As the year draws to a close, it’s easy to get caught up dreaming about snowy holidays and mulled wine. For marketing teams, your every effort is building to a Christmas crescendo and you’ll have earned a good old rest.

But strategically, this is also the perfect time to plan for the next 12 months and beyond. Specifically, we are looking at how marketing teams can leverage all the data they’ve gathered to catapult themselves ahead of all competitors in 2019.

It starts with looking back at the last 12 months (analysing what worked and what didn’t) before looking ahead and making concrete plans for the next year. At the same time, companies need to deploy crucial marketing technology (or MarTech) stacks in order to stay on top of it all.

So: how can you use your data to plan for a successful year ahead?

Learn from the past

Most of us view data as a sort of guidance mechanism. You can make some inferences from whatever information you’ve gathered and hopefully deliver improvements to your business.

But historical data is so much more powerful than that. It’s a concrete record of what did and didn’t work last year; a veritable blueprint for how to act going forward. It’s crucial that you take the time to examine the past 12 months; to scrutinise and draw as many useful insights as you possibly can, to drive the business forward in the best direction.

Analyse what worked – and what didn’t

Don’t look back and say “Well, our paid search yielded a pretty low return in the summer months, so let’s forget that next year.”

Instead, look for more causality. Examine various metrics over the same period and look for what else correlated with summer sales, then start thinking about next year’s campaigns and how to build them to be even more successful and achieve better ROI.

This might sound intuitive, but without looking at the data how could you be sure? For companies recording vast amounts of information, analysis can return game-changing insights. Don’t kneejerk react to the trends you discover: build strong, strategic plans around them which extend right across the coming year.

Prepare for the future

Consider the year ahead. Have you written down, in clear and concise terms, what you hope to achieve?

It doesn’t matter if that’s a sales target, employee retention numbers, or some other metric, as long as you’re prepared. This not only keeps you accountable, but provides a bedrock of goals for your entire team or company to work towards.

Of course it’s one thing making a plan. Seeing it through is a whole other. You must use your data to track how successfully you reach your goals throughout the year.

Is your business ready for the year ahead?

For a start, all your data should be stored in a centralised location. Your colleagues should be able to easily access this data, drawing conclusions and sharing their insights so that everyone remains on the same page at all times.

Does your business have the tools to measure your success and track your progress against your targets?

The future of marketing will be more dynamic than we can imagine. There’s no such thing as ‘winging it’ when it comes to big data; the real secret to success is through detailed, structured planning. Your company’s MarTech stack infuses your business with powerful technology to make your marketing efforts more efficient and effective.

By embracing augmented intelligence and machine learning tools, your business can deliver game-changing insights to drive your business forward in a way that was impossible a few years ago.

Stay on top with your MarTech stack

MarTech stacks are the bundles of automated tools which businesses use for autonomous tasks like lead nurturing, creating customer personas, and tracking campaign success. MarTech therefore generates the huge amounts of data which businesses are using to transform their marketing, sales, and operational performance.

While it’s impossible for any human analyst (or team of analysts) to observe every anomaly and detect every correlation, it’s a piece of cake with the right tools.

Don’t wait until the end of the year to invest in the tools and technologies you need to track your progress: do it now. Having learned from the past and prepared for the year to come, it’s time to invest in machine learning and augmented intelligence tools and drive your business ahead of competitors.

Anomaly Detection and Root Cause Analysis

AVORA has developed a proprietary feature called Smart Alerts, a form of automatic anomaly detection for your data. It’s quite a simple premise: whenever a statistically significant inconsistency appears in your data, Smart Alerts flags it and immediately notifies the relevant stakeholders.

On recognising rogue numbers, the system can automatically perform Root Cause Analysis, handing you a complete report of how, when, and more importantly why this problem occurred. These tools not only present a crystal-clear image of how your business is performing (and why) but also helps you to react quickly to any situation.

“Unit sales increased because it’s the first day of the summer holidays and families are seeing our Facebook ads? Let’s boost that campaign for a few days!”

Finally, these augmented analytics give you back the time you lost to time-intensive manual work. With Smart Alerts and automated Root Cause Analysis, you can shuffle your team’s priorities to add even more value to the business.

With a little preparation, you can make next year a great one.