reality is every time you meet a customer you’re meeting with more devices than people.

Smart companies recognize this fact and are using that usage to make a better experience overall. As CEO Darren Huston has said, “…mobile is a chance to plumb the end-to-end user experience… in a longer-term it is increasing our value to the customer.”

I have mentioned before that “…content is king, customer experience is queen and data is the crown jewels.” This data, these crown jewels, come from the digital footprints that highlight what your customers care about at each step in their journey. Use these footprints to improve content and customer experience to connect more deeply with customers and translate their actions into business results.

Of course, handling customer data absolutely carries some risk. The recent breach of Marriott’s information systems, exposing the data of more than 500 million customers, along with similar crises at Facebook and others, creates significant business risk — not to mention the impact to customers themselves. That’s why you must protect your crown jewels. Your customers’ privacy, and the security of their data, matters. Protect customer information like your business depends on it. Because as we’re seeing, your business does depend on it.

How to Start Putting Data to Work

Of course, none of that should stop you from getting started in putting data to work. You must at least be willing to start small. Work on getting your data in the right place, ideally in the form of a data lake that business intelligence tools and AI platforms can swim in to learn what matters for your customers. The easiest way to get started is to think in terms of a “Crawl, Walk, Run” approach:


  • Assess current data collection and use, internally and across vendors
  • Explore options for improved use of customer data to enhance the customer experience
  • Develop policies and train staff on appropriate use of customer data


  • Test small-scale personalization effort in one or more marketing or customer service channels
  • Measure results and incorporate lessons learned into operational processes
  • Build on successes to conduct subsequent tests and operational changes


  • Build personalization into additional aspects of the customer experience
  • Align customer experience across journey and touchpoint
  • Continue to train staff on lessons learned/best practices


Data is the crown jewels for your business. It will play an outsized role in determining who wins and who falls by the wayside in the coming years. Obviously, improper use carries some risk. However failing to use data appropriately to create a better experience for your customers carries even greater risk: The risk that you get left behind. You are sitting on a diamond mine simply waiting for you to put it to use. It’s time to start excavating the jewels available to you and build your crown jewels. And to take your rightful place in the kingdom.

Tim Peter

Tim Peter built his first website in 1995 and loves that he still gets to do that every day. Tim has spent almost two decades figuring out where customers are, how they interact with brands online, and delivering those customers to his clients’ front door. These efforts have generated billions of dollars in revenue and reduced costs.

Tim works with client organizations to build effective teams focused on converting browsers to buyers and building their brand and business. He helps those companies discover how marketing, technology, and analytics tie together to drive business results. He doesn't get excited because of the toys or tech. He gets excited because of what it all means for the bottom line.

An expert in e-commerce and digital marketing strategy, web development, search marketing, and analytics, Tim focuses on the growth of the social, local, mobile web and its impact on both consumer behavior and business results. He is a member of the Search Engine Marketers Professional Organization (SEMPO), HSMAI, and the Digital Analytics Association.

Tim currently serves as Senior Advisor at SoloSegment, a marketing technology company that uses machine learning and natural language processing to improve engagement and conversion for large enterprise, B2B companies.

Tim Peter’s recent client work covers a wide range of digital marketing activities including developing digital and mobile marketing strategies, creating digital product roadmaps, assessing organizational capabilities, and conducting vendor evaluations for diverse clients including major hospitality companies, real estate brands, SaaS providers, and marketing agencies.

Prior to launching Tim Peter & Associates, LLC, a full-service e-commerce and internet marketing consulting firm in early 2011, he worked with the world’s largest hotel franchisor, the world’s premier independent luxury hotel representation firm, and a major financial services firm, developing various award-winning products and services for his customers. Tim can be reached at or by phone at 201-305-0055.

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