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Data Collection as the first step towards Data Activation

In comparison to many European countries, Belgium always has been a digital marketing laggard. Last year I noticed that leveraging data-driven marketing is gaining more and more interest from big Belgian companies. In most cases, those companies already had a huge amount of data stored in a data centre or in the cloud, but they didn’t have a clue on how they could act on all of that data.

Many of the projects I was involved in, started with an inventory of all of the existing data sources and technologies, and a maturity assessment of the organisation. An exercise that more often than not, was quite confronting to the stakeholders. Sometimes people were unable to define all data sources, even while they were there for years.

Once everybody has a clear view on the ‘as is’ situation we gather business objectives and attribute Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s). After this you pet yourself on the back, you’re halfway there. Clearly defined objectives and KPI’s make it easier to move forward in the right direction. It also makes it very clear on what you want to measure, and knowing if you reached your objectives. These metrics and requirements are listed in a measurement plan. One of the most important sections of that documents is the data layer.

A data layer is an object which is made available in the code of your platform, mostly a site or app, and holds variables that contain information on a user, session, event or product. It ensures a robust and independent source of data to feed your digital marketing technology. If data is the new oil, a data layer is the oil rig that makes it possible for you to pump it up and fuel your digital marketing engine.

Once you got the developer to integrate a data layer on the correct place on the page (as high as possible if you’re planning to leverage it for A/B testing and personalisation) you only have to ask them one more thing: the integration of the tag management script(s) (could be multiple scripts if you’re integrating an A/B testing solution through a synchronous – this means that script runs sequentially based on the position on the page – version).

After the QA with the developers, you don’t need them anymore (for the time being) and they can dedicate their focus again on “real” dev stuff. Also, bringing them snacks and being kind goes a long way.
You’re now ready to send data from your tag management system to your different marketing technologies/tags (digital analytics, affiliates, search engine advertising, …).