It’s Thursday and once again we are headed to the polling stations. Probably all asking ourselves similar questions. Who is going to win? How will it affect our lives? Who should we vote for?

I am always interested in opinion polls in the lead up to a general election but… is it really worth listening to them? It’s true that the pollsters have more data available to them these days… This data will reflect emerging trends, that’s for certain, but actual political outcomes are still impossible to predict. There are so many different factors that could influence each member of the electorate that it’s impossible to accurately predict an outcome unless you have a tip-off from a higher power.

The data available to the pollsters is certainly useful when looking at trends, but political professionals do not take their data as a final verdict. It’s used to inform publicity campaigns. Public opinion is notoriously fickle and unforeseen factors can have a heavy impact on it from one day to the next.

For instance, responders to an online poll in the autumn regarding Christmas shopping habits might say that they will do 50% of their Christmas shopping online this year. However, high street outlets, in a bid to outdo online sales might stage a campaign advertising a surprise price slash between certain dates to tempt people out to buy. Many members of the general public bite and in another online opinion poll nearer to Christmas they respond differently. People’s shopping intentions have changed as they are ready to take advantage of those amazing discounts. Unfortunately, adverse weather conditions including high winds and torrential rain put them off and they end up doing it all online anyway.

In a similar way, how can we use the data captured by our website or social media channels to inform our advertising campaigns in order to help us to increase sales? The data in itself will not predict the future, its what we do with it that makes the future more favourable.

The basic data required before you start is your customers’ identity – who they are, what they like, where in cyberspace they spend their time. You should already have this information if you have built a brand. If your brand does not take this information into account please contact us. We can help you.

How will the data available to you inform your marketing? Well to start with, what does your customers’ journey look like? You need to know how to use data to move your customers down the sales funnel. Here are some simple examples:

For some, initial contact will be made via social media before they even think of visiting your website. Use available data about your customers’ social media habits to reach them.

Make sure you know which social media platform(s) best promote your products or services. You are going to need enough relevant, creative content to be able to refresh it regularly, it also needs to reflect your brand. If you need help with creative content please contact us. We can help you.

Others will be searching online for your product so they will find your website without the need for social media. Use available data to find out which exact words searchers for your product are using then include them in your site to make sure that they find you. If you need help writing blogs that include your search terms please contact us. We can help you.

Use analytics to follow each step a visitor to your website takes and adjust the sales process accordingly to simplify it for them. You can also insert a popup with a special offer. They leave their email address and you close the deal. You now have their email address and with it the possibility of repeat business. If you need a popup added to your website please contact us. We can help you.

So remember – as you read what the polls are saying this week – having access to data is just the beginning of the story! What gives you the edge over the competition is how you use it!

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