Digital marketing’s goal is to bring in leads or sales so it’s important to know how you are collecting that data. However, it’s common for trainers, consultants and professional coaches to put little thought into how their marketing data is collected let alone have a strategy behind it.
Sales and lead data can be collected in a lot of ways but they boil down to one of three categories:
Direct data takes information from a lead (it’s very rare to see this done with direct sales anymore) and provides it directly to the marketer. This is usually done via email through a simple form processor like formmail.
- Pro: It’s a simple setup and can usually be modified to meet individual needs.
- Con: It will limit what data is collected and how it’s reported. It also limits retention to a manual process because if the data is deleted, it’s not stored elsewhere. Security can also come into question if the data is sensitive.
- Best use: Simple responses that will be used for a simple interaction and does not need any automated tools.
Third Party App
This is the most varied category as third party apps are available for almost every business process under the sun and there are more and more each day. Third party apps typically function in this way: they collect the data, offer one or several automated features to manipulate the data, and store it in the app.
- Pro: Third party apps can be selected for a particular business need like event management, inventory and delivery management, or automated document delivery. Typically the apps are quite good at the particular thing they are designed for.
- Con: There is almost always an ongoing cost to use a third party app. Additionally, the data is collected on the apps platform which means that data can only be manipulated with the tools they make available or needs exported (if exporting is allowed) and manipulated separately. Perhaps the biggest potential problem with third party apps is that in complex marketing processes one tool may not be suitable. A combination of several can make for a disjointed user experience.
- Best use: If there is a single process that needs additional functions and a third party app offers solutions for that functionality at a reasonable price then it’s often simpler to use the app out of the box
A database driven solution gathers lead and sales data and stores it. While third party apps almost always function from a database, the difference is that they own the database rather than the marketer having direct access to it.
- Pro: Personalized database solutions offer unlimited customization and functionality. Direct access to the database also makes the data available for customized data manipulation and reporting.
- Con: A database solution is often the most complex, requiring the most time, energy, and/or money to set up.
- Best use: If a marketing process is so complex that configuring third party apps becomes cumbersome then a personalized database with custom tools is often the only secure option.